Dear White People in My MFA Program,
Over the last semester, I may have said some inflammatory statements that made you uncomfortable. Inflammatory statements about race — I know, I know, who talks about race in a creative writing MFA program? How gauche. I realize that this was not a good or cool thing to do, that your safe writing space was interrupted by an uppity Latino with a big mouth. So let me apologize for all of the statements that I made:
- I’m sorry for saying that the one Latin@ character you wrote in workshop was both clichéd and racist. I see now that if you write a maid character, OF COURSE she would need to be Mexican. Have you ever seen a non-Mexican maid? Ha! The concept doesn’t even make sense! And if you have a Mexican maid, she should OBVIOUSLY speak broken English. How else would the reader know that this maid character was Mexican — a trait that impacted the story at every turn and wasn’t just because she was a maid. And you’re right, white people in my MFA program, to tell me that it wasn’t really offensive. You would know, after all. And I should be happy that there was Latin@ representation in fiction in the first place.
- You were right to say that because I don’t have an accent I’m not really Latino, just tan. I was simply holding on to family pictures and stories and accented aunts and grandmothers and the way my cheekbones sit and my preference for salty, garlic-y food and my last name and family trees and you know, that sort of stuff. In fact, I am honored, HONORED, that you’d bestow the title of “White” upon me. It’s really what I’ve wanted for my whole life!
- Mea culpa! Thank you, THANK YOU, for explaining to me that White Privilege isn’t a thing. I now realize that white people have just as many problems as people of color. Just as many and basically the same kind. We’re all just Jay-Z with our 99 problems (Don’t worry! I won’t finish the line because we are all united in our fight against misogyny — a fight that has absolutely nothing to do with race). I mean, if there was such a thing as white privilege, would we have so many people of color in our program? (We have two. Which is a lot when you think about it. I mean, our program only has, like, 65 people in it.)
- Lo siento por calling you “Cracker ass honkey gringo motherfuckers” and suggesting that we stop accepting white people into the program until we have a higher representation of people of color. I was hungry when I said those things. And I took some time and thought about your point that I was being “reverse racist” and decided that you are correct in that, too. Oh, and sorry for calling the phrase reverse racism “stupid whitey bullshit that doesn’t exist.” Again, I was really hungry.
- You opened my eyes when you asked how I could call myself Latino when you, a white person, speaks more Spanish than I do. You are actually way more Latin@ than I am! I’ll tell my grandmother you’ll be taking my place at Thanksgiving this year. She’ll be so thrilled to have a fluent Spanish speaker that she’ll forget all about me. Play your cards right and maybe you’ll get invited to the Christmas photos!
- Finally, I’m sorry for bringing up race at all. I was just playing the race card. I was being overly sensitive. I am too pale to really be speaking for other Latin@s. Why derail our conversations about bell hooks with talk about being one of the only people of color in the room? I was drunk/hungry/tired/cranky/trying something new/playing devil’s advocate/just messing with you.