I have been called a lot of bad names and racial slurs in my lifetime, but the most hurtful insults come from people who are supposed to be close to me, who are supposed to be my friends. I believe I have been called all of the ethnic slurs for Mexicans, Hispanics, and Latinos. However, I was surprised that when I went to Mexico, I was called a gringo by my own cousins. That really hurt. I have even been called a racist by my cousins in Mexico.
I had spent most of my life thinking that I was a Mexican living in the U.S. of A. Most people often reminded me that I was a Mexican–either nicely or with an ethnic slur. But stranger’s comments don’t bother me as much as an insult from a loved one. However, when my cousins called me gringo, I was shocked and insulted. They were associating me with America, the very group from which I felt alienated at home. With an insult like that, I felt like I didn’t belong in either place. I still feel like an outsider to this day. I’m not really sure where I belong. No matter where I go, I always feel like an outsider.
Sometimes, I like to plan ahead. So even if it’s cool enough to wear a jacket when I leave the house and I know the temperature will warm up later, I will leave the house without a jacket. I just don’t feel like carrying the jacket when I stop wearing it once the temperature warms up. I consider myself rather practical in that sense.
Well, over the years, people have directed comments at me like, “You Latinos don’t have to wear a jacket when it’s cold because you’re hot blooded.” On the other hand, if I wear a jacket when it’s cool out, I hear, “You Latinos can’t take the cold.” In the winter when the temperatures are sub-freezing in Chicago, I don’t bundle up as much as everyone else. I can take the cold because I have acclimated myself to the the weather having lived in Chicago almost my entire life. So everyone around me will be bundled up and afraid to go out into the cold, but I’m already heading out the door before I zip up my winter coat.