by Kate Pashby


by Kate Pashby

as a child, I was chronically not enough

not white enough to look related to

my blonde-haired and blue-eyed cousins

not Filipinx enough to fit in at

my Southeast Asian grade school

and not Mexican enough to speak a lick of Spanish

a third-generation Mexican American

whose mother never learned Spanish

because that’s what my grandparents

spoke when they didn’t want

their daughters to understand

as a child, my strongest connection to my Mexican heritage

was my American girl doll Josefina

the dark-skinned girl from 19th-century Santa Fé

my grandparents who raised me for two years

must have spoken Spanish with me

(according to language acquisition theory)

because I can mostly roll my Rs

but my mother seldom cooked Mexican food

because it was “too unhealthy”

and she rarely took us to the panadería

to buy “Mexican bread” because it too was unhealthy

cholas in hoop earrings and red lipstick were “ghetto”

while taquerías and taco trucks were “dirty”

in high school, as an aspiring ballerina,

I gave my mother an ultimatum:

let me take French classes

or give me a quinceañera

I was made to take Spanish and

I received no quinceañera

in high school, as a teenage prodigy

and professional slacker I earned the

Hispanic Achievement Award

along with the two “white Mexicans”

in my overachieving senior class

I was so incensed at being labelled good for a Mexican

that I faked period cramps

and laid on the rickety cot in the nurse’s office

for the duration of the award ceremony

after college, upon receiving my bachelor’s degree cum laude

I was rewarded after the graduation ceremony

by being mistaken for the valedictorian

(a Southeast Asian woman I had never met)

because all brown people look the same