Saturday, July 14, 2007
What did you just say?
Perhaps, I am a little oversensitive, but some people just don't think before they speak. I am Hispanic, both of my parents are from Guatemala. My husband is Caucasian, hence the last name Mickelson. I have always been super sensitive about the way race is talked about. I acknowledge this and try not to hold it against people when they say something offensive. For the most part, people don't mean to offend. I just offend easily, I guess.
Two recent experiences have given me the need to say something about it. One friend (a very nice person) just finished reading my manuscript in which my main male character is Hispanic. She told me that she actually liked him which surprised her because she usually doesn't like Hispanic men because of their attitude. I was too shocked to respond which is usually what happens. What was I supposed to say? I wanted to say, "I gave birth to 3 Hispanic males and my father is a Hispanic male, how am I supposed to take that?" I truly respect and admire this woman and I'm not upset with her, but how can she think it's okay to say something like that to me?
Two days later, another friend who is sooo nice and would never intentionally hurt someone's feelings said something similar. We were discussing a classic literature book club that we are all a part of. She commented about a Hispanic man who just recently joined the book club and said that it is nice to see a Hispanic man who is educated and can make intelligent comments. Again, I was shocked. How can she say that in front of me? She looked at the shocked look on my face and said, "You're Guatemalan. I don't think of you as Hispanic." I have no idea what that means which takes me back a few years. A very good friend once told me that she didn't think of me as Hispanic. When I gave her a look, she said. "That's a compliment." I guess I don't know how to take a compliment.
I usually don't say anything to people because I don't want them to feel badly that they hurt my feelings. But, I'm starting to think that maybe I should say something to them so they can see it's not okay to say things like that, at least not to someone who is Hispanic. I don't know; I guess next time I'll just say: "What did you just say?" and give them a minute to think.