Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

A Hispanic by Any Other Name

by | Jan 11, 2024 | Life | 0 comments

“Juan,” the nurse in the waiting room called out.
“Juan,” she repeated.
I was busy playing with my kids on the playground, waiting for them to be called, when an older white woman approached me and told me, “They are looking for you.”
Can you believe it?!! The racism! The privilege!! The… Okay, fine, I’m kidding. I couldn’t care less. Honestly, I thought it was hysterical. I live for these interactions. It was priceless to see her face when I told her, “Yeah, no, I heard, but that’s not me.”
I added. “It could be me. I guess I can be a Juan.”
Because it’s true, we can all be Juan. But ‘all’ only includes you if you are a Latino.
The woman’s face dropped; she tried to recover with an “Oh, I’m so sorry he dresses just like you.”
Now, people, let me tell you. I didn’t look like Juan, and he did not dress like me.
I drive thirty minutes to a small coastal city called Point Reyes. I go to this clinic because this is where our midwife works, and we like her. But, it is a small clinic in a small city, which means it is primarily frequented by the farm laborers who work in the nearby areas.
So Juan and I looked a little different.
But I could be a Juan because I look Hispanic.
Cultural traditions are unimaginative like that, which means that for Hispanics, there is an abundance of Juanes, Joses, Carlos y Pedros.
And I definitely look Hispanic.
Except to that one guy who, on a Sunday afternoon at the Barlow in Sebastopol, asked me if I had seen the half-Persian presidential candidate on Fox News and told me, “he looks like you but more Persian,” to which I thought, “well, that shouldn’t be hard since I have zero Persian in me.
But I definitely look Hispanic, so you can interchange my name for any of the common Latino name placeholders, and I won’t care.
One time, I went to lunch with a representative of a large insurance company we worked with. The CUO invited me to join them. I shook the representative’s hand when I met her; I introduced myself, and I gave her my business card. We had lunch and wine. We told stories and jokes. We spent two hours together. I shook her hand when she left.
She emailed the CUO a few hours after lunch and told him it was nice meeting him and Pedro. We were the only ones at lunch, so you guessed it right, I WAS PEDRO!!
But I don’t care because the truth is that it doesn’t matter.
This is one small lesson I would love to impart to my daughters, “It doesn’t matter what the world calls you. It only matters what you call yourself.”

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