On Monday, November 14th, I received a disturbing message on GroupMe. A friend of mine warned our group that there were horrible flyers circulating around campus. These flyers were found in Armstrong Commons and Dedman Life Science and they discouraged white women from dating black men. The “reasons” listed ranged from a supposed risk of STD’s (which can occur in any relationship) to an absurd claim that one’s children would have a low IQ if they were mixed-raced. The flyer also attributed documented domestic violence cases to being black, not unhealthy relationship dynamics.
As a mixed-race individual, these flyers flew in the face of my entire upbringing. The relationship of my parents, while not perfect, served as an example for how I should interact with people that are different from me. My mother is white with an Italian background and grew up in Michigan. My father has a Mexican background, but his family has been in Texas for almost two centuries. They worked as a team to give my sister and me a better life. Being able to experience a blend of cultures taught me to respect the cultures of others while treating them as individuals.
Growing up, I remember playing with other children who had families from different backgrounds on the playground and not thinking anything of it. I did not take into account the race of my friends when we were making sandcastles and playing Pokémon cards. However, I began to get the sense that I was different from my peers around junior high. That’s when the racist commentary and jokes began. I was an “exception” a “credit to my race” to my white peers; I was “not enough” and “too white” to my Latino/a peers. Some would try to guess my national origin like it was a game because of my ambiguous appearance. Others would make fun of my sister and me for appearing so different because she is white passing and I am not. Perhaps the incident that sticks out in my head the most was when I was told that the only reason I was attractive was because I did not look like how Latinas “usually look.” How is an ethnicity that is by definition multiracial supposed to look like in the first place?
When I first heard about the racist flyers, Taylor Souryachak came up with an idea to make a counter-flyer. I immediately offered to help design them. I had to stand up for everything that I had been raised to believe and my experiences. The racist and insensitive comments that I received in the past were not going to stop me from defending my family and my existence. With the help of the Women’s Interest Network board (Jessica Pires-Jancose, Julia Cantú, Nusaiba Mizan, Cheyenne Murray, and Karen Guan), we were able to distribute a counter-flyer that celebrated diversity in education and in the workplace.
I was first asked about the counter-flyer by The Daily Campus the day after Taylor and I made it and I was glad to answer any questions. However, I chose to withhold my name from the article written about the counter-flyer. Despite wanting to push back against the tide of racist incidents on campus and across the country, I was afraid. I had seen too many countless stories of alt-right white nationalist accounts online attacking those that spoke out against their hatred. In spite of this, the response to the counter-flyer was quite positive. Students were excited about them. The counter-flyers received a lot of coverage in the media as well; even The Washington Post shared tweets about the flyers.
After thinking for a while, I believed it was right to place a name on the counter-flyer. It was important for me to get over my fear of harassment. Alt-right white nationalist trolls should be given no credence. They believe in a lie of supremacy that only serves to comfort their wounded egos. Talent and love lies in every corner of the world and in every ethnicity and race. To not accept this fact is to ignore the reality of the world. I cannot be silent when there are individuals who will attack my intelligence and being simply because of the race of my parents. I cannot be quiet when my family is under attack for who they are. While my identity has been difficult to piece together at times due to the racism I have experienced over the years, I have found that my identity has led me to fight for myself and those around me. This is something I will always be thankful for and would not change for the world.
This article was written by Gaby Gonzalez. Click here to see more of Gaby’s work.