A young Dallas woman named Jakadrien Turner, who had been missing for several months, turned up in Colombia, having been deported by ICE agents. What Americans are so “shocked” about is that this young teenaged woman is African-American and doesn’t speak Spanish. And of course Hispanics and Latinos can’t possibly look African-American. Nope. And all of them know how to speak Spanish of course. Yup.
Did you hear the sound of my eyes rolling?
While the average American may think that, before Loving v. Virginia the only race-mixing that occurred was through slave rape (another eye roll), miscegenation has occurred with few to no barriers in Latin American countries (this would include the areas now known as Louisiana and Texas as well). The average American thinks that: 1) All Latinos look alike; 2) That look is “Mexican”; and 3) All Mexicans look alike. Wrong on all accounts, but thanks for playing. Your consolation prize is continued ignorance. In Latin America, people can “look” any sort of way and yes, they are still Hispanic and/or Latino. Someone can “look”, to American eyes, like an Anglo-American or African-American or Native American and be any of the following: white, black, Indian, white-black, white-Indian, black-Indian, black-white-Indian, black-white-Indian-Asian-Middle Eastern, and every other ethnic combination you can think of. Americans like to point to Halle Berry and Tiger Woods as “future” people but that future has long since been reality in Latin American countries…yes, that means Colombia too. The Hispanic stereotypical look, while common is not predominant due to the ethnic mixture of those countries. Remember, just as not all Irish people have red hair and green eyes, or Scandinavians blond hair and blue eyes, not all Hispanics look alike! A blonde haired, blue-eyed woman, a dark haired, dark eyed, woman with Indian features and a dark skinned, haired, and eyed woman with black African features could actually be closely related by blood. This isn’t all that shocking in families that are very mixed. Phenotype and ancestry have a weak positive correlation, statistically speaking.
I’ve seen so many Facebook posts from friends who posit themselves as open-minded about race and ethnicity and many other things and rail against placing people in “confining boxes” be absolutely baffled that this girl, who ran away from home in 2010 and after being arrested on theft charges gave a false name belonging to an immigrant from Colombia, could have been mistaken as a Colombian national and were quick to place this girl in a non-Hispanic box based on her looks alone. Sure, the fact that she doesn’t speak Spanish maybe would have been a flag…however, there are plenty of Hispanic immigrants primarily raised in America, though born abroad, who do not speak the language of their parents. A variety of reasons for that, one is for better assimilation in the new country.
So yes, this is not a ridiculous situation in those terms. Of course, the nature of most immigration deportations are ridiculous in themselves: dangerous, discriminatory, and need to come to a quick end.
As you can see, I have included pictures to show the diversity of Colombia outside of Sofia Vergara, Shakira, and drug lords. It does exist. So…anyone still baffled about how Miss Turner could have been mistaken for Colombian? A scenario like this has been a personal fear of mine ever since SB 1070 in Arizona. My looks are closer to the Hispanic stereotype, especially for countries in the Caribbean and South America. Despite my American citizenship and valid US identification, a desperation to make certain deportation quotas could easily land someone like me in a country she’s never been to but damned if I don’t easily blend in with everyone else there. And yes, I speak Spanish….somewhat bad Spanish but enough to work against me in certain cases. As a result of this anti-Hispanic immigrant panic in Arizona and Texas, I had crossed both off of my list of places to visit.