Can You Really Be A ‘White Woman of Color’?

by Britni Danielle
Photo Credit: Dan Zhang Photography via

Photo Credit: Dan Zhang Photography via

I recently stumbled across an interesting essay by Ana Cecilia Alvarez about being a “White Woman of Color” that once again highlighted the complexities (and complete arbitrary and socially constructed) issue of race.

Although the two identities seem at opposite ends of the racial spectrum, Alvarez’s experience—growing up White in Mexico, but later being seen as a “woman of color” on the basis of her nationality and language once she immigrated to the U.S.—was both eye-opening and frustrating.

While Alvarez says she previously shied away from conversations about race because she felt her privilege as a White woman wouldn’t lend much to the conversation, she dove headlong into these issues by sending a tweet.

After Lady Gaga began appropriating Muslim culture and donning a traditional covering, calling it “Burqa Swag” (which is also apparently a song), Alvarez tweeted, “What is it about young white females and rampant/self righteous cultural appropriation?”

Her frustrations garnered responses containing the brilliant and popular hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, which caused Alvarez to confront her dueling identities.

She writes:

“The #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen tsunami forced me to wonder which side of the hashtag I should come down on—as a white woman or a woman of color? For the reality is, both WHITE and WOC fail to define me.”

Alvarez explains:

“For all “official” accounts and purposes, I am a first-generation Mexican immigrant. I was born in Mexico City to a father who is fully Mexican and a mother who is bi-racial (my grandfather was Mexican and my grandmother is Anglo-American). I immigrated to the United States at a young age and, thanks to my grandmother’s American birth right, gained American citizenship shortly thereafter. So my claim to a Latina-based voice of color would appear to be legitimate. However, if I’m honest with myself, my racial identity is confused at best. Although my father is Mexican through-and-through, his family—my family—comes from land-owning ancestry of Spanish descent. And my grandmother, who grew up in Brooklyn, has blonde hair and blue eyes. As a result, even though I am a Mexican immigrant, I am inarguably white. This fact hit me like a ton of bricks even before I could verbalize how unsettling it was. After immigrating to Miami in my teens, I would participate in Thanksgiving food drives for the migrant communities of South Florida. There, the faces of the Mexican migrant mothers who received the bags of canned beans and dried pasta were unrecognizable from my own (pale, legal, educated, wealthy) face. In relation to them, I did not feel like, and never claimed to be, a woman of color.”

Like many immigrants before her, Alvarez was forced to choose sides once she moved to America. Although her early years were spent in Miami amid other White Latinos who seemed comfortable identifying as such, once she went to college, others reflexively put her in the minority box because she was Mexican.

She explains:

If in high school I held onto my Mexican ethnicity while benefiting from my pale complexion, at Brown I found that my cultural past gave me more and more “color” than I was ready to assume. When I met other freshmen in my dorm, I would introduce myself as simple, nondescript Ana. But once the long-winded and accented Ana Cecilia Alvarez Ortiz emerged, so did a certain piqued interest in my racial otherness. At Brown, in my mostly white group of friends, my cultural flavor, my bilingual ability, and my immigrant status tanned my paleness with an air of exoticism and afforded me the particular “voice” of a (supposed) woman of color. And yet I was a non-threatening person of color: a visually palatable and pleasing face combined with a cultural awareness that added a certain sensitivity and authenticity to an otherwise homogenous crowd. I was allowed to talk about race as if I hadn’t grown up white. I was allowed to separate myself from “those white chicks” and instead claim legitimacy when I donned stereotypically ethnic dresses and accessories. This shift became especially salient in my sexual relations. If in Mexico or Miami, my whiteness put me at the top tier of beauty, at Brown my fiery Latina side made me desirable because of my difference. Being aware that I somehow benefited from my cultural roots made me feel even more guilty and fraudulent when I encountered discussions about racism and oppression.

While Alvarez seems to grapple with and be aware of her privilege as a White woman on one hand–particularly by acknowledging that feminism must include the voices of all women, regardless of race, class, or sexual orientation–she also seems unable (or unwilling?) to parse the difference between race and nationality, choosing to straddle both lines out of convenience, calling herself a “White woman of color”–even though she is not.

Interestingly, Alvarez seems to unintentionally indulge in her own privilege by minimizing the concerns of women of color by calling for a “nuanced conversation that takes into account the various spectrums of race and ethnicity within gender justice, instead of lumping feminists into “white” and “WoC” warring factions.” Her need to “expand” the conversation to include more voices like her own (White women crossing the color line) seems to further illustrate the need for the #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen movement in the first place.

While Alvarez says she has “empathy” for her “[women of color] sisters,” she tries to keep a foot in both worlds by choosing an identity when it suits her. At home in Miami or Mexico? She’s White. At school or when she’s speaking about race? She’s a “woman of color.”

Sadly, Alvarez seems to fall victim to the notion that race = nationality. And like many (particularly Americans), she seems to have bought into the thinking that being Latino automatically makes her a minority. For instance, she says her mother is “biracial” because she was born to a Mexican (which isn’t a race) father, and Anglo-American (read: White) mother. While Alvarez gives no details about her grandfather’s actual race (is he Mestizo or a descendant of Europeans like her father?), she seems to once again be muddling the terms.

But here’s rub: being White excludes her from being a woman of color. Period.

Having a Spanish surname, being born in Mexico, and being bilingual does not grant her “colored” status anymore than if I’d been born in Germany and spoke German would somehow make me White.

  • cherlayn


  • Anthony

    White woman of color is not an oxymoron when you consider that race is a social construct. Your race depends on not only how you see yourself, but how others see you.

  • Entro

    They’re taking woman of color now?How in the hell can you be a white woman of color ? This appropriation is becoming too much and these people are going to have to be called out on the BS . I don’t know why clutch even gave this woman a forum..this is getting ridiculous

  • Entro

    Woman of color is not a racial designation but a description of a person that is non white, since white is not a color it cannot possibly be anything but an oxymoron. Now you want to change the definition of color to suit your narrative and appropriate someone else’s struggle in order to profit or just have something to say to make your life more interesting? Please

  • Anthony

    I know I would see her as a white woman, and I have no doubt that she would act white towards me. Her issue seems to be how Non-Hispanic whites treat her.

  • Annoyed

    Years ago, I met a young man from Spain who told me his whole life he was white until he moved to the US where he was considered nonwhite. This is what I hate about discussions like this. People get to choose how they identify irrespective of the opinions of the rest of the world. This young woman is Mexican and only in the US does that come with the certainty, not even a mere presumption, that she is nonwhite. I’m an American but sure as heck not white. You can be from any country and embrace a different cultural or ethnic Identity.

    I got a lot of thumbs down when commenting that brown/black Latinos identify themselves as Latino first and color second. I wonder if this constrictive thinking is only peculiar to the US because Americans of all colors seem to demand that the “other” abandon their identity and identify however a given individual dictates. How presumptuous is that?

    I have friends who are a chicana/asian couple. One daughter looks completely Chinese and while she honors her Chinese heritage, she has totally embraced her Mexican heritage. Does she get to choose or go with what others impose on her because of how she looks and other people’s issues about race and ethnicity? It’s a rhetorical question.

  • Anthony

    @Entro, lots of women from the Midfle East, South Asia, and Latin America have been called women of color, but are not all are that dark. Alvarez has just pointed out a contradiction that has been going on for decades.

  • omfg

    imo, the confusion is caused by our ignorance in the u.s. about latin america.

    somehow, white people in the u.s. think they are the gatekeepers to whiteness.

    for me, because i was a latin american studies in college, i am pretty clear about people being self-identified white people there. in fact, they would be white in this country were it not for their spanish surname which automatically makes you “of color” or low class.

    i was in guatemala a couple of years ago and hung out a bit with an argentine couple. i asked them why they didn’t want to visit the u.s. they told me because they would be considered latino, not white. being white/european is one of the cornerstones of argentine identity. to be considered not white is to be low. of course they looked down on the dark guatemalans.

    i also had the experience of studying in mexico. i recall a mid/upperclass mexican guy telling me about how he lived in la jolla (calif), but he didn’t’ like it. at first, i’m thinking how could you not like living there? you have to have money to live there. but then i asked him if it was because he wasn’t considered white.

    in both instances, it bothered them that their white privilege was not portable.

    i always find it funny how people want to consider someone “of color” because they are from latin america. are gisele bundchen and carlos slim people of color?

    but then, in this country, we even try to make spaniards people of color. lol.

  • drdap (@drdap)

    Exactly, when I started reading this I thought the analysis was going to get deep- see the One Drop project and upcoming book by Yaba Blay. I actually know a multiracial woman born and raised in Germany by only her white family, that complicates your assertion that being brown in Germany automatically excludes you from whiteness. Whiteness is an identity, like Anthony stated, a social construct- you can’t arbitrarily include and exclude people, but it is a worthwhile analysis to try and figure out how privilege and exclusion impacts people differently depending on how OTHERS perceive their bodies and identities, regardless of what they’re lived experience is. And then how they negotiate this. I clicked on this article because I was intrigued by the issue Alvarez was raising, but your analysis of it wasn’t well-informed. Visit the one drop project for more context.

  • apple

    why can’t she just be privileged and happy? why she gotta write essays and lament on it?

  • chanela17

    what? so does this mean that light skinned black women who have color eyes are considered white too? um NO! it seems like she is trying hard to pass for white like most hispanics do. just because her skin isn’t as brown as let’s say “jessica alba” doesn’t mean that she is “white”. does this mean that snooki from jersey shore is black?

