Guernica: Even through your adolescence, you felt like an outsider, both with your family and in your neighborhood. Could you talk more about these feelings and how they shaped you? Did they heighten your powers of observation? Or make it easier to drift like a spy through certain social and ethnic groups?
Oscar Hijuelos: Well, I had a kind of double whammy. I didn’t comport myself like a Latino, and I didn’t particularly look like one either.
Guernica: You mentioned that people continually commented on the lightness of your skin.
Oscar Hijuelos: Oh yes, I have very, very light skin. I didn’t fit into the general image of what a Latino was supposed to look like. I remember riding buses in the Bronx on my way back from high school, and the Irish kids on the bus would say “spic this” and “spic that.” But then when I was fourteen years old, I tried to get in touch with my Latin roots by joining an organization called ASPIRA, but I was given a frosty reception by these kids there who were pissed off at “whitey.” That’s the thing: it doesn’t take much to push you away if you’re already shell-shocked. I always liked being around Spanish-speaking folks who I already knew, but when I started to go out in the world, I saw that prejudice really is skin-deep. Of course, there are other layers, but much of it is just race and appearance.
—Oscar Hijuelos, “Recovering Cubanness“, Guernica
About This BlogRacialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable
Keanu ReevesJohn Cho newsflashes.
Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.
Comments on this blog are moderated. Please read our comment moderation policy.
Use the "for:racialicious" tag in del.icio.us to send us tips. See here for detailed instructions.
Interested in writing for us? Check out our submissions guidelines.
Follow Us on Twitter!
- ModernWizard on Casting Call: Lucy, the Mutant Human/Angel Hybrid Who Speaks with an Asian Accent (But is not Asian)
- Lisa on Open Thread: Kanye West and Yeezus
- Elizabeth MB Downs on Casting Call: Lucy, the Mutant Human/Angel Hybrid Who Speaks with an Asian Accent (But is not Asian)
- J. Lee on Casting Call: Lucy, the Mutant Human/Angel Hybrid Who Speaks with an Asian Accent (But is not Asian)
- leelah on Open Thread: Kanye West and Yeezus
- On That Serena Williams/Steubenville Comment
- Barack Obama as our first Asian American President?: Part I
- It’s Time to Recognize All Dads on Father’s Day
- Casting Call: Lucy, the Mutant Human/Angel Hybrid Who Speaks with an Asian Accent (But is not Asian)
- Quoted: The problem with “Devious Maids” goes far beyond Hollywood
- Open Thread: Kanye West and Yeezus
- True Blood Recap 6.1: “Who Are You, Really?”
- Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Jose Antonio Vargas’ Documented
TagsABC activism advertising african-american asian asian-american barack obama black blackface celebrities comedy culture diversity fashion feminism film gender glbt HBO hip hop hispanic history hollywood identity international interracial relationships latino media mixed race movies music muslim politics race racial stereotypes racism religion sex sexism sexual stereotypes stereotypes tv Uncategorized white youtube