The key to the club door is not available to you.
You’ll never earn a participant’s jacket or learn a double secret handshake. No matter how hard you try, membership in the club is completely forbidden, and it is annoying, confusing and even dangerous. But read Julius Ars ’new book“ You Sound Like A White Girl ”and maybe this club isn’t worth joining.
The first eleven years of her life Julius Arce was a Mexican woman who lived in Mexico. She was not ethnically different from any of her neighbors; in fact: “Eating food, speaking a language, dancing to music – it was all like breathing air.”
And then everything changed. Her parents moved their family across the border to America, and they sacrificed to provide better opportunities for their children, but along with those opportunities came a struggle. Arce worked all the time to fit in, she cut her long hair and practiced until she could speak English almost flawlessly, but even the slightest mistake reflected her in the eyes of her white classmates.
She was never going to be white. So why try?
For centuries, she says, white people have told Latinos and blacks that if they work hard, that “anything is possible,” and they’ve said that while they’ve made it impossible for those with darker skin to make their way forward. As a result, colored people abandoned their culture and language in hopes of assimilation or at least acceptance. They stopped speaking their native language, and white schools proudly taught her “bilingual … programs.” The most unpleasant thing is that the system has led to the widespread advantage of lighter skin, and not only in the United States: a similar advantage “penetrates” into the lives of Mexicans, says Arce.
The solution, she believes, is to stop assimilation attempts, period.
“There is so much power in the uniqueness of our names, our food, our heritage,” she says. “Only if we refuse to change and instead acknowledge the beauty that has been passed on to us will we truly find acceptance within ourselves.”
If you’re approaching “You Sound Like a White Girl” and getting ready to dive in, don’t forget to leave your assumptions at the door. Author Julius Arce will make you explore everything you have ever thought about your natal culture, regardless of your background.
And she does so with angry eloquence that makes you wonder why anyone would want to work so hard to fit in. Through her personal stories, stories and research, she lets readers know that they are not alone in their assimilation efforts, that their frustration is not unique, and that there are enough reasons to quit. It comes with a lot of pride, not just a few surprises.
Although in this book it may seem that the sign “White is not allowed” may be hidden on the cover, nothing could be further from the truth. To make our society better, enabling everyone of any race to read “You Sound Like a White Girl” is very important.