  • Beautiful Mic

    She’s Mixed Race with a White Phenotype. We have blacks with White Phenotypes. what’s new?

    Minorities with white phenotypes who have the option of passing as white – YAWN!

    White privileged in full effect.

  • AJW

    Lol. They want to be women of color now too.

    She is a white Mexican & she needs to accept that she is white. Being born in Mexico & speaking Spanish doesn’t change that.

  • B

    “Years ago, I met a young man from Spain who told me his whole life he was white until he moved to the US where he was considered nonwhite.”- That just goes to show the ethnic ignorance prevalent in the United States. Spain is in Europe, meaning that “typical”, non-immigrant Spaniards are EUROPEAN (= WHITE). The conquistadors (Spaniards from Spain) were European, regardless of how dark their eyes and hair may have been.

  • Jennifer

    I’ve never had an identity crisis, or had the privilege of being able to ride the benefits of being white or a WoC when it suited me, so her “issues” don’t speak to me at all. I know I’m already trivializing her experience with my tone, but it doesn’t feel fair that someone can claim both privilege and other-ness. If you’re privileged, you’re privileged. If you got the short end of the stick, you got the short end of the stick. You can’t be privileged but then play victim when you don’t want to be seen as the “bad guy.” I try not to have disdain for people’s experience, but I really can’t wrap my head around folks complaining about non-issues when there are folks who have to deal with actual shit.

  • IJusWannaSay…

    sit the hayell down somewhere….you’re just white to me.

  • Anthony

    I think a problem with this discussion is that too many people can only talk about race from their own perspective. Other parts of the world define race differently than the USA. What Alvarez is saying has nothing to do with taking something from black women. She is talking about her own experience with race.

    The bottom line is that there is no objective definition of race. Who is white, black Asian, etc. is always based on social notions. When I teach, I often ask the question, ” when does someone become a dark complexioned white instead of a fair black person?” For years, the answer in America was never, if one had black ancestors, you were black. In Apartheid South Africa, families were separated by goofy tests like can a pencil stick in your hair, or are you lighter than a certain shade of tan? In the Dominican Republic, no one was black unless you were of Haitian origin. I used to a black woman from Suriname who was confused by the mixed race Americans who were considered black. As Be Real mentioned, whites have often
    been reluctant to “grant” whiteness to people who look obviously white to us black folks.

    Talk about race ain’t always about African Americans.

  • Paris Chanel

    What I got from all this: Ana is a white Mexican that feels misunderstood and, for that matter, “oppressed” by her own race in the United States because they don’t grasp the Latin identity—name, language, and culture—despite her racial identity, so she dons a WOC veil for being treated like she’s an other.

    In Mexico (or in Latin America overall), she would be praised, treated like gold, “roll out the red carpet” for her whiteness. Because she can’t transport that same adoration, without the cultural judgements to the United States, she feels like a privileged outsider.

    Now, the undertone of this whole article is that if non-Hispanic white Americans treated her with sameness regardless of her Latina identity, you best believe she would only don her “white WOC” veil on special occasions. I’m over it.

  • SDC

    But there are other types of discrimination that aren’t based on appearance. There have been plenty of studies showing that white sounding names on job applications tend to get the most attention, where ethnic sounding names are sometimes completely ignored. Without seeing her, if an employer were to look at her name and either consciously or subconsciously rank her lower in terms of employment, isn’t she still being discriminated against as a WoC? I think there are situations where she can’t be pigeonholed as a white person “for all intents and purposes.”

  • geenababe

    Someone seems confuse and in the process they are confusing me.

  • drdap (@drdap)

    thank you for your clear thinking on this! the comments on here are fairly appalling, not what I’m used to on Clutch.

  • Gell0h0h

    Girl bye!

  • SayWhat

    Yeah. It seems like her white classmates at Brown gave her a wake-up call.

  • Nic

    I’ve found that among people I know from the Middle East, there are those that consider themselves white, and those what do not (and do not covet the label).
    Privilege is typically what makes some feel included and others feel excluded.
    I remember being at lunch with an Arab American friend (born in Iraq and emigrated as an adult), and we got poor service and she called the manager and said “we would not have been treated this way if we were white.” Her American experience has been one which reminds her regularly that she is not a white woman.
    I can contrast her to another friend who is Persian but American born and who has an English first name and a last name that could be interpreted as European by some. She refers to herself as white, and I think that based on how she gets treated by society, that is accurate.
    But I agree with the people that it must be a shock for white Mexicans and Central and South Americans who have power and white privilege in their home countries that doesn’t translate here b/c they aren’t that white by American standards AND have Spanish (or Portugeuse) accents, since Americans are so anti-Spanish speaking immigrants.

  • BeanBean

    The girl is white white white. Mexican isn’t a race. She looks white to me.

  • diasporauk

    Ok can you be a black person of unmistakable sub-saharan ascent who identifies as white and expect be taken seriously?



    Btw, race may be a social construct as far as human genetics are concerned, but not as far as human experience is concerned.


  • Shirl

    Exactly!!! Now what the hell is she whining about? She comes from a well to do family, has benefited from her paleness, is seen as exotic etc..I simply can’t find 1 $&ck to give!!

  • Deja

    Your opinion of Ana’s reflections of herself make absolutely no sense. So, you’re saying that someone has to identify as being white or a person of color solely because of the mere shade of their skin? Ana said she attempted to identify herself simply as Ana, but that was not acceptable in her circle of peers. I’m so tired of race discussions, by whites and people of color, as if race is something real. It’s frigging mental handcuffs! I don’t deny that there are too many people who suffer in this society because of this figment of psychological oppression, but I believe one way to combat it is to not succumb to the idea of having to “choose” or identify being anything other than oneself. Is an Albino with dark-skinned parents who identify as African-American, now white? Color is just color, it means nothing no matter how hard society tries to make it so.

  • Nic

    Yes…South Americans have a lot of classifications for what we call just “black” in the U.S.
    What is funny though is that now the descendents of the white people who invented the one drop rule want to get upset when light-skinned black people comfortable (and correctly since many people knows their own background, parentage, and culture) black.
    So for example, there was a NY Times store about a light-skinned, fair-haired black woman from Arkansas (where her lightness meant nothing in the 40′s when she was born) who went to Howard and met a guy who was darker than her and who she assumed (it was in the 60′s) was a straight-haired black man.
    It turned out he was Italian, and he thought she was white.
    At any rate, the comments were full of white people who were angry that she dared call herself black, and were going on and on about what mixed race people should say.
    Of course, they ignored the fact that this lady had two black parents, and her appearance is the product of centuries of mixing between white men and black woman and the descendants of those pairings. I’m sure most black people with Southern roots and a large extended family have relatives who look like this. I know I do. And they have the same amount of “white” as me although I’m dark skinned.
    It is funny that even today, white people want to define whiteness, whereas now they are willing to “extend” the invite to those they deem worthy (b/c explanations that a light-skinned black person may have no more European ancestry than a darker one is a point that is lost of many white people). They will NOT argue that a dark-skinned black person who has white grandparents should be called white or mixed race. They will argue that a person who due to genetics happens to pop out with light skin and light hair should either claim white or mixed race. (So again, I’d go back to an example of me, as a dark-skinned person vs. my cousin, who has blond hair and green eyes, yet we both have two black parents, who although vary in color have very recent white ancestry as well).
    What the person in question wants still matters little to them.

  • WhatIThink

    The reason for Anglo Americans in the United States discriminating against the Mexicans of primarily European descent goes back to the historical rivalry between Britain and Spain. It really has nothing to do with real skin color and more to do with history, language and culture.

  • naan

    I don’t think Alvarez believes that “race= nationality”. If anything she is saying that people’s failed recognition that “nationality does not equal race” is what makes her feel like a “White woman of color”. Sure, maybe she is around some people who know that “Mexicans” can be “of any race”— but I doubt that is who she is around when many people are still calling all Latinos “Mexican” and then saying “Same thing” when they are corrected.

    She’s around people who suddenly make her “whiteness” CONDITIONAL once her heritage is revealed to them, and this is the experience she is referring to.

    Also please keep in mind that Mexico does not keep track of racial demographics, so calling herself “Mexican” to describe what she is or isn’t— isn’t just about “nationality”. She can make a good guess that she is “white”, but there are no official records describing her “as white”. So she is forced to say “Mexican”, just like Black-Americans are forced to call themselves “Black” (vs a specific African ethnic group) due to lost records caused by the slave trade.

    Also we can say Spain is in Europe and thus “white”, but in the US having a Spanish surname makes you “colored” in most people minds until they see you AND “interact” with you—> again whiteness is ” conditional”.

    Furthermore, the whole “whiteness” of Spain has been debated in history too. There’s a famous quote by some white dude in history that is something like “Whiteness stops at *NAME* Mountains”. Wish I knew the quote exactly and who said it. But even white Europeans have tried to say other Europeans aren’t white.

    I mean how many of us have come across an Italian with tan skin and had a hard time viewing them as “white”? I definitely have.

    I’m sure that there are “white” people who have dealt with racist behavior towards them because they were tan and had darker hair. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone like Rob Kardashian (of Armenian heritage) MAY even have a story. But could he actually tell this story? No, because the media would rip his head off because him being “white on record” gives him a boat load of privilege too and makes it THAT much easier. But again, he MAY have a story where someone exposed their racist behaviour towards Latinos by making him their target, before he “explained” his heritage to them.

