Late Night Thoughts

What does it mean to be "of color?"

I call myself a person "of color" but it is such a vague and complicated way of describing myself. I mean, I'm light skinned, but I am Latina. I've got "dark" features (thick dark hair, eyebrows, etc). Yet that is not a defining feature because there are light-colored hair people "of color."

Oh yeah, and I also "practice" my "ethnic" culture. (I know, I know, the quotation marks are getting annoying, but I use them for a reason). I speak spanish, drink yerba mate, and occasionally wear hooped earrings--the last of which aren't exclusively "ethnic" of course.

We all have the right to define ourselves, and I find myself defining myself to new people all the time. I usually default on "I'm Latina," or "my parents are immigrants from Argentina."

But I can't help but find it funny that I always get asked about my strange accent and my undefinable racial features. I feel like because I am a bit more of a vague person "of color," I get asked what the hell I am more often than others. Funny enough, all my life I have had people tell me they think I'm Indian/Middle Eastern.

Such as this one time when I was on the bus, a sweet black woman was staring at me, so I looked out the window thinking, oookaay. Then she said, smiling, you make me think of India. I smiled and accepted her remark, but then she insisted on asking me about my race. So I just said, "I'm South American." I didn't feel like saying Argentine-American--nor did I want to get into the rest of my ethnic description routine--because I was about to get off. She kept on though, full of questions, but I missed my stop so I had to get off. When I finally got off, I thought to myself, well that was kind of out of the blue. I laughed my way home.

I find it funny because I myself will ask these ethnic questions of others when I can't immediately guess what they are. But when I meet people who "look the part," I don't ask them about their race because I just go with my assumption that they are white, black, or even Mexican often times.

I don't know what to think of it, but that's my two cents.