Getty Images Sport/Mike Hewitt
By Tatiana Pérez

As a kid in New York, I never really considered my off-whiteness. Though most of my closest friends were “white” — whatever that means — not once did our varying shades of pink, yellow, and brown skin factor into our friendships. My adolescence was never marred by any vile racial experience. My parents taught me not to ignore color but, rather, to spurn any judgments made with it, and I guess I must’ve thought that everyone operated the same way.

I know now that, unfortunately, most people do make race-based character judgments — that the greatest injustices grow from racism. And since I’ve learned that sad truth, I’ve known that I’m lucky.

I’ve never felt critically disadvantaged by my Hispanic-ness. I was born to hard-working, ass-kicking parents who gifted my brother and me an unduly charmed life on Fifth Avenue. They’ve paid for our elite educations since we were three years old, kept us well fed and protected, and seen to it that we’ve been able to pursue all of our little passions; they were successful despite their race, and since they arrived in the States, they’ve sweat to ensure that race won’t ever be something their kids have to overcome. And it hasn’t. And because it hasn’t, on the rare occasion that I feel attacked or crippled by reason of my race, I’m lost — utterly fazed and quite heartbroken.

You remember my experience at Oktoberfest. It was a remarkable experience — but, unfortunately, not without its regrettable moments.

On the first day of the festival, my best friend Ilena — whom you might recall from her run-in with the law at LAX — and I were enjoying our beers with some particularly gregarious German lads when a hulking security guard approached us.

“Come with me.”

At first we ignored him; he couldn’t possibly have been talking to us, after all.

“Can you hear? You and you,” he pointed at Ilena and me. “Come with me.”

I was rattled. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Did we do something wrong?”

“I’m going to ask you one more time, and this time, I don’t want any follow-up questions. Come with me.

I stood up. “Excuse me, but where I come from, this doesn’t fly. I want to know why you’re asking my friend and I to leave when we’ve done nothing wrong.”

The prick rolled his eyes, “That’s nice. Now start walking.”

I didn’t know what to do. We started walking.

Once he’d escorted us out, I turned to him, hoping he’d have the decency to illuminate the atrocity we’d committed to warrant his reproach.

“Will you please just tell us why you’re kicking us out?”

He smirked. “Because I can. Welcome to Germany.”

I hope I’m wrong; I hope he didn’t see a Hispanic girl and an Asian girl — both clad in revealing clothes — sitting with a group of blonde-haired, blue-eyed men and think, “I don’t like that. I want them out.” But I don’t think I am.

My intention is by no means to demonize or pass judgment on Germany — or more generally, Europe — as a “racist” country, or consequently, to glorify the US as any less “racist” than its neighbor. While we may be accustomed to a much more silent, covert brand of racism back home, that doesn’t make it any less destructive — if anything, the very opposite is true.

So, the next time someone argues that we’re living in a post-racial society; that we no longer need affirmative action or that they’ve experienced “reverse racism,” please tell them that you know two 20-year-old women who were thrown out of a public event because someone didn’t dig the skin they were in.

6 Responses to Campus Chronicles: Because He Can

  1. Timo Hild says:

    I looked up “Hispanic”. You mean you are persecuted in Amerika because of your Spanish ancestry? But how can somebody tell you are Spanish by looking at you? Are you persecuted because of being a brunette? Strange country…

  2. Timo Hild says:

    Out of curiosity I looked up your picture online (LinkedIn). If that is you, you look like a regular brunette. There is no way me or any other German could tell that you are some different kind of American just by looking at you.

    Now, your behavior as described by you was rude. You would not be the first young American that behaves in a rude and insensitive, or disruptive way when in Germany. The fact that you did not see anything wrong with your behavior suggests you most likely committed more misbehaviors and it simply did not occur to you. You seem incredibly arrogant with your “I am an American and in America this does not fly”. (another stereotypical American trait).
    You must understand that when traveling you represent your country. You represent the drone bombings, the wiretap of Merkel’s phone, dead kids in Pakistan and many other things that US press does not report but people on the receiving end are aware of it. Nobody is blaming you directly, but the fact that you are an American makes a tolerance threshold for your misbehavior lower than if you were a French student on vacation.

  3. Pax says:

    Good Morning, I am miss rich upper middle class 10% of Americans who goes to college and can afford to fly to Germany for Oktoberfest, all at the same time. As I was there an insolent security officer dared to speak to me. As I was teaching him some manners he dared to roll his eyes at me. This is not how puny little security officers and cops address me in America.
    Are you effin’ kidding me? Talk about privileged point of view. If I showed that kind of attitude to a bouncer or a sheriff’s deputy in a night club in America, I would be twitching on the floor, crapping myself (literally: Taser zap causes involuntary bowel movement). And that is the best case scenario.
    It would be nice to live in that version of America, where your first instinct is to talk back to a cop or a security guy, rather than stand there, crap your pants and think “don’t make any sudden moves or he will shoot you”.

  4. Veronica Copeland says:

    Yep and the two previous comments only prove without a doubt that bigotry is alive and well and not going anywhere

  5. 2bigchichis4me says:

    It’s always so much nicer at clubs without any blacks at all. The are violent and they steal. They ruin the environment wherever they are.

    • carl miller says:

      Oh yeah, last time i checked there are white folks in jail for the same crimes Chinese and blacks and latinos committed. In every race you have your percentage of bad seeds and good ones, it would be wrong of me to think every white person is as ignorant as you are, i guess you speak for your entire race, im sure all feel the same as you. Unfortunately i know good white folks, good friends, Ceo of banks, other business establishments. Apparently not all think like you. Live with the ugly face of ignorance, see it in the mirror, while i smile for being a loved person by many races, i give love and respect and it is well returned.

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