Rachel Dolezal and me

I know first-hand what it’s like to embellish your ancestry. I did it myself with a box of hair dye. Don’t get me wrong: I’m no Rachel Dolezal, the Spokane  Puerto Rican Flag2civil rights activist who says she’s black but might be white. I really am of Puerto Rican ancestry, no DNA tests needed, and I have the family and the family name on my birth certificate to prove it.

What I don’t have are the predominant physical features associated with Puerto Ricans. The only part of me resembling J Lo is the hips. And this, for a while, caused me great worry about fitting in by fitting the vision of what a Puerto Rican should look like.

Now I like to say that God makes some cookies pop out of the oven lighter than the others. But at the time I wanted to join Hispanic professional organizations, I also wanted to hide my light skin and light hair.

I didn’t grow up around Latinos in the Detroit suburbs. As a child, I had no concept of the visual stereotype. My relatives, light or dark, were all More

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