Epiphany at the Carnicería

(Facebook reply to KimE) Only if it matters to you. Myself, I couldn’t care less but then again I am not a southerner and just recently found out I’m a white girl so probably not your best source, lol.
September 1 at 9:45pm ·

So here’s the thing; I’m a white-girl. Just found out. Quite the shocker.

Growing up my friends, family, neighbors and schoolmates where predominately Mexican. Not that I knew that, of course. They were just Tony, Adrienne, Mary, Linda, Junior, cousin, aunt, friend.

As I grew older they became best friends and first crushes and then sisters and in-laws and nieces and nephews.

I never felt out of place or different. I didn’t realize I was different. Until recently.

My sister Vida lives in a major metropolitan city with a large Latino population. Her husband is Mexican-American.

I went to visit her recently while her husband was out of the country on business. He was due home the next night and was going to make his famous homemade fajitas. The only meat that is acceptable for Mimo’s fajitas comes from a small carnicería (Mexican meat shop) on the other side of the city.

Mimo is very protective and insisted Vida and I not go to the carnicería without his son, Cedro, along for our safety. Vida laughed, Cedro rolled his eyes and I was confused, as is often the case. None the less, to humor Mimo, Cedro, Vida, and I piled into the Four-Runner and headed to the market.

You should know that Cedro is over six foot tall; a muscular, exceptionally fit young man, just discharged from the United States Marine Corp where he served a Secret Service detail in Rome, providing protection to, among others, former First Lady Laura Bush and Condoleeza Rice. A mighty impressive personal body guard.

During the thirty minute drive I kept a staunch watch for gang signs, shoes over telephone wires, drive-bys in progress. Anything to tip me off when we were approaching the danger zone.

Nothing. Just nice little suburban neighborhoods.

Finally, we arrive at the carnicería.

No homeless people on the sidewalk, no drunks sleeping in the doorway. Just everyday people getting the shopping done.
Cedro requested the marinated flank steak in his born-and-raised-in-Texas Spanish while I wandered about the store, smiling at the items I hadn’t seen since I was a kid living in southern Cali. The giant pink cookies I used to pick up on the way to school, pinatas hanging from the ceiling, (what was once the domain of small farm animals and cookie cutter shapes has apparently been taken over by the likes of Hannah Montana and Dora The Explorer), Orange Crush in the bottle. Starfruit. Lowrider magazine.

I felt completely at home.

We loaded up our cart, paid for our items and, as we crossed the tarmac to our vehicle, I commented to Cedro, “I don’t get it. Nothing seemed dangerous about it to me.” “It wasn’t,” he replied, “Dad just worries too much.” I nodded and reached for the handle of the car door. “Of course,” he added casually, “you two were the only white-girls in there.”

I was stunned. I stood there, mouth open, eyes staring, my hand frozen on the door handle. Complete and total braincramp. After about a minute I lifted the door handle and slid into the back sheet.

Do not misunderstand. I am not one of those deluded white folk who think they are Mexican, (or Black or Asian or Samoan for that matter). I know I’m white. Hell, I’m a hockey fan for crying out loud. A hockey fan who owns not one but two Barry Manilow’s Greatest Hits albums. How can I NOT be white?

That was not the shocking part. The shocking part, the part that left me speechless for the entire ride home and sent my mind reeling, wasn’t that I was white. It was that I was different.


I cannot think of even one moment in my life when I thought of my friends and family who were Hispanic as being different. And, until now, it never occurred to me that they might see me that way.

I’m still not fully recovered.

~ by D.L. Graves on September 7, 2009.

2 Responses to “Epiphany at the Carnicería”

  1. Amazing…even family see us differently. makes you realy wonder? if that was said out loud, what is realy in their minds. Think about it…that had to be said out of best intentions, but that was incredibly odd. Actually family will keep so much to their chest until one day something slips, and when that day comes, rest assured that you are there to hear the truth. I live in a predominatly mexican state…I'm a White gurl, and I have been to some scary stores and places in my state…and guess what? no one bothers you! Were all human, white, red, green, black and yellow…Humans!

  2. I couldn't agree more.

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