  • WhatIThink

    Also some of this is also due to the fact that historically there has been a lot more interracial mixing between the Portuguese, the Spanish, Africans and Native Americans. Heck that goes back even to the Spaniards who first sailed to America, many of whom were Africans and or mixed. In the United States, the strict race mixing laws and Jim Crow made it much harder to have as much mixture, that and the immigration laws that only promoted European immigration to replace and erase those of African and Native American descent.

    Funny how all of those laws which ended right after the civil rights act allowed anyone from anywhere to classify as a minority whether they suffered from slavery and racism in America or not. And that was by design.

  • Ads

    To add another layer to this: i am a “dark skinned white person” my fam is from southern italy ( and i likely carry the dna of centuries of north african and arab traders and invaders.) when i lived in brasil, my two bffs were dominican and puerto rican, and brasilians regularly thought we were siblings. As new yorkers we’d laugh, explaining were noy even the same race, let alone family. The brasilians would laugh back “you’re all ‘wheat-colored’ of course ur the same race.” Does this make me a white woc? No. But for people in much of the world where race is a continuum and not a binary, the question isnt always so simple. That’s not to ignore the fact that yes some people will be black any where on earth, and some privilege is universal. But in many places and for many people, thats not the case

  • Missa Ndrea

    I meant to thumb up that comment, not thumb down!

  • Ads

    Though to be fair, if we consider north africans ‘poc’ many spaniards (and portguese and italian) will often be as well. Iberia was ruled for 800 years by moors. During the inquisiton, for jews, arabs, and north africans who didn’t want to be booted or killed changed their names to spanish and portuguese names and were allowed to stay. All the pereira (pear tree) oliveira (olive tree) silva (forest) and other nature-words-turned-surnames come from this era of moors trying to escape forced exile or death. So being of ‘spanish descent’ in latin america sti doesnt necessarily make u white. Race and privilege only have meaning in their specific contexts

  • Ads

    And while were on the tangential topic, all the surnames like De Jesus, de Santos (saints), etc… Were the mixed children of masters born to slaves – since the master couldnt give them his last name they were said to be sent from God or the angels….

  • Nic the U.S., my entire family, from the nearly white skinned, light-eyed ones to the darkest of the dark, are all black. And true, it is only in my generation that one person (my sister) has married a white person.
    But we know that the family tree forks(racially speaking) just before my own grandparents.
    Yet in Brazil, all of us would be different categories and yes, they would go based on how we all look rather than who our ancestors are.
    As my friends have kids, some of them are having kids who to white people look white, and far too fair to be theirs (like the caramel brown couple who has a nearly pink, blond afroed, blue eyed baby, or the other ones who had a daughter with blond hair). They get questions about why this, and why that all of the time.
    So some of them have these kids that white people want to call white but who aren’t.
    What I don’t get is why they get so mad about it. It’s as if when someone is wiling to give you the invitation to whiteness, you’d better not dare refuse.

  • Nic

    I love your comment, and esp. the line “gatekeepers of whiteness.” I commented elsewhere in this thread that nowadays some white people are willing to open the doors for some black people who either a)have a white parent or b)are light enough to pass and therefore by their definition are automatically mixed race and incorrectly identify themselves as “black”, something which I see black people are often blamed for (as if WE invented the one drop rule). Of course, they don’t give those invitations if you are a “bad black” but they sure get upset that Halle Berry and POTUS proudly call themselves Black Americans. I do’nt find those labels to be misplaced on people who have a non-black parents since most of us are “mixed race” and not just a little. That is what being the descendants of people who were enslaved for over 400 years and who continue to be oppressed means. B/c I already knew and have been digging more deeply to learn precisely, and a lot of us have white ancestors well AFTER slavery was the reason (although rape probably was still the circumstance).
    Simply put, it’s not just Latin American history that people are either ignorant of or in denial about.
    It bothers people when their white privilege isn’t portable. It also bothers them when invitations to white privilege are ignored.

  • Me gusta Dy

    I don’t know whether my sister could be considered a white POC?

    My parents are both latin american, but my father is native (and possibly black) with very dark skin, while my mother is white. My older sister looks white (very pale skin, auburn hair, green eyes) while I look more mestizo (brown skin, black hair, brown eyes), but we essentially have the same facial features. Even living in a small very white town, no one thinks my sister is anything but white. However, Ana, would not be seen as white, because she has very dark hair and eyes, plus she definitely has more “ethnic” facial features. White privilege works to be exclusionary and white people are the gatekeepers of who gets to be white. Therefore, in Latin America she may be “white”, but anywhere else she is an “other”.

    A related issue may be that white people also have a hierarchy in terms of colouring with blonde/blue at the top and brown/brown at the bottom. I’ve definitely seen this in my family with dark hair/light eyes being most appreciated, but one of my friends has this issue in their family. Five Irish/Italian girls and they have all admitted to being extremely jealous of the youngest with blonde hair and blue eyes whereas they all have dark hair/dark eyes.

    There are a lot of issues here, but not every “white” person gets white privilege because white people get to decide who gets the benefit.

  • AngB

    “If in Mexico or Miami, my whiteness put me at the top tier of beauty, at Brown my fiery Latina side made me desirable because of my difference.”

    That one line sums it up. THIS GIRL NEEDS TO GET OVER HERSELF.

    Basically? this girl is mad b/c she can’t partake in all the privileges that her white appearance would otherwise grant her.She’s 75 percent Mexican and looks white like many Mexicans do. What’s so confusing for her?

  • Dee D

    On one hand I don’t want to trivialize her experience because I have not lived it. However, her tone sometimes comes off as bragging: “I get to be the safe white lady some times and the spicy Latina other times.” Most WOC whether they be a black, Asian, Middle Eastern or something else in between definitely don’t get this advantage because they cannot pass for white. Middle Easterners are Caucasian by census standards but most can’t pass for white.
    While I’m glad she recognizes her privilege; it also seems like she is complaining about loosing the top-tier status she had in Mexico once she got to the U.S.. Nonetheless she was able to take other stereotypes the U.S. has about Latinas and use it to her advantage, it has been nothing but a win win situation for her. Her only problem seems to be the guilt she feels reaping the benefits she gets being a white Latina knowing many other Latinas don’t get reap the same benefits.

  • Ads

    It’s the pyrenese mountains. Also, as an italian american with darker skin who works on immigration issues often in spanish in public forums (and in portuguese with my husband from brazil) i have had numerous occasions of people telling me to learn english, go back to mexico, go back to where im from, that i’m ‘illegal’, i should learn english, etc. racists are sooooo ignorant they can spout white supremacy at ‘non-obvious’ (??) white people…

  • apple

    well if its so important to her she could just change her name , names can be changed color can not. i had a latina friend who last name was messing up her job search so she just took her english half last name.. not very hard

  • apple

    things are real if people say they are.. people like to say that race isn’t real.. well i wish i could tell that to the person who followed me in the store yesterday, or the job i got rejected from even though i had more experience, on the woman who wouldn’t sell me something because black people steal, or the guy who wouldn’t date me because he likes white girls, or the parents of my best friends who didn’t want “niggers” in the house, i wish i could tell them all “oh race isn’t real yall”

  • Ads

    @Apple – racism is real as hell, it enforces poverty, infant mortality, a fake drug war, inferior public education, and more. Its deadly. Im not black and never will be. But im also not mexican, yet ive been told to go back to mexico, to learn english, been called ‘illegal’, etc. Racism can be so f@cked up that it doesnt follow the ‘white’ box i check off on census forms. I’m not denying for a second any of your points, i’m just trying to say that the picture is sometimes bigger or more complicated.

  • Anthony

    Telling someone to get over themselves sounds way too much like the sort of thing white people tell us when we mention race. My view is that we ned to at least be willing to listen to each other when we talk about how race affects us.

  • Blarghly

    You can be privileged in some contexts and not in others. And btw, skin color is not the only determiner of privilege, no matter how much we obsess on it.

  • Nic

    Actually, you’d be surprised. Some white people do get upset when the white looking (to their eyes) black people identify as black. To some of them, all light skinned black are “obviously” mixed race and should not dare call themselves black, and actually if they are light enough, they even say that they are clearly mistaken and are white.
    It’s odd. But right now there is a sliding scale although I’d say it’s a fickle invitation at best.
    Of course, they don’t understand that many of those people don’t want a passport to whiteness, b/c the memory of what happens when they change their minds is still fresh.

  • Blarghly

    She should change her name? Really? Wow.

  • Me27

    “Having a Spanish surname, being born in Mexico, and being bilingual does not grant her “colored” status anymore than if I’d been born in Germany and spoke German would somehow make me White.”

    This right here sums up my feelings

  • Blarghly

    Who died and made you the race police? Is whiteness just a matter of how the color of your skin looks to someone who has an axe grind and who wants to deny you your heritage because they are mad that you can pass? Race is so much more than how she looks to you! You don’t get to say if she’s white, or if anyone is white or who is white and who is black.

  • dmac

    Alvarez is just using her experience to highlight the nuances we usually fail to acknowledge in discussions about race. Some people were introduced to this idea with the Zimmerman case– he tried to hide behind his identity as a Latino, when the reality of his life has been one of white privilege due to his appearance and his name. Sadly, people like him pretend this type of experience does not exist. Thus, people like Alvarez need to speak up and explain it.

  • pegaita

    “Having a Spanish surname, being born in Mexico, and being bilingual does not grant her “colored” status anymore than if I’d been born in Germany and spoke German would somehow make me White.”

