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My cultural identity is not your guessing game...

Something I've never understood is the need for people to try and guess my race or ethnicity. When I look in the mirror, I see myself as a Chicana, a young woman of Mexican-American descent. Even so, I've had my Latina heritage questioned and my identity scrutinized, sometimes by total strangers.

This is something that has made me very uncomfortable because I understand that you can't tell what culture, race, or ethnicity a person belongs to based on looks alone. Yet, people still do it. It's so annoying! When someone tries to erase my cultural identity based on my appearance, it makes me feel like they're stereotyping my culture and feeding into what a Latina or Chicana is supposed to look like. This criteria is often set according to what society says we should look like. I've been asked by a total stranger if I'm Asian and told I looked like a "proud Indian woman" by a girl I had just met. When I tell people that I'm a Latina,Chicana specifically, sometimes they ask, "What else?" 

Even when people identify me as a Latina, they often attach their own definition of what that means. They attach stereotypes and make assumptions without giving me the opportunity to define myself and my identity on my terms.

I know some people don't mean it offensively and are just curious, but I'd rather my identity not be turned into a guessing game. I would like to be treated like an individual, not an assemblage of visible features to assign to a corresponding race or culture. 

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