Cultural identity has always been a touchy subject for me. As someone who was raised in a multi-ethnic neighbourhood, I understood the privilege I’ve had since a young age. Living in Japan opened my eyes to xenophobia, which hurt more to those with a darker skin tone than me. Just to be made clear, I’m 50% English and 50% Colombian, so it’s not hard to understand how my whiteness is a key element of my upbringing; the colonized with the coloniser. But for many biracial or multicultural folk, the non-white side can be the area of the family we identify more with. Maybe because it’s exotic, maybe because we raised more or less in that foreign culture, or maybe we cling to it so tightly because it has been pulled away from us so many times.
But while I accept my privileges I also feel that doesn’t allow me a free pass. I want to assert myself as I am. Representations are important, that there are people who don’t want their identity wiped clean. For a long time, people were skeptical of my credentials–basically believing I was waving the wannabe flag. You’re probably wondering why I care so deeply about representations? This is why I care. Because all those people think that your identity is tied to looking like something off a t-shirt.
So many people with white privilege get stuck in the guilt and anger stage. More conversations need to focus on the ways white privilege is eradicating people’s identities and how it can be used as tool for good. I want to leverage my skin privilege in order to build and amplify my voice, so that others are now hearing me talk loudly and clearly on social justice issues.