No, you are not forgiven.
When you dress up as a “taco” for Halloween, you are not forgiven. When you frantically call your few friends of color to “apologize,” you are not forgiven, because that “apology” is no more of an apology than your “taco” is a taco. You are not forgiven because the only “sorry” you feel is for yourself. You’re sorry that you were arrogant enough to post your “taco” on Instagram, and you’re sorry now that the administration is on your tail because it couldn’t protect your culturally appropriative stab at Mexican culture. You are not, however, sorry for impersonating what, in your white house, makes Mexican a joke, and you are not sorry that you called that joke a “taco.”
You are not funny. When you dress up as a “taco” for Halloween, you are not funny. You are basic, you are ignorant, but most of all, you are not funny. In fact, you are so categorically unfunny that I completely missed the joke. What was it? Human “tacos” wear false mustaches and floppy sombreros and howl “#ARRIBA”? Damn, I must’ve missed that one hilarious episode of the hilarious sitcom sitting in your Netflix queue when Bob and his hilarious white best friends — who are all, incidentally, also hilarious and also named Bob — reduce Mexican culture to a hilarious caricature, and when you saw it you laughed and decided that you had to get in on the hilarity because you, too, are hilarious. Maybe if I’d seen that one episode, I’d get the joke.
You are not brave. When you dress up as a “taco” for Halloween, you are not brave. Because there’s no Bobs and there’s no hilarious and there is no “taco” at all. I don’t have to tell you that, of course. You know that. You knew that when you stormed into Wal-mart and grabbed those mustaches and sombreros to complement those hilarious taco suits and thought, “Yup, this’ll work. ‘TACOS!’ We’ll get away with it, too, because no one gives a shit because we are the shit.” You are not brave when you get called out months later by Marias whom you don’t see, so you thought they wouldn’t see you — but this time, they did, and you don’t listen, you don’t learn. You say you’re sorry… you didn’t do it on purpose. You didn’t know it was offensive. You didn’t mean to offend. You were just being funny. You’re sorry. Fucking spare me. You are 22 years old. You are highly “evolved” because your social values swing left, because you have a gay friend and black one, too, right? You are no stranger to racial sensitivity training. You weren’t a taco, and you knew it. You were — you are — an unforgiven, unfunny, un-brave, unoriginal, unkind “joke.”
You are not worried. When you dress up as a “taco” for Halloween, you are not worried. And you shouldn’t be. The Marias are, after all, a bunch of loud, part-time politicos who go all “#ARRIBA!” about inequality and racism and cultural appropriation and civil rights only when they’re bored. Word is you got slapped with a small dose of disciplinary probation. And raging brown and black bodies put “white supremacist” and “Jane” in the same sentence, and they wrote it in pen on our screens. But you are not worried, and you shouldn’t be, because disciplinary probation means nothing unless you do it again before you graduate. You are not worried, and you shouldn’t be, because you won’t do it again before you graduate, because “ain’t no soon-to-be UBS employee got time for suspension” three months before commencement. You are not worried, and you shouldn’t be, because you didn’t care about those brown and black bodies from the jump. You didn’t care, Jane, when you were a freshman famous for calling black athletes “Uncle Tom,” right? So you are not not worried, and you shouldn’t be, because you don’t have to hear the Marias when you lock yourself in a soundproof room built of your peers’ empty affirmations.
But I am not forgiven, either. When you dress up as a “taco” for Halloween and you are not forgiven or funny or brave or worried, I am not forgiven, either. I am not forgiven because I am not lionhearted like the Marias because I won’t lay your racism bare AT ALL TIMES because maybe I’m blessed with brown skin so light it can pass for white. I am not forgiven because, every day, I overlook. I quiet down. I sit politely because I’m afraid to stand straight by my own standards like the Marias do. I am not forgiven because I let the Marias fight alone. I am not forgiven because your name is not Jane.
I am not forgiven because, every day, I let myself forget that I’m Latina because, often, you’re good enough to treat me white.