    You hit the nail right on the head with that last paragraph, As an Latina from the African Diaspora, I try to explain this to so many of my Latina sisters. Just because you are Latina does NOT make you a WOC.

  • dmac

    Race = divisions of human based on patterns of phenotype= not real, i.e. people descended from Africa are *not* genetically similar to each other. Skin color, hair texture, etc. make up less than 1% of our DNA. Black folks may belong in a sociocultural category together (flexible and nuanced), but not a biological one (fixed).

    Racism = using these imagined divisions to discriminate = real.

    Deja is saying that you can’t make statements like, “Being white excludes her from being a woman of color. Period.” because racial categories are not actual categories, they’re ideas people have made up which change with time, location, purpose, etc.

  • binks

    Sighs…no you can’t be a white woman of color…where the hell they do that at??? People need to realize if they are going to use race as the measuring stick for people then yes you can be white and Hispanic. People love to limit white, black, etc. (especially in the US) as one thing when that is not the case. To me, it seems like she KNOWS she is not a woman of color but got frustrated when other whites who doesn’t have an Hispanic heritage questioned her, it seems like her issues are with them and she should have checked them but don’t configured this made up title of “white women of color…” I am sorry but she is clearly privileged from both sides of the spectrum, even when others questioned her whiteness so hijacking the narrative/issues as a “white woman of color” is a no go in my book. I am not trivializing her experience nor saying her feelings doesn’t matter or we shouldn’t talk about it but talk about it in the RIGHT context while not mudding other women who are of color narratives. Because this title is taking way from the example she used of the non-white Mexican women she saw at the food drive. To me, this sounds like how some light skin black women hijack the colorism debate/issue when dark skinned women tell their narrative and their concerns.

  • Josh

    I feel like many African Americans need to travel more and understand race, or even simply blackness, is not as obvious or consistently as they think it is. Too often when a non-American, especially one of African decent, tries to share their unique experience on race, people are quick to slammed down the American traditions for thinking about race. Yet there are a lot of people who just don’t want to be “black” or broadly a PoC as they see it or are trying to exploit the advantages to being able to claim “PoCness” and whiteness when it is convenient, but for many people, they just have a different and equality valid tradition for understanding race. But in classical American colonial/imperial behavior, you try to impose your way of seeing the world. Because, of course, you are the policeman of the world, God’s chosen country.

  • Anthony

    @Binks, I see your point.

  • ArabellaMichaela

    Who cares what this woman calls herself or considers herself to be or how she lives her life. That is NOT the point. The issue that rankles, about her and other Latinos, is that they come to this country and step into a world of rights and benefits that African Americans fought and died for. All the while these ethnic immigrants despise black people, including the ones in their own countries. They think its their right to partake of “rights” they did not fight for here,and don’t have in their own country.
    The writer likely got into Brown by checking the minority box. It is also Interesting how you dont see immigrants like her family joining the military to risk their lives and defend this country. What they do is come here to ” take.” That is what people resent about them. No other developed country in the permits immigrants to do what they get away with here.

  • jeni

    I was with you until your final summation. I think you are missing her point and being unbelievably narrow about your concept of race, perhaps intentionally, to drive debate.

  • LMO85

    I believe that very thing that you describe happened to Rahm Emanuel and his brothers when they were young in Chicago–because they were tan and had curly hair. They were called N==ers. Seems this discussion is too nuanced for this crowd though…

  • LMO85


  • AJW

    Just like everything else, white women will get what they want. White people will get what they want. They take everything anyway. I’m just gonna stop using the term People of Color from now on. The fact that they are coming on this site talking about tans & brown hair & shit. Lol. Then you got blacks on here throwing the capes on. Lol. Telling folks to feel their pain cause they don’t get to have all their privilege. Lol. These people are amazing. So whites are ” POC’s” now. Lol. They get to make all the rules don’t they? Get to strong arm their way into everything right?

    I’m supposed to hear this woman out & I did. She is white & Mexican. What I do know is that she nor any other white woman really gives a damn about what black women go through. Don’t give a single F.
    And last time I checked, a WHITE HISPANIC MAN blew a hole in a black kid, got off & the white community had his back. Sounds like white privilege to me.

    Call me what you want. I don’t give a damn. I do know that I’m sick & tired of black folk being the designated group to take on any & everybody elses issues. We got to analyze, sympathize , empathize & organize for everybody else. Let Black people have problems/issues, we are on our own. Things will never change. I’m gonna just pass on these types of articles from now on.

  • meep

    I appreciate this article, but would just like to add that the burqa is something worn by a minority of Muslim women and not Arab women. Muslim and Arab are not to be conflated as most Muslims in the world are not Arab and there are plenty of non-Muslim Arabs as well.

  • Dani

    Wow I was going to share this article with my husband who is Mexican – and experiences the constant minority status he has while in the US, but is seen as privileged in Mexico because he is mixed and pale skinned….and then I got to the end where the author devolved to an angry racist stereotype, and I think I’ll wait until someone with more knowledge of the color caste system of Mexico writes about this…The author just reinforced one of Ana’s points, others label her based upon their biased perceptions. In this case the bias is a WoC have to be angry, exclusionary, and dark. Unfortunate.

  • Jolie

    this…..although totally not unrelated is when Americans (black ones especially) say thngs like to ‘oh the world sees you as black’ to biracial folks, totally forgetting that the one-drop rule has always been and still remains an American concept which does not apply to countries outside..such statements always bear an arrogance that says just because Americans say so then everyone else agrees…same with terms like POC,which means nothing at all in the end as many non-white non-black people feel no kinship towards blacks and still discriminate against them

  • Jolie

    black people with white phenotype? must be in the U.S only..m African and have never seen or heard of such a thing..maybe mixed race people ( and usually not half black but less than that ) but black people? umm no..we need to do better and take pride in ourselves and embracing our true African features

  • Jolie

    i’m trying to understand something lets say someone from there has that surname today..does that make them non-white/mixed race due to the fact that they have a few non-white ancestors from way back when..i mean seems to me like they assimilated and obviousy they intermarried with the locals, furthering reducing their non-white blood percentages even more..just like if someone has a black-great grand parent and the rest white..they are majority white with some black do we now say that person is not white

  • Tee tee

    Erasure pending…

  • Ads

    So latin america is made up of a lot of countries, some where indigenous were the main enslaved group and so much smaller black populations. But in a place like brasil, with 169 racial categories, a Dos Santos today can be ‘white’ by brazilian terms (and MAYBE even by american terms, though less likely.) by the same token, my neighbor is black but his last name is Silva – so while his name demonstrates roots back to the inquisition in portugal, his physical features indicate african heritage. Race is real in latin america, and racism is even realer – its just different than here. For example, my hubby is ‘light brown’ in brasil, or ‘latino’ in the us, though his mom and sis are ‘black’ in brasil. So u can have 3 kids with 3 different races, its not just your ancestry, but your skin tone, features, hair (and to some degree socioeconomic class).

  • Ads

    @jolie contd.
    So thats brasil – in the dr, youre basically only ‘black’ if youre haitian – though you might have the same skin tone, features, and predominance of african blood, if ur dominican you’ll call yourself ‘indio’ though you likely have minimal taino blood, just because the 2 countries define themselves in opposition to each other and to be black is to be haitian.

  • Wanda

    This race stuff is more confusing than ever.

    Her people come from Spain, which is in Europe. Historically, we’ve considered Europeans “white.”

    The whole American “Hispanic” or “Latino” movement is only about 30 years old. Rita Hayworth wasn’t considered a “Hispanic” years ago by society and Hollywood in the 1940s.

    Neither were Anthony Quinn, Cesar Romero or Raquel Welch.

    That’s why there was no controversy when Lucille Ball was married on 1950s television to Cuban (and some African DNA…) Desi Arnaz.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    this is what you get when you let everything and anything call it self black.
    you get hustlers using us for their own agenda.

  • Ms.Vee

    Should the term white person of color exist? Hell No.

    She is a mixed race woman (mestizo if i’m not mistaken) that enjoys a lot the privileges of having a white phenotype. Its complicated because mixed race people have so many various phenotypes in comparison to the non-mixed. Observe the twins of Kylie Hodgson and Remi Horder. Even though they are both racially the same they will not get treated the same. The closer you are to white (especially through phenotype) the greater your chances of enjoying more white privilege. Its a no brainer.

  • omfg

    the spaniards and the portuguese were among the first europeans to define themselves as white in relation to the black africans they encountered. hence the paradigm we’ve lived under for the past 500 years. they are white.

    nobody in europe, or most anywhere, is actually pure. the native americans can trace their dna to asia. some northern europeans can trace their dna to asia. this doesn’t negate what they are today.

    and if i go by that concept of who or what a caucasian is, pretty much people who are from the middle east, asia minor, etc. are caucasian. considering this, spaniards are quite “white”.

    the spaniards are white.

  • omfg

    times change.

    at one point spaniards and the portuguese ruled the world.

    just like at one point the chinese were the most powerful.

    the turks/ottoman empire once ruled.

    the mayans and aztecs once rules their regions.

    just because something is the way it is today, doesn’t mean that’s how it once was or will be in the future.

