Since then, whenever I introduced myself to the parents and grandparents of any white guy I dated, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Are they genuinely happy to meet me, or were they expecting someone else and are now praying that this doesn’t last?
”The minute someone read or heard the name “Rodriguez,” they made assumptions — that I’m not educated, that I’m poor, that I’m promiscuous, that I’m unable to write well and that I’m someone who can’t be trusted.
His parents made it clear that it wasn’t acceptable to be seriously dating a Mexican girl. His parents had been so kind to us; I had thought they respected my family as equals.
The son and my sister continued to see each other in secret for a little while, but the damage was done.
Because I didn’t want to let my candidate down, I swallowed the tears, put on my campaigning smile and continued with the event. In a college class of mine, the topic of immigration came up.
Not realizing there was a Mexican in his midst — because we couldn’t possibly go to universities alongside one — a classmate made a comment that Mexicans don’t deserve to be in this country and that they abuse the welfare system, eat up taxpayer money and don’t contribute anything to society as a whole.They were seen as really nice people — until my sister started dating their son.One day my sister came home sobbing because this boy had broken up with her. Having worked in the service industry throughout high school and college, I know how annoying it is when people come up to the counter but haven’t made their decision yet.However, I wasn’t simply deciding between a blue or a green sweater.But as I got older, I begin to notice commonalities: brown people worked on the farms, not white people.White people were the teachers, doctors and business owners, the people who lived in nice houses, not the kind with cracked linoleum floors peeling up like moldy cheese.I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why white people had more access to things than Mexicans.I knew they had more money and seemed smart and important, but how did they get to be that way?If I went through with this name change, I would no longer have a Hispanic label attached to me.As I stared at the blank space under “New Last Name,” I recalled all the times my Mexican name and heritage had influenced events or situations in my life, and I began weighing the pros and cons.