You Sound Like a White Girl: The Case for Rejecting Assimilation by Julissa Arce
Xolo Score 4.5/5
You Sound Like a White Girl is author Julissa Arce’s journey in dismantling the lies of assimilation as a Mexican American living in the United States. Assimilation is a pillar of white supremacy culture. Julissa wants readers to know there is space to “reclaim the most essential and beautiful parts of ourselves, our history, and our culture.” Through her experiences and research, You Sound Like a White Girl validates many immigrants’ frustrations when trying to make the U.S. their home without losing integral parts of themselves.
*** SPOILERS AHEAD ***
You Sound Like a White Girl takes a deep introspective dive into the Latinx/e identity and how it holds many complexities and contradictions. Although “Latino” is the current catch-all term for a person of Latin American origin or descent, Arce points out that the word is more present in the United States. It’s easy for others to conveniently box a continent’s worth of people into one demographic point. There is some overlap in experiences as a Latinx/e living in the U.S., “like the trauma of learning to speak English.” But like all marginalized communities Latinx/e are not a monolith. A white Cuban man who leads the Miami chapter of the Proud Boys benefits from white-cis privileges in their journey of assimilation that Arce, a Brown formerly undocumented Mexican immigrant, could never afford. And their experiences are vastly different from Black Latinx/es that face anti-Blackness and invisibility from the Latinx/e community. But regardless of immigrants’ privileges, Arce makes it clear that assimilation is a tool of white supremacy that taunts the promise of security in front of immigrants desperately trying to create a new life in a country built on exploitation.
One of the main points that You Sound Like a White Girl makes is that when immigrants buy into assimilation, they inadvertently or sometimes intentionally replicate the oppressor’s behavior. “Sometimes out of ignorance, for protection, or because of the false belief that we, too, can become white, and therefore have the power, money, and privileges white people do.” Assimilation can mean survival for an immigrant with very few options. However, it can continue perpetuating the image of the “perfect immigrant” who is granted their humanity (and American identity) by playing by white supremacy’s rules.
You Sound Like a White Girl is a reminder that assimilation comes at the cost of losing integral parts of one’s identity and culture.
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