  • Ads

    @ajw im one of the people who said that i would belong to the nonexistant category of ‘dark-skinned white person,’ and brought up contexts where race is a continuum as opposed to the US binary. This isnt to challenge your opinion but i guess to pose my own broader question on my participation in clutch as a community. I read clutch daily and comment pretty often. I appreciate clutch as one of the few media spaces not only populated by, but controlled by and expressly for black women. As a non black woman who *unironically* believes in feminism solidarity, i come to clutch as one of the few media sources where i can read an article supporting rachel jeantel not just as a human worthy of dignity, but as a soldier of justice in a deadly-unjust world. I think for white women and others to have real solidarity with black women we need to read your media, and not just cnn or washington post. I also love in the comment section when i read from someone in alabama and then someone in ghana. When i comment, i do so believing i bring another perspective and open points of dialogue. But i can also appreciate the fact that maybe most BW readers want this to be a safe space for black women only, not a space for dialogue with a community of allies (and some trolls.) what i may see as dialogue, others may justifiably see as diversions or dilutions of black women’s concerns and voices. I guess im taking your post as an opportunity to evaluate and ask if dialogue beyond BW is not the intent or desire of the clutch community.

  • Jill

    No, she’s not mixed-race. As she stated, her Mexican family is of white European Spanish descent. She has no Native American ancestry. Therefore, she can’t be Mestizo.

    In Mexico, she would benefit fully from white privilege, colorism, and racism that exists there.

    In the US, she may be coded as Latino and potentially suffer from some misguided ‘racial’ prejudice.

    No one thinks blonde, blue-eyed Cameron Diaz as non-white. Yet, people perceive Sofia Vergara as Latina and non-white even though she is clearly white (her natural hair color is blonde but she died it brunette because with her accent casting agents thought it hard to cast her).

  • AMP

    “. . . and looks white like many Mexicans do.”

    What world have you been living in?

  • Jilian

    What do you mean by allowing “anything [to] call itself black”? Are you talking about lighter skinned black Americans?

    Since most genetic surveys of African Americans show that regardless of skin color the average black American has 22% white ancestry are you thinking that only racially pure blacks can call themselves black? That would kick heck of a lot black Americans to the curb.

    I’ve seen a lot of black families where children come out in different shades. Would you feel comfortable instituting a brown bag test? I think the South African government used to have a grading scale based on skin tone and hair grade to assign people to be “black” or “colored (mixed).”

  • diasporauk

    This WOC “white people of colour movement” reminds me of the gay and feminist “movements”.

    Just another way to undermine the struggle for RACE & CLASS equality, which are the only social movements that pose a threat to white supremacy and its twin white privilege.

    How so?

    By manufacturing victim hood out of the failure of one sect of whites to achieve dominance or acceptance among other whites and equating that with the centuries of war conquest violence and exploitation of Afrikan peoples.

    The real victims of white supremacy’s atrocities, whose experiences we (blacks) be should be prioritizing and mobilizing around, are crowded and drowned out by cacophony of trivial grievances that the white supremacist machine can easily process and cater to without having to CHANGE itself in away way.

    Race and class demands on white supremacy are another matter altogether. The more equality blacks acquire, the less “supremacy” whites have left. You are effecting a fundamental CHANGE in the character of black/white relations which whites just cannot deal with.

    Do you get it now?

    I’ve lost count of all the f*cks I don’t give that “race is socially constructed” or about how white you are in Mexico, but Mexican when you’re in America.

    That’s your pathetic little beef — and don’t be confused . . . THIS particular black man does not give shit that you prefer to identify as white. That just makes you another unimportant minion of white supremacy.

    Since you submit to white supremacy, enjoying the privileges it gives you when you’re among darker skinned peoples, don’t complain when you find yourself UNDER-privileged when you’re among REAL white people. Coz I personally – don’t care to listen and invite other blacks to join me in NOT listening to these clowns.


    Just proves what I said about race mixing only producing a bi-racial cohort of white supremacy cannon fodder.


  • Clutch

    You are correct. Duly noted.


  • jazo

    She sounds exactly like what she is…a bit confused and unsure of her place in the world. She needs prayer.

  • Paige Stewart (@NewsFromRedLips)

    So let me get this straight because her grandmother is white that makes her WHITE. Well if we’re going by that logic, then I am Italian because my grandmother is Italian. I mean where does it end? Looks like she was privileged in Mexico because of her fair skin, but came to America and these racist here let her know, “Uh, your Mexican and that’s that! You will never be white!” Obviously that was shocking hurt her feelings and she’s doing everything she can to reverse that. She mentioned Spanish heritage but the rest of Europe doesn’t really consider Spanish people or Italians White. Someone from England or Russia would considered someone Spanish the same as them. Just read history to find that out. So she can chill on that Spanish claims too. As someone else mentioned she needs prayer.

  • Kam

    I saw the same at my highschool where there were a couple of students who were grew up in the U.S. (in Hispanic neighborhoods) but their family were Spaniards. They got the Hispanic label all the same. We knew they were some kind of White, but they were definitely considered less White than the Italians.

  • meep

    Thank you for correcting this! And, again, great article.

  • Ms.Vee


    “No, she’s not mixed-race. As she stated, her Mexican family is of white European Spanish descent. She has no Native American ancestry.”

    She stated that her mother is biracial (Mexican and Anglo-American). We can all agree that Mexican and/or Spanish is not a race (neither is American). However in the erroneous context that she used it she was definitely implying that one of her grandparents is non-white. Therefore its quite possible that she has Native American ancestry.

    She seems confused about race and nationality. If her father is indeed a white Mexican then he’s still racially white.

  • Beautiful Mic

    This girl is an example of the type of IDEAL mixed-race, one-race, world THEY keep telling us will be a non-racist society.

  • black and red star

    This blog is totally off-point.

    Race is socially, culturally & contextually defined and created. Race in Mexico is not defined the same as in the US or as in Brazil or as in the Dominican Republic.

    Your blog post disturbingly walks into a position that race is objective, static, natural, and phenotypically-defined. Basically, the same point that white supremacists (whether “white Dominicanas” against “black” Dominicans of Haitian descent argue or KKK members argue).

    You also fail to acknowledge that racial identity is about a process of “othering” to borrow from Edward Said. It is also defined as much by the looker. In this case you are saying she’s white, but as she points out: to white Americans, she’s a person of color. You are trying to fit her into some convenient racial this-or-that box as white folks do rather than being able to accept that race is a social construct and is defined by yourself as much as it is defined by others. This is the point of race – it’s not fixed. Thus, you define her as white while others don’t.

    Again, your claim that nationality and race are not linked is absurd. Have you studied the history of race in the US? Have you studied how Irish and Italians weren’t considered “white” 100 years ago? Certainly, they were not treated like African folks were treated, but they weren’t imbued with the same privileges or rights as “white” Americans.

    I’m tired of these sophomoric, introductory analyses of race. If you truly want to dismantle racism you need to realize how it is constructed and re-constructed and how you are helping to perpetuate it with an antiquated and almost eugenics-style editorial as you’ve posted here. You’ve drank the kool-aid that white supremacists have been pouring.

  • blaque217

    To me, even in that black and white photo, Ms. Alvarez does not look white. She looks like a Latina and in my opinion, she is of color. Just like the our one drop rule…just because this woman has a white grandfather, she is NOT white. She is more than a drop of Hispanic blood, and that in and of itself makes her a woman of color, not a white woman of color. People kill me trying to cling to any drop of whiteness as if that makes them better.

  • Beautiful Mic

    Hispanic names are Latin names – originating from Europeans. If most Latinos had Indigenous American names those would be considered having an ethnic sounding names.

    Jose Lopez, or Carlos Santana also exists among white indigenous Spaniards, and has existed within that population long before any such named person existed in the Americas.

    So, Ana Cecilia Alvarez is comparable to Anne Cecilia Alvin or Annmarrie Celine Abba are acceptable in the Anglo world because they come from the Anglophiles motherland – Europe.

  • Rachel

    “But here’s rub: being White excludes her from being a woman of color. Period”.— Does this mean you are excluding all mixed (w/ white) people from being people of color? Not to mention all the black folks that are mixed white because of slavery, and Natives because of colonization?

  • Kylieky

    So she is pretty much the equivalent of a white African. A white person (meaning of Caucasian or European)descent who was born and raised somewhere were actual people of color live.

  • Aslem

    Not the same thing and stop trying to make culture = race. My uncle was born in France and grew up there, in his 55 years, he’s only been to Africa twice for very short time, 2 weeks at most, he’s pretty much French and his children who are 100 % black (their mother is of Senegalese decent) are even “more” French than he is, they’ve never set foot on the African continent. Although their culture is completely French, people still ask them every now and then where they come from and they bluntly say Lille (Northern France), they are people of colour and they’ll never have the option to check another box on a survey (which don’t really exist in France anyway thank God) unlike this self-identified woman.

  • mark denning

    “Having a Spanish surname, being born in Mexico, and being bilingual does not grant her “colored” status anymore than if I’d been born in Germany and spoke German would somehow make me White.” That statement completely ignores what others bring to you, w/out even knowing you. Conceit pretty much covers the last statement in the article for this reader. The authors individuality and intellectual self indulgence spoiled what could have been a good read. Keep writing Anna, and Britini, racial contrivance is more than just you, your surrounded by people that react to you w/out your knowing. I need a shower from the micro aggressions evident in your critique.

  • Beautiful Mic

    Race isn’t as fluid as some people pump it up to be.

  • Aslem

    I’m sorry but that’s the silliest thing I’ve ever read. If I’m understanding you correctly she doesn’t have a “white” look whatever that means. Do you know that white people come in different skin/eye shades, nose/eye shapes? You’re probably one of those people who think that Greeks and Portuguese don’t count as white. Do you know that Catherina Zeta-Jones is Welsh? You can’t get any whiter than that. Caucasians are also a diverse race, this girl is white.

