White is a colour too.

Technically, I’m “diluted,” if you will.  I’m a mutt, a mix, a Heinz 57.  A half-blood if you’re a Harry Potter fan.  My Father was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

His family has deep Hispanic, African, and native roots.  My mother, on the other hand, was born in Cincinnati.  My maternal grandfather is Irish, and my maternal grandmother is Czech and Hungarian. So, to say I’m diverse is a bit of an understatement.

Interestingly enough, though, I primarily identify myself as a Latina.  You will hear me refer to myself as Hispanic before you listen to me say I’m an Irish gal.  Why is that? Why would any mixed person narrowly define themselves or pick one race over another?

For me, part of it is that I look like a Latina.  I’m short and curvy, and my hair is jet-black.  I also have the temperament of a stereotypical Hispanic woman.

My maiden name is a rare Hispanic surname.  I speak Spanish like the daughter of a native Puerto Rican would.  I occasionally slip and speak “Spanglish” or pronounce words like my father used to.

Moreover, I believe that I define myself as such because we live in a society of labels.  There is not one facet of modern-day society that doesn’t require us to be labelled or defined racially.

Look at anything we do – any piece of our day-to-day life.  I donate blood, and I have to identify my race.  For jobs, medical purposes, for pretty much everything in life, we need to select our ethnic background.  Look at the census! We have to choose a race and ethnicity.

My point is this: we are told that we must identify by the colour of our skin.  One way or another, our society tells us that we cannot be just human.  Instead, we must belong to a particular class, group, or denomination of humanity.

Really? Why?  What could be the point of identifying yourself with something as superficial as the pigment of your skin?  I certainly have not gained anything by labelling myself as Hispanic.

I have no benefits in identifying myself as one race or another.  Truthfully, there is no point.  My skin could be purple, and it still wouldn’t change the fact that I am a human.

It’s frustrating that our society is so focused on the superficial.  Our “culture” tells us that assigning a status to someone based on their melanin is essential.

My assessment by others should be based solely on the person I am: who I am, how I treat people, and what I do.  Instead, we are all identified by our pigmentation, from billboards to bills in congress.

Call me Utopian (or foolishly naïve and optimistic), but I long for a day when we see people for who they are, not what they are.  I would like to simply be Lauren and leave it at that, not Lauren the Latina.

Something tells me that all people would rather be who they are, rather than what they look like or how dark their skin is.  Perhaps one day we will.  Who’s to say that one day we won’t all live simply as humans?

Anything is possible.  But for now, this is where our society is.  Until that day, when we can all simply exist as human beings, we must do our best to look beyond the labels.