Identity crisis

2 min read

I have always been conscious of the fact that I am brown. Yellow, if this were in the thick of it World War II America. A light-skinned brown, that I attribute to 1) my half-Filipina/half-white grandma, 2) my pale-skinned Filipina mother, 3) the lack of humidity in Vegas that does not change my light skin brown when exposed to the sun. I go home to California, the melanin in my skin does a happy dance and cheerfully toasts my epidermis to a healthy Filipina color.

My favorite instance of being carefully reminded of my brown is when a guest I had at work saw me with my dark hair and Buddy Holly framed face. He assumed I was Spanish, and asked if I spoke it. I was caught off guard because usually when people preface their line of questioning in my line of work, it is because they are comfortable speaking in their native language in a foreign country. I don’t begrudge that. However, he himself was clearly Asian. If I daresay, by the slant of his eyes and lilt of his words, he too was Filipino. Prejudice works in mysterious ways.

Why do I bring this up? In order to keep my mind preoccupied with the less desirable thoughts churning in my brain (i.e. Simba), I noticed that marketing departments tend to favor white folks in their ad campaigns. On the inverse, when I have downtime and can people watch, all I see are of varying shades of brown like me. Lots of native Spanish speakers, Mexicans, Portuguese, Indians (proper Indians from India), and even “white” people with British Empire accents who tan. Quelle surprise.

Case in point: there is a massive billboard I see every day showing the stereotypical types of women whom we try to entice to visit Vegas. One is the light-skinned token black girl, the next is a light-skinned brunette who may or may not be of full or partial Latin descent, the centerpiece is a blonde white woman, and artfully covered by the logo of the campaign is the token fat white chick. Where is the justice in the world when companies exacerbate such stereotypes to make money? It hits me right in the feels when I make myself aware of it.

Perhaps I am overthinking this. I do realize my tone of voice in this piece is a bit facetious. Curse of a writer, I suppose. To whip my acid tongue against the subtle inequalities I perceive in the world.

I don’t have an answer, other than education about identities and embracing the other that appears in our bubble.

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