Acting White

Some of Jesse Jackson’s recent comments,“Jesse Jackson: Obama’s ‘acting like he’s white'”, brought back some memories from high school and yes even college.

In my high school, there were some so-called Mexicans/Hispanics (I say so-called because most of them weren’t actually born in the countries of our parent culture) who accused me and other Mexicans of “acting white” (the fact that we are considered Caucasian was lost on them).

What they meant by that was: actually giving a flip about education and trying to get into college.

As if going to college was only something “white” people do. Went to college and thought these type of comments were over and done with. I was mistaken.

While at Texas I decided to take a Mexican-American Studies course to satisfy a non-science writing component requirement. Some of my classmates (class size = 15 or so) were pretty gung-ho about the “oppression” and “injustice” inflicted upon Mexicans by the white “hegemony” (a favorite word of amateur and professional “victims”).

In college I was accused of “acting white” again by so-called Mexicans (not only were they not born in México, they could hardly speak any Spanish, go figure).

While their reasoning was different than that of the folks from my high school, it wasn’t any better.

In college, I was accused of “acting white” because I didn’t make it my life goal to see “oppression” behind every bush on the 40 Acres, and because I had a white girlfriend (I eventually married a “white” woman so I guess I’m not keeping it real).

This not to say, that the University of Texas campus isn’t voluntarily segregated, don’t folks usually feel more comfortable around others like them?

Racism still exists no question about it, but who else but a bigot would accuse someone of “acting white”?

2 Responses to Acting White

  1. jonolan says:

    Hush! haven’t you learned yet that only ‘Whites” can be racists? It’s a solely White phenomenon; I know all the minority pundits tell me so – time and time again.

  2. At UCLA in the late 80s, a group of MeCHa students surrounded me as I ate in the dormitory cafeteria. One of them grabbed the grapes I had on my tray and asked me why I didn’t support my “brothers and sisters in the fields.” I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about, but I immediately grew perturbed and asked them why they had taken my grapes.

    They launched into a Cesar Chavez diatribe and asked me why I was betraying “my people.” I looked them in the eyes and calmly but angrily told them I am part Puerto Rican and part English/Hungarian/Italian. And, that I had no idea who Chavez was and that I really didn’t care. I got up, got more grapes, and sat down again. When one of the Mechistas reached for the grapes, I grabbed his wrist and told him to leave immediately or I would break his arm.

    They grudgingly left. I had never before come so close to becoming violent, nor had I since. I resented them for causing me to feel that way. But, after that auspicious incident, I realized full well what type of people make up that organization. I made a point of never having anything to do with them.

    “Acting white…” What nonsense! If behaving in a civilized manner, and taking yourself seriously enough to better yourself is acting white, then call me Casper.

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