Ask before assuming about someone’s ethnicity

Illustration by Darian Maroney

I can’t count the number of times that people have assumed that I’m Mexican.

Whether it’s because of the color of my skin or my accent, it’s always been assumed that I’m Mexican, as if Mexico were the only country in the world with Spanish-speaking or brown-skinned people.

When it is revealed that I’m not Mexican, people always react shocked and proceed to say, “Really? Then what are you?”

I find this incredibly insulting.

Just because I look the part doesn’t mean I am.

Many people don’t stop to think that there are other backgrounds other than Mexican that people identify with.

Yes, it’s hard to know them all so just refer to us as Latino or Hispanic, which is more politically correct than Mexican.

Or better yet, ask us. There is no harm in asking.

Assuming that everyone who speaks Spanish or has a Spanish accent is Mexican completely ignores the fact that other Spanish-speaking countries exist and matter.


However, I don’t blame those uneducated individuals.

I’d like to believe that they really just don’t know about other Spanish-speaking countries.

This might not be the case with everyone, but as someone who is half Salvadoran and half Guatemalan it’s like getting punched in the face when people mistakenly refer to me as Mexican.

It’s not that I have anything against them, don’t get me wrong. It just gets tiring having to tell people that I’m not Mexican.

I recall a moment when someone told me that they thought El Salvador and Guatemala were a part of Mexico and I was so appalled. I just couldn’t believe that they didn’t know they were all different countries.


I realized that people aren’t educated on things like this and I find it worrisome. Especially when I hear people say things like “do you speak Mexican?”

I can’t even.

Keep in mind that there are other countries besides Mexico. That there is more than one ethnicity, nationality, culture. Just because we speak Spanish doesn’t automatically mean we’re Mexican.

So like I said before, instead of assuming what we are just ask us first. I’d rather be asked what I am than be told that I’m Mexican.

Daisy Dardon can be reached at [email protected] or @daisydardon on Twitter.