This will blow your mind: I am a white person everywhere else in the world, except in the United States. Confused? So was I. Let me explain.
Do you know the difference between the terms Hispanic and Latino? Not a lot of people even know there is a difference. Latino is a term that refers to people of Latin-America, while Hispanic refers to people of Spanish-speaking cultures. Both of these terms can be used to describe your heritage, but neither are specific to your race.
For example, people from Spain are Hispanic because they come from a Spanish-speaking culture, but they are not Latino because they are European. In fact, Spanish people are Caucasian. The reason this might be surprising is because white supremacy has a history of tricking people into thinking that Race and Ethnic Heritage are the same thing. “Race” boils down to your genetic appearance, like the color of your skin. “Ethnic Heritage” is your culture and geographical upbringing.
Let me break it down:
I am Latino because I was born in Guatemala.
I am Hispanic because my native language is Spanish.
I am Caucasian because my skin is white and my family lineage comes from Spain.
So why am I not considered white here? Because only white people born in the United States get to call themselves white. I grew up thinking I was white until the first day I came to America for my college degree. Somehow, here, being Hispanic and Latino was a disqualifier. To make matters more confusing, people in America still equate race and ethnicity with nationality. People will always casually tell me I’m very white for being Guatemalan. That’s like me going up to Oprah and saying “You’re very black for being an American.” Your race, ethnicity, and nationality are all different things, but most Americans think of them as equal.
This is how I think most White-Americans define themselves.
I am American because I was born in the United States.
I am American because my native language is English.
I am American because my parents are American.
In reality, a person of any race born in the U.S. could define themselves in the same terms and they'd be correct. Go read it again, but think of a black person saying the same thing. This is not an exclusively white concept. The problem is that most people define being white in the same way they define being American.
I am white because I was born in the United States.
I am white because my native language is English.
I am white because my parents are American.
It’s important to change this way of thinking because politicians like Trump, White Nationalists, and the Alt-Right, are deliberately equating race, heritage, and nationality; making it harder for people to realize they're supporting racist policies. Because if it's possible to marginalize people of your own race just on heritage, imagine how much harder people of color have it.