First, much respect to Alex Levine for writing about her feelings. It takes guts and vulnerability to express yourself and put those thoughts out into the world. This isn’t meant as a dis or anything combative towards her as a person or writer. This is just a response. Maybe that’s the best part of writing, the part that gets people to open up.
So in a post entitled “Latino friends on the gloomiest days“, Levine writes about the responses she received from her Latino friends and her “Anglo” friends when she went through a break up. Long story short, her Latino friends covered her in sabor and love while her “anglo” friends left her out in the icy nordic cold.
According to Levine, Latinos by nature manifest “genuine, transparent expression of feelings” and all other cultures should try to be more like us. (which is a statement that under other circumstances I would agree with wholeheartedly.)
Listen, a break up is horrific. I’d hug you myself if I could but let’s be real. Would I hug you because it’s intrinsic to my nurturing Latino blood or would I hug you because I’m Gabby and that’s what I do? The article is well intentioned and shows that in her life experience her Latino friends are just nicer than her white friends. But is it ok to turn a personal tragedy into a Latino versus Whitey love showdown? Being Latino cannot be the defining factor as to why we/her friends are compassionate. As if all Latinos are there waiting with a plate of pasteles, some rum and open ears waiting for you to spill all your guts to them. As if all white friends would rather be watching Friends, drinking milk and ignoring your pleas for emotional help.
To generalize people by race or ethnicity, even if it makes one ethnic group look even more awesome is kind of embarrassing. Is this where we’re going as a people? Like is this what Being Latino is? Are these the type of posts that uplift any of us? It so EASY to say “Oh well you know those unemotional whites, they just don’t get it.” And fine, sometimes that can be true I guess in specific situations, but when you’re talking about your friends, how can you make those simple generalizations? Maybe the issue isn’t in their race, maybe it’s in how you share yourself with them.
I have friends of all races and when I’ve been dead, down, ready to take my own life even, they were there for me regardless of race or ethnicity. I have no pie chart to express the ratio between levels of sympathy from one color group to another. All I know is that my friends kept me alive, the whites, the blacks, the browns and all the other ones in between.
Yes, there are huge cultural differences between us all but remember, you chose your friends. So, choose wisely and let’s not forget what happens when you make generalizations about an entire group of diverse peoples:
“The people are loving and gentle and fit to be Christians. They are docile and will make good slaves.”
– on Native Americans – Christopher Columbus, April 1493, in Foss, Undreamed Shores 1974: 18.