La puraleza no existe

We were invited to a friend’s apartment for a photoshoot.

“Cool,” we said. “What’s the subject?”

“Interracial couples,” she said.

Hang on. Charlotte and me? An interracial couple? Not only are we both white, but we both have roots in Eastern Europe. In fact, when we got married, we jokingly considered running a DNA check just to make sure we didn’t share a great-great-great-great-grandparent. But in Mexico, things are different. Everyone is much more mixed. And of course, the mixtures come from a combination of Spanish and any number of hundreds of indigenous Mesoamerican peoples who all spoke different languages and would each consider themselves a unique ethnicity. In the United States, ethnicity is more tied to “the place you came from” (with the exception of black Americans). Of course, all of these ways of measuring one’s ethnicity are vague and inaccurate. We may come from one place, but we may not even look it, we may come from two or three places, we may have been born in Mexico or the USA though we identify with a place we never lived, we are actually all much more alike than our skin color betrays.

In that light, a Mexican took a glance at myself and Charlotte, and concluded that we are a mixed-race couple: I Scandinavian, and she Jewish. Both “Scandinavian” and “Jewish” are incredibly imprecise. I felt a little “Othered.” But we gerrymander ourselves into racial categories on a daily basis, it just so happens that white men in the West aren’t as subject to it as everyone else. I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Nonetheless, it was a pleasure to participate in this photoshoot where half a dozen couples got together in a room, half of them Mexican, and not one person looked like anyone else. Side by side in a photograph, it becomes even clearer.

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-V

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