  • Aslem

    The U.S really needs to get its education together. I’m sick of reading about race and culture being dumped in the same box, it’s so freaking idiotic sorry. I mean if we follow this logic, Charize Theron is black because after all she’s South African. Mexican is not a race for effin’ sake! I mean for the amount of Nationalism and Patriotism America loves to pride itself on, you’d think they’d gotten a grasp of what a Nationality is. Not all Mexicans are mixed with indigenous native americans,Spaniards (people from Spain, not people who speak Spanish!) are Caucasians. Honestly I’m just happy I don’t live there anymore because I got sick of hearing “that Spanish girl” who was in fact Salvadorian. SMH

  • black and red star

    “race mixing”? jeesh.

  • black and red star

    And of course, you consider Obama to be “black” even though his mother is “white”, no?

  • Gabe

    It seems troubling to me that the author of this article fails to acknowledge the complexity of parsing out the difference between race/ethnicity/nationality for Latinos/Hispanics in the United States.

    I’ll use myself as an example. “Latino” or “Hispanic,” which is neither a race nor a nationality, is how I’ve been instructed to identify myself in the United States. My mother’s side of the family comes from Spain, and my father’s roots can be traced to the indigenous Taino tribe of Puerto Rico. When I visit Puerto Rico, I am for all intents an purposes a “white male.” But in the United States, my heritage dictates my “non-white” status. However, Latino is not a race and “white” is not a nationality, so these concepts are confused and inter-connected for me on a daily basis.

    This is why I take issue with the author’s insensitivity toward a Latino’s confusion when trying to parse out the difference between race and ethnicity while struggling with their identity. Do I think the way Western culture conflates the two in a frustrating and idiotic way? Yes. Does this mean the ideology of establishing “difference” that promoted the creation of the terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” in the U.S. (primarily for purposes of the census) is a sound once to follow? No.

    I would appreciate a more nuanced, and sensitive, approach to a young Latina’s attempts to figure out where these concepts intersect in the Unites States — and what that means in terms of shaping our own identities. To say that any Latino is excluded from a identify as a person of color “period” seems ignorant to these truths.

  • Sancho Panza

    Uhhh… In case no body informed you, race is an arbitrary construct. I’m not quite sure why you’re policing the bounds of a relatively recent social construction of race (as ‘whiteness’ versus ‘blackness’ or more recently ‘of colorness’) – a construction intimately bound up with slavery and European colonial enterprises of the past centuries.

    The bounds of whiteness, blackness and all these problematic new racial elements in the Western stew-pot are continuously being redrawn in accordance with the exigencies of power. None of them are essential conditions; they are imposed from without.

    Hence a ‘white’ or ‘light-skinned’ Latino in New York will generally live their life as a ‘non-white’ minority, whether they like it or not. And that’s fundamentally what race is – what people say you are. Turns out, this gets confused when you moves from one cultural context to another, and in the process from one construction of race to another.

    It’s kind of sad seeing an intelligent person of color with these arbitrary bounds so deeply internalized, and worse yet, saying who’s allowed on their side of the plantation.

    PS – Since when has ‘mestizo’ been a race? It’s precisely the condition of being multi-racial, a condition deeply problematic to your conception of race. No offense, but you seem to be more confused than the poor Mexican girl.

  • Marlene

    HA! Girl, I always cringe when Charlize comes on, cause I fell she is literally 1/2 a step away from claiming blackness. I can’t with her and other “cultured” white people (including Ms. Alvarez).

  • diasporauk

    LOL! &


    Well I’d appreciate a more “nuanced” discussion about how to dismantle white supremacy, which is the major impediment to Peace Justice and Freedom in this life and this world.

    But I’m also a straight hater, and since no one’s discussing my “nuances” (LMAO) I don’t want em to discuss YOURS.

    Kiss teet —

    bout “I would like a more nuanced . . . . (all brainy n shit)

    rolls eyes


  • Nic

    In the US, black descendants of slaves have many generations of racial mixing in their family trees. So it is not unusual at all for a person to be light enough for white people and some black people to be confused, and you don’t have to have a non-black parents for that to be true.
    It’s funny b/c your comment reminds me of being asked by a West African if my mother was “mixed” b/c she isn’t dark-skinned (but solidly medium) and has very straight hair. I thought it was an odd question but I thought there was a lot more variation in skin color among African people than that.

  • salsajmexico

    It really depends on your definition of “white.” I believe that, by American law, Mexicans and certain other Hispanic groups are defined as white. But do most people, white or black, define Mexicans as white?
    Yes, Ana sounds confused, but this author sounds as if she’s also confused. By law, I, a 100% Afro-Latino, could be classified as white (with my medium brown complexion and Cree Summer-like curls) if we’re just going to look at it like the little “check here” race boxes.
    So this boils down to your definition of Hispanics…which could include a person of primarily African, European, or Native descent. Sure, we Hispanics might be able to check the white box but most people will never accept us as “white.” I feel like this whole situation is also an example of the ignorance of African-Americans toward the unique identity of Afro-Latinos and other Hispanic groups. Yes, I can be black and not African-American. Yes, I can be Hispanic and black. To say that this woman is “white” (According to American standards here) and not a woman of color is ridiculous.

  • AJW

    Solidarity my ass. Whites have been spewing this same garbage for decades.

    Me personally, I could care less about you guys & your lip service because that is all that it is. I come to Clutch to get the hell away from y’all. I’m not gonna spare your feelings. SOME blacks can function without having to beg for your attention, fake friendships & phoney “solidarity”. I would be one of them.

  • Z

    Yes. Although I read the piece more as a discussion of one example of the ways in which racial classification is arbitrary and is done differently in different places … one more example of the strangeness of navigating the different categorizations that have been created, and their implications.

  • Tim Heal

    It’s really almost entirely cultural. In the UK the idea that Spanish people aren’t white would be laughable to nearly everyone. However you only need to go back 40 or so years to when the Irish (who generally look identical to us) were treated in the same way as for example people of African descent were (in 1963 in Bristol, signs reading ‘No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs’ were commonly seen outside hotels, hostels and B&Bs).

  • WhatIThink

    The idea that people South of the border don’t know what discrimination is based on skin color is ludicrous. There is just as much color discrimination south of the border as there is anywhere else. Therefore to pretend this woman is the same as a coal black woman of African descent as a “person of color” is more than nonsensical. Spanish and Portuguese cultures in South and Central America don’t just think in terms of Black or White as opposed to Creole, Mulatto, Mestizo, Indio and so forth, reflecting the levels of admixture among 3 groups:Africans, Europeans and Native Americans.

    But regardless of what grouping they are in South of the Border, the Anglo Americans discriminated against them primarily because of the history and culture. It has nothing to do with skin color.

  • Ads

    Well thanks for being first frank reply – that’s why I asked the question.

  • niksmit

    Your belief is incorrect. There are no laws the prescribe race in the United States anymore. There are U.S. Census checkboxes and they treat only Hispanic/Latino as an ethnicity not a race. The Census acknowledges that one can be Hispanic & Black or White.

  • arfarf

    I think it makes sense that white Latinos would say they don’t feel they should be lumped in with white Anglos. And they have cultural affinity with other Latinos, even if here and in Latin America they don’t have the solidarity people wish for.

    If race is a cultural construction, telling people they have no right to feel alienated from a culture they aren’t part of – “too bad, you’re white,” is not the right approach. I don’t think this woman is trying to be something she isn’t.

    This is trying to find a place where someone with unclear personal identity and public perception fits in, a new growing Latin identity in a place with a tradition of bipolarity, as in, you’re only black or white. And it’s a problem for Latin identity that’s going to take time to settle.

    All that said, saying you don’t want her on your side doesn’t seem like the nicest approach to this.

  • Taylor

    Funny, even if her roots are traced to Spain, she is not white. Europeans don’t see Spaniards as white either, they are Hispanic. Spaniards are very quick to identify themselves as conquerors who are totally separate from being the conquored, i.e., every country in Latin America. But no matter what, when it is about that one drop of blood rule, she is not Caucasian. her bac

  • Luz

    I think the author oversimplifies the concept of race in this article. Its very dismissive and condescending. Alvarez is not trying to compare her experiences to the oppression many WOC experience but I feel like the author seems personally victimized by her identifying as a “white woman of color.” Race is not so cut and dry and as Alvarez points out, here in the U.S. she will not be considered white and will always be “other.” I would like to see a more in-depth analysis of the different identity/race issues facing Latinos/Hispanics. One that is not so defensive. FWIW I’m of Puerto Rican descent (father’s side is mostly Spaniard with some Irish thrown in and mother’s side is Taino and Black). I can somewhat relate to Alvarez. I grew up and still live in a predominantly Black neighborhood. I’m probably one of the lightest skinned individuals, taking after my father, and was labeled the white girl. But when I’m around whites, I’m ALWAYS reminded that I am not one of them. So am I not “colored” enough for this author either?

  • ArabellaMichaela

    For the vast majority of Latinos/Hispanics, whichever, the fact is that in any other country in the world (certainly not in Europe) you are not considered white. It is uniquely in America that your relatively light skin color (compared to blacks) gives you any social/economic advantage at all. And Hispanics/Latinos are well aware of this. Blacks, African Americans are “the buffer” between every other ethnic group ( and I could include in this white ethnics like kim kardashian Armenians, untouchable caste Indians, Chinese, even Jews) and racism. The fact is in America, you don’t have to be white. You simply have to be NOT black.
    Other ethnic groups are well aware of this. The dirty little secret is they LIKE having this advantage when they immigrate here.

