In the 2nd grade, my teachers had plucked me from my regular class room and placed me in the unfamiliar world of the ELL program. From then on, I would spend portions of my days in the ELL classroom, hearing barely any english. At eight years old I was really confused about why I was there. Why couldn't I be with my friends in class. Why instead of doing plays was I shown flashcards with photos on them and asked what these words were called? Why did I spend majority of my day in a small classroom hearings words that I didn't know or understand. My teachers told me, that it would help my speaking. And my ELL teacher told me, "Its okay, its a safe environment here. You can speak Spanish."
My last name is Fernandez. F-E-R-N-A-N-D-E-Z. And its the hispanic community, its the 28th most popular surname. But, I am not hispanic. My last name, despite having a strong hispanic presence, roots me in no way back to a latino background. Instead, my last night roots be back to my Portuguese roots. Roots that I am proud of. Roots that represent my family and I. Just like how hispanic roots would connect someone else family and themselves if they are from a latino background. So, please stop hearing my last name and immdediently assume hispanic.
"Your last name is Fernandez?" A girl at a party asked me after adding me onto snap chat.
"But, you don't look hispanic?"
Well, because I'not.
I got pulled over last year. The police officer gave me a ticket and on it under race he wrote "Hispanic" without ever asking.
Getting nominated for latino scholarships.
Getting into programs because of "my" ethic minority.
Over and over again, the assumptions people make and the stereotypes they have of enthicity groups has caused barriers and assumptions to be made by others. Its not fair to assume another thing about someone. To put those ties and labels on them. If I was hispanic, I would cherish that part of my life. But I am not. I'm a portugues-italian women, who has had part of my identity controlled by others assumptions.
Its not fair or right, that peoples lives should be dictated by assumptions. Its not fair that 8 year old me was placed in a spanish speaking program when I was younger to help make school and learning english easier for me. Its not fair, that families background is silenced by the sterotypes people have made over time.
Don't make assumptions about my last name. It sucks the same when someone looks at me and says, "You don't look hawaiin...hawaiin people look like this...". When you make assumptions about people you are silencing them. You are telling them who they are and how the public should see them. Its not fair, its not right and its disgusting.
If I was a latina girl, I would be damn proud of that. But I am not. Instead, I am a proud Portuguese - Italian girl. I am proud of my roots.