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.I wish I could say it went differently, but there seemed to be more cons than pros that came with my Hispanic last name due to the racism my family and I have experienced for most of our lives.One of these asshats at the event immediately assumed that I was the help and told me that it wasn’t my job to be talking to people; it was my job to bus tables and bring out more food.Speechless, I silently picked up the closest messy plate and walked away.The son and my sister continued to see each other in secret for a little while, but the damage was done.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?However, I wasn’t simply deciding between a blue or a green sweater.I was choosing either a Mexican last name or a white last name.
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.
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?
It was sometime in the fifth or sixth grade that I started looking for ways to mask my Mexican-ness.