  • Ana Cecilia Alvarez

    Hi Britni (& other Clutch Mag Readers)

    Thank you for your response to my piece. I am glad have run into this. I had no clue this whole conversation was happening. I respect and hear your concerns. One clarification that I would like to share — although as you dully note that Mexican is not a race, my grandfather was a dark-skinned Mestizo. I implied this in the piece when I related that my Mestizo grandfather married my withe grandmother, he better the otherwise indigenous, colored bloodline.

    And one response — this piece came out of a personal struggle around racial and ethnic identification. I did not allow myself to enter spaces for people of color at brown because I saw my own implicit privilege with owning that title. Yet I am too invested in feminism, and too impassioned and excited about the conversations around feminism and race, to no longer talk and think about what my privilege and race and ethnicity mean. I do not think it is necessarily fair to say that I “[try] to keep a foot in both worlds by choosing an identity when it suits [me]“. If anything I have been unable to place my foot anywhere at all.

    Again, though, thank you for your thoughtful engagement with my article. This piece took a lot out of me to share, and I am glad that it has started conversations.


  • Nic

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I think that as many have commented, race in the US is a complicated subject. Here, at least if you are black, blackness was defined for you, and for the most part, until recently, that is the rule everyone seemed to follow. Also, we are at this point just the result of several centuries of mixing so what color a baby from one or two black parents will look like is anyone’s guess.
    Now we are at a time when people can opt-out of blackness if they look white (in the past doing so and being discovered could get you killed) so it is interesting to hear how other people who look white but aren’t 100% European relate, esp. when coming from other cultures where the notion of race and privilege are defined so differently.

  • Kiki

    I really wish people would stop acting like the “one-drop rule” or conflicts between light and dark skin people is a issue only in America.

  • whilome

    Thank you.

  • Britni Danielle

    Hi Ana,

    Thank you for reading and reaching out; I truly appreciate it. I also appreciate you sharing your perspective and being the catalyst for yet another dialogue on race, ethnicity, and nationality and how it manifests both here and in other parts of the world.

    After feeling hesitant to speak up, I am glad you decided to enter the discussion, especially since feminism and inclusion are important topics to you. While I understand your essay comes out of your own experience and you did not intend for it to seem as if you were claiming Women of Color/White woman status when convenient, the fact that you are even able to pull back or engage whenever you want speaks volumes about the difference in your experience vs. most women of color, particularly Black women.

    While I was reading your piece, I couldn’t help but wish that instead of merely staying quiet on your complicated identity in the past (particularly while at Brown) and letting others define who you were (i.e. after immigrating to the States)…or shirking away from sharing your perspective, you would have used those opportunities to school others on your identity (of course, I realize this may have been completely frustrating and exhausting, but part of me wishes you would have tried, or mentioned wanting to in the essay).

    Again, thank you for sharing your personal experience. I hope conversations around the complexities (and quite honestly, the complete absurdity) of race continue.

    Be well,
    Britni Danielle

  • JRJ20716


    Not so fast, she is indeed “mixed-race and she explains in the beginning of this comment thread.

    “One clarification that I would like to share — although as you dully note that Mexican is not a race, my grandfather was a dark-skinned Mestizo. I implied this in the piece when I related that my Mestizo grandfather married my withe [sic] grandmother, he better the otherwise indigenous, colored bloodline.”

    Ms. Vee had the right idea.

  • everythingl

    No. He’s talking about people who aren’t black at all (or as far as they know) equating whatever experiences they have to being black. He’s talking about that “everything but the burden” crowd. Not light-skinned black people of African/Caribbean descent.

  • Black People

    Spain, Spaniards, the Spanish, Portugal, the Portuguese, Iberians, have created the world’s biggest, most racist, brutal, and oppressive caste systems based on race and skin color on planet earth. From South America and the Caribbean, to Africa, and Asia, there is to this very day, a racist and oppressive caste system in place in these countries.

    Because this woman was a white in Mexico, and benefitted greatly from it, and is now a woman of color in America, people of African descent (Black Women), are supposed to identify, sympathize, and have empathy for this woman? This is a highly offensive joke, that I can’t simply bear to laugh. Southern Europeans are white in their countries, from the Mediterranean Sea all the way to South America, but because they go to Anglo ruled countries and can’t get along with their white brethren, all of the sudden their people of color and they can sympathize with people with African descent. Give me a break. Just because people of European descent don’t get along does not mean you share anything with black people. A couple of white males ogled you, so now you’ve been victimized by white patriarchy? They made you you feel like a fiery Latina? Are you serious? From Mexico to Brazil whites are worshipped, which you claim to be, but because Anglos found out your full name to be Spanish, you don’t feel white anymore.

    Are Sicilians going through the Black African experience because their darker skin, hair and eyes, when in comparison to their Northern Italians, with lighter hair, eyes, and skin? No. Do Sicilians stand in solidarity with Africans in regards to humane treatment in Italy? No, in fact their running them out. Your not Northern European white, so black people should have sympathy for you. No, because you’ll gladly participate in the same racial oppressive regime against people of African descent if you could.

    Last but not least, The term “People of Color” was created by white males to lump in all non-whites into one category, to drum up fear and support for whatever cause. Ex. The dark hordes are going to take America. But this term is perverted because people of African descent have fought against all races for their white supremacy ideology. Whether it be South Americans, Indians, Asians, or Middle Easterners. Also, white people are people of color. They have different skin tones, hair color, and eyes. Therefore the term is mute unto itself.

  • Rosaleee

    You have great points and I agree with you 99%. Where I disagree with you is the characterization of the “people of color” term. I was around when this term was originated in scholarly discussions of issues of race and gender in the 1980s. The term came from non-whites — chosen because they did not appreciate being defined by what they were not. It was intended to UNITE people of color — recognizing their common oppression. White folks were quite content to just call them “non-whites.” It is a TERM OF RESISTANCE, not oppression.

  • ale (@alejv)

    Jose Vasconcelos’ “La Raza Cosmica”

    You’re correct in noting that race is relatively new and a social construct. As such perhaps you can recognize that in some instances and in some countries “mestizx” is considered a race, like in Mexico.

    You can be a white (race) Latinx (ethnicity), Mexican (culture, nationality).

    Nationality, race, ethnicity, culture intersect at various points in different places and contexts.

  • Rhiannon

    What on earth?! I’m a white woman from Washington D.C. living in Mexico with my Mayan mestizo partner. The white privilege here is almost impossible to overstate. I’ve never experienced anything like it, even living in the Deep South.

    I’m not really understanding how she could want or claim to deserve solidarity with women of color with a straight face.

    I don’t know how it is on the east coast of Mexico, where there’s a significant Afro-carribean presence, but on the west coast the population is easily 98% mestizo, yet it’s only güeras (white Latinas) like Alvarez who receive any sort of positive media representation.

    It shouldn’t be surprising though, since there was a legally enforced ethnic-based caste system in place during Spanish rule (the rank went Spaniards, then European-born whites, followed by criollos or people of Spanish descent born in Mexico, mestizos and waaay at the bottom indigenous peoples) and they were fighting skirmishes over The Caste War (1847-1901) in Yucatán until at least 1933.

  • figurin’ it out in tx

    As a white man I am hesitant to post on this, however…
    The idea of race vs. Nationality is an interesting argument. As I understand history though, Mexcan would be a race separate of Spanish as Mexico is a country of conquered peoples from Spanish explorers. Please forgive my possible ignorance. I also believe that this kind of racisim is perpetuated just as much by people of color as it is by the pigmentaly challenged individual if not more so. Cultural appropriation is a new phenomena to me. Living in the great “melting pot” that is america I assumed that incorporating foreign culture was a good thing. However after moody Cyrus I’m starting to understand what the problem is. I don’t mean to offend. Please help me understand.

  • Kirk

    Ugh, I am white here and in Honduras where my family has had Anglo surnames for 150 years. My husband is a white Cuban. Outside of Miami the amount of racism and bigotry he received from white people forced us back here. To have to listen to those “American” moms complain about those (awful, lazy, dirty)”Mexicans” at the PTA completely unaware that my son had a Spanish surname.

    My husband, a senior manager and a nuclear chemical engineer was humiliated by a senior white VP when she pointed to the landscapers outside the conference room window and told him “that he was lucky not to be working outside with them.” The whole staff laughed right along with her.

    Don’t tell me that we “white” Latinos don’t feel the same humiliation and pain and anger when this happens. National origin is a place where bigotry exists, to think its just about skin color shows naïveté and willful ignorance.

  • Tyrone

    @Britni Danielle

    I’m amazed that blackwomen keep trying to colorize mixed whitewomen. EducateSpanish Sd black folk know about The Moors that invaded Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, etc. They were blackmen from North Africa, blame them for this insanity. Spanish and Middle Eastern whitewomen have no incentive to identify as “White.” What sane person wants to associate themselves with the slavemasters? At the same time, J-Lo and Kim K enjoy white priviledge just the same. Sistas, this issue is about culture. Blackwomen gave birth to ethnic whitewomen directly or indirectly. Their behavior in relation to sistas speaks for itself. Honestly, they need to move on, they’re not black anymore…They’re White!

