Miami is one of the few cities in the United States where I am not considered a minority. Nearly everyone here is Latino-American or Hispanic-American. There’s a big community of Haitian-Americans, Chinese-Americans, and Arab-Americans on this little corner of the Florida peninsula. People from all over the world live in this city and I can honestly say that I have never once experienced overt racism or racial profiling here. I didn’t even know about ethnic slurs and insults toward latinos until I was in my late teens.
Now, I can’t tell if the incidents of racism that have been increasingly reported on the news speaks of a malignant majority or a vocal minority in the United States (I hope it is the latter), but it is concerning either way. In 2011, I traveled to Paris, Virginia on an animal rights trip. We stayed in a small town that had a confederate cemetery and mostly old people. On our third day there, me and some animal rights activists (sorry for breaking a grammar rule but that’s how I wanted to write it😂 ) were racially profiled– the first time ever for me. We were greeted at 9 in morning by two cops asking us why we were there, if we had any identification on us, and what our social security numbers were. It was a bizarre and uncomfortable experience to be made felt an outsider inside a country I was born in and my parents immigrated legally into, especially since we had done nothing but help animals since we got there.
Surprisingly, I’d never thought about my skin color until that year (and I wasn’t aware that many people view hispanics as a race, not an ethnicity). Sure, I’d thought about racism and xenophobia, but I’d never thought about how I fit into that narrative, and I was naïve in the sense that, until I experienced it myself, I thought about it as a thing of the past. It is an incredible privilege to exist as the majority in any place (unless you lived in the South Africa Apartheid), and that is the bubble I’d lived in my entire life in Miami, as a part of the majority. Here, I can speak Spanish without worrying about comments like “learn English (English and Spanish are my first languages)” or “go back to Mexico (I’m not Mexican).” Here, I’m not subject to racial profiling or racial slurs because I am part of the dominant “race.” Traveling to a place where (for the first time) I was a minority was an eyeopening experience and if it’s something you’ve never done, I think it’s an important experience that you should give yourself.
Have you ever experienced being a minority (maybe you’ve been a part of the minority your entire life)? What was it like? Was your experience negative or positive? I’d like to hear your stories!