At age 22 marrying a white man had everything to do with his whiteness. By the time I was 22 years old I believed every lie that white supremacy indoctrinates everyone into: whiteness is better. I believed that lie that white men are superior to any other race and ethnicity. I believed it and I knew that everyone around me believed that also.
At age 22 I had been taught so much self-hatred that I believed myself to be of a better caliber of Latina once I caught myself a white man. However, I will say that this was not something that I actively sought out to do; yet I knew I had struck gold though when I met my now ex husband. I grew up in Miami, a city that is dominated by Latinxs. I dated white Latinos, black Latinos, and every other Latino in between. My ex husband was the first white man I dated. He also came at a time when I knew that I was expected to marry whomever I dated. In my strict conservative and religious household you did not date casually in your early twenties: you dated to get married. Furthermore, I knew I wanted to pursue a graduate degree and when I told my parents about said aspirations my dad laughed at me. He did not laugh because he is an evil and mean parent, he laughed because I am an immigrant female from a working poor family. Meaning, people like us – especially the women – do not get into places like those. Which is a valid conclusion considering that graduate programs and universities in general are not meant for people like me. I know this to be true, but I needed my parents to believe in me.
Anyways, when I told my parents of my aspirations I was also met with this very antiquated but contextually relevant response: de aqui no sales hasta que te cases. So at this time, I was dating a Cuban American man and a white man, and I essentially decided between the two. I knew I needed to leave home to go to graduate school and I knew that I needed to get married, so summer of 2009 I proposed to the white man. I contemplated his race and I knew that it would be the easiest match. I knew my mom would like him immediately, something that was unheard of because my mom disliked everyone I dated, but his race made him a pre-approved candidate to date and marry. I knew that my extended family would be super celosos because THIS was the American dream for Latina immigrant daughters. I knew that I was suppose to buy into the idea that I was marrying UP and above my status, and I should be more than happy to do just that.
At age 22, I believed everything that Latin American television and American television told me about whiteness: whiteness is better. At age 22 I had no one around me to tell me that that all this was rooted in self-hatred and white supremacy.
Fast forward a few years later, and at age 28 I had discovered that there was beauty in my cultura. At age 28 I knew about white supremacy and I learned to name it. And the more I grew in love with my brown skin the less my ex husband I had in common. It was not his fault that I was taught to prioritize whiteness, it was not my fault that I was taught to hate my own brownness. But in falling in love with myself we both sort of fell out of love with one another and we were filing for divorce in 2015.
I think that is why I write so much against white supremacy, and it is because it causes a lot of pain and it hurts so many people in significant and long-term ways. Being a young Latina means learning to love yourself, because you’re taught the opposite from the day you are born. That is why I get sad when I see other Latinas dating and/or marrying white men, but I do not judge Latinas who date or marry white men because when you’re socialized to desire that and if you have no one around you telling you of your own beauty you do what you think is best for yourself. I just hope and write as much as possible so that Latinas do not grow up with internalized self-hatred like I did.
Finally, that is why I am so adamant with my current partner, who is also white, about how little I am willing to compromise and how much I expect him to compromise. Because at age 22 I hated everything about who I was and wanted to get closer to whiteness, touch whiteness, become white – and that is why I married a white man. But I am not that girl anymore, and I have changed a lot since then.
“congratulations, you have overcome a huge hurdle that many of us face and I commend you.”
So to every Latina who finds herself in love with a white man and not because he is white but because of who he is: congratulations, you have overcome a huge hurdle that many of us face and I commend you. And for every eye roll that a radical Latina gives you when you mention you white boyfriend, a brown angel gets its wings, because they are entitled to roll their eyes at you. And when a radical Latina rolls her eyes at your white boyfriend, acknowledge that in doing so they are resisting the narrative so many of us are taught and that is a GREAT thing!