  • Josh

    “The buffer”? But they still experience racism. I’m “black.” I will never say, for example, that Asians share in the black experience but it is equally unfair to imply that they don’t experience significant racism in the same way that white wealthy, but gay men could experience significant oppression.

  • Josh

    I’ve noticed that many people are effectively using the term “PoC” as if it was the same as black person. What do you personally mean when you say “PoC”?

  • Wong Chia Chi

    Mmmm, later for this. She just wanted to have white privilege AND be exotic.

    The “struggle” is real, almost every light skinned latina/pakistani/east indian woman that I’ve known has this “struggle”. They complain about prejudice when it happens to them, but let your black ass do the same and then they trip over themselves to jump to the defense of white people, who they constantly deny being? They want to be a minority when it’s convenient for them. When it makes them “stand out” for being different but not when that difference is “bad”.

    I had a middle eastern friend who did this and I just cut her off. I still speak but the “friendship” has been downgraded significantly. She was bored and uninterested when me and another black muslim friend took her out, despite our attempts to include her and show her kindness. But when she goes out with her white boyfriend, and his friends ignore her most of the time, to the point that she has to get drunk every night, she wants to come complain to me about it. I nod politely, and smile but then I tell her “Sorry I have to go, see you later, have a good day.”

    In my experience middle eastern/ east indians tend to be the most hypocritical with this ish, and I know the author isn’t(she’s latina which is a whole nother can of worms) but this just reminds me of the fact that Gandhi when he was in South Africa, was totally cool with the apartheid as it applied to Black South Africans. He only had a problem when white people kicked him off a train, and he DIDN’T fight for the rights out all colored South Africans, he just fought so that apartheid wouldn’t apply to INDIANS. And judging by what my one friend from South Africa tells me the East Indians in South Africa are just as racist as the whites. Except they smile in your face and act like they’re not.

    Meanwhile Martin Luther wanted “equality for everyone”. I know people want to believe the rainbow theory of social justice but it rarely plays out in reality especially in regards to skin color, culture and class issues.

  • Gabriela

    You make it sound as though all people except for blacks are automatically racist by virtue of their skin color. Going by your judgement, would I, a woman who is proudly one-quarter black Dominican, one-quarter mixed Brazilian (Portugese, Filipino, and native Brazilian), and half white, be half racist (or three-quarters racist?) by virtue of my ethnic make-up? But, taking the rest of my immediate family into account (both of my parents, and my four siblings), I am most definitely the whitest-looking of my family, so does that make me the most racist of my family?

    You are basing your opinion of an entire people on the secondhand information of one single person. You’re whining about how people should just get along, but you are projecting racist preconception on different groups because of one incident. Perhaps it is time to reevaluate your ideas.

  • Bry

    A Person of Color is anyone who does not identify as White/ Anglo/European. It is not synonymous with Black/African.

  • Bry

    She is a white latin@. There are such things, just as there are such things as poc-latin@s (such as myself)….Her issue is whether or not she is white latin@ or just a white passing poc-latin@. In which case it is problematic …(and as such is problematic) that she (and other white passing poc…IF she/they are a poc) chooses what best suits her in different environments.

    Us obviously POC people can not simply turn our racial stigmas and stereotypes off when we don’t want to deal with it.

    Ultimately and sadly, it becomes a issue of white privilege and white passing privilege and assumed white guilt which has come to be a problem for a lot of white passing POC people (some are mixed POC/WHITE,some are not). But in and of itself Latin@’s are not always POC for the mere reason that it is a ethnicity and not a race, same as with being African.

    You can be a white latin@, you can be a white african, you can be white australian (or indigenous which is more POC than white)(more specifically south african…but still african none the less). To assume ALL latin@’s are POC is to not only erase the struggles and histories of both White AND POC latin@’s…it does the same for other cultures in which we try to match skin tone with a specific region.

    Blackness is a whole other issue that has to do mostly with with the US institution of race politics.

  • ska

    “They complain about prejudice when it happens to them, but let your black ass do the same and then they trip over themselves to jump to the defense of white people, who they constantly deny being?”

    this entire comment is kind of ridiculous and reeks of “all light-skinned people of this ethnic makeup are deeply racist because they want to be white and this is fact because of an interaction I had with two people of said background and something my friend told me”


  • SAK

    I find it unsettling that so many commenters are quick to dismiss ana’s post as whining. “what is she complaining about??? she looks white, talks white, etc… why can’t she just SHUT UP AND BE HAPPY AND WHITE!!”

    this sounds awfully familiar and not very productive at all. i don’t think complete exclusion accomplishes anything but feed into the same mentality that orchestrated this racist sociological system in the first place.

    yes, many light-passing poc are quick to internalize the whiteness that was genetically handed to them on a platter but, for many others who are more deeply embedded in their histories/cultures which have a history of being exoticized, choked, and continuously othered by white colonialism and mainstream narratives, it’s not a simple matter of being a minority when it’s “convenient.” many light-skinned poc and mixed people are highly conscious of their privilege and are not so quick to posture themselves in defense of white people as you’d think since that would be a complete erasure of THEIR histories as the “other” in face of white hegemony and colonialism. personally, i will never blindly accept, remain complicit and play along with the white-passing privilege i just so happened to inherit that was never a benefit to either of my parents (or grandparents), all of whom experienced their own battles against racist systems built to work against people that look like them. that would be a complete disrespect to them, their struggles, and the predominantly indigenous roots that dominate my bloodlines

    I think ana was trying to communicate her own awkward position in these discussions, which I agree was problematic at many points that this article, and commentators have pointed out. however, i wouldn’t be so quick to trivialize and minimize her experience and completely remove her from the discussion. hers is but a glimpse of what many mixed people/light-passing poc encounter to wildly varying degrees, and the complexities of these quests for identity and appropriate roles in dialogues will only grow. after all, wouldn’t it be a better reflection of character and awareness that they speak out on their experience and cognizance of their placement in this system rather than fall into the same trap of complete immersion into their privilege and subsequent erasure of their roots?

    all im saying is that for many light-passing mixed ppl, the “struggle” is way more complex, confusing, and real than you’d think and it’s important that these voices are listened to rather than dismissed, because devaluing them would be an all-too familiar and doomed approach — a flip side of the same (white) coin

  • cb


  • MBe

    In the UK, where I was born, I’ve been victim of racial slurs. In Hong Kong, I been asked if I was Mexican (I’m not. I’m half white half asian). There has not been one place where people haven’t asked me where I’m “really from”. People feel like it’s ok to say racist things in front of you, since you pass as white. POC accuse you of “reaping all the benefits” of white privilege. My childhood experiences were different when I was with my mother (a WOC, people assumed we were immigrants) from when I was with my father (people assumed we weren’t related, which became pretty awkward when I was a teen).

    This cannot compare to blatant discrimination that blacks endure in the US or in other parts of the world, but nonetheless it gives mixed people like myself the feeling of not belonging, and of not having any authority to talk about race, when in fact we experience both sides of the white/woc lifestyle, depending on our social environment. I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of commenting on a site where previous comments have said that non 100%POC people have no right commenting in their space, but hey, I’m for intersectionality and solidarity with all POC, even if that includes the colour white.

  • Jacqueline Velasquez-Ross

    This commentary is in the slant of a African American woman and as a Black Hispanic woman, I completely DISAGREE.

    My mother is a White Mexican, is a proud American and his Spanish blood running through her veins. If Ana identifies as White, she is White. If Ana identifies as a woman of color she is a woman of color!

    You do not know of her daily interactions with White, Black and Hispanic people and how THEY chose to categorize her.

    In my own experience, sometimes I am Black and sometimes I’m Hispanic. It depends on the day, what language I feel like speaking and what I chose to do! Not someone else!

    Race is a social construction, society has told you what White and Black is. But in reality, for Latinos…we are EVERYTHING. A cultural mix of all kinds of white ancestry, African tribes, people from all parts of Asia and native Indians. You can’t tell me or Ana what we are and who we want to be because we are everything under the sun!

  • proud

    She has a lot of self hate from what I can see. You are MEXICAN and be proud of that. Thay is your race and that is how you were raised. Deal with it. This is coming from someone who has a white father who is british and a african american mother. Be proud of how God made you.

  • Tee

    Mexican is NOT a race – it’s a nationality!! Hispanic is not a race either – it’s an ethnicity – or should I say – a non- ending mix of ethnicities.

  • Tee

    Mexican is NOT a race – it’s a nationality!! Hispanic is not a race either – it’s an ethnicity – or should I say – a non- ending mix of ethnicities.

  • Arabeli

    Woman/man/people of color…another phrase to keep people divided. It’s just as bad as the ever-stupid-race-selection-section on the census application. Every person on earth has color on their skin, from pale to dark. Every person on earth has diversity in their blood…there’s no pure anything. Every person on earth came from one man and woman (Adam & Eve) and they weren’t pure anything either. From them, every person on earth carries their genes…from black hair/eyes to blond hair/blue eyes. The notion of being bi-racial is absolutely absurd…there’s only one race and it’s called human. She might think her dad is “Mexican through and through”, but a nationality is just that…a nationality and not a race. Again, there’s only one race…the human race.

  • Arabeli

    Everyone is everything under the sun. If a woman born in Scotland says her entire family are from Scotland, does that make her Scottish? Yes, because she was born there, it’s her nationality, but it’s just a nationality. A nationality doesn’t dictate your skin color. God only knows who her ancestors were as far as their features are concerned. However, rest assured, they were all of the human race.

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