Reflection on Privilege: Valeria Torres-Olivares

I was born in New York City to two proud Mexican parents. While living in the United States I have been branded as a Hispanic female. This label, along with my features and my heritage, has created baggage that I cannot unload. I will carry around the burden of knowing that people will always see and treat me differently even though I was born in the same country as them. My experiences range from being placed in ESL classes in elementary school—even though my first spoken language was English—to surprising a middle school teacher who could not believe I got an “A” on a math exam.  

I notice that people relegate me to a certain part of society based on the stereotypes about Hispanics. Furthermore, I carry around the knowledge that as a Hispanic female, the wage gap is even wider than that of the average white woman.

All this labeling does not stop at the United States/Mexico border—it goes both ways. When in Mexico, I am no longer the typical Hispanic female, I am what they call a gringa, a term used to categorize American English-speaking white females. This transition from label to label honestly makes me feel as though I do not belong in either country. In Mexico, where there are supposed to be people “like me,” I am still looked upon as a foreigner.

Where am I supposed to fit in? In my own country, the United States, I am met with discrimination because of the color of my skin. In my own country, I am met with the results of white privilege. To white people all is given—there are no limitations. That is privilege, a construct created by them, for them. White privilege allows white students to be accepted into their dream schools without their success being accredited to their race. Conversely, if I were to get into a renowned school, then people would think that I got in simply because I am Hispanic. White privilege allows white citizens to see themselves represented everywhere, whether it be in the books they read in English class, or in their history textbooks.  

No matter how hard I study, no matter how many times I have proven myself, my achievements will always be accredited to my race, ethnicity, gender, and color. When people are under the misconception that we are living in a world where we are all equal, it is crucial that they look beyond themselves and their experiences, because in my experience, I’ve learned that equality does not guarantee equity. Equality is about sameness and fairness. Equity is about impartiality and making sure that people get access to the same opportunities. White privilege ensures that both equality and equity are not granted to everyone.BoyReading

Leave a Reply

Please use your real name and email. Your email address will not be published.

Any comments containing the following material will be removed:
  • Hostility or insulting language directed towards other users, authors, Tower staff, or a specific group of people
  • Any type of harassment
  • Profanity, crude language, or slurs
  • Personal information about yourself or anyone else
  • Discussion unrelated to the article