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The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

Underrepresentation of Small Countries

The majority of the general population is highly familiar with larger countries such as China, Mexico, India, Britain, and etc. There is nothing wrong with being from these countries, but the association of it can be.  There is nothing wrong with being from these countries. What I mean by this is the feeling of being overshadowed by these countries because of their popularity.

I am Chilean, however, when people find out that I’m Hispanic, they often assume I’m Mexican.This is a very normalized assumption , as people who are ethnically from more unknown countries get associated with larger, more recognizable countries

This is a common issue that many Asians, Africans, Europeans, and Latinos face. One Senior Angelina Arkhangelskaia, said “I’m Russian. But a lot of people tell me that I’m German; that I look German. Even based on the language, they assume that because it ‘sounds’ like German that it’s supposed to be German. But actually the languages are so different. I don’t get how people get them confused.”

And unfortunately, Arkhangelskaia  isn’t the only one who feels like this. Andrew Sadek, a junior, said, “I often get mistaken as Afghan, but I’m Egyptian. It’s kind of disappointing that a lot of people only know like 2 or 3 countries from [the Middle East].” 

Sadek continues to explain he hates when people start assuming his ethnicity. “They just like to guess. They like to play the guessing game instead of actually finding out.” 

People presume based on stereotypes of how you look or act, which is not just hurtful towards people who are from the “small” countries, but also from “big” ones. Junior Citlali Calderon Guzman says “I’ve seen TikToks of people talking about how people just assume and they feel like their sense of pride is being put down.” 

Treating someone’s ethnicity like a game can feel extremely dehumanizing. When I tell people I’m Chilean I normally ask, “do you know where it is (on the map)?” instead of having someone guess my ethnicity because so many people assume what they want to assume based on harmful stereotypes. I take advantage of the situation to educate them a little while we’re on that topic. 

However, there’s also an issue with asking; it’s not what you are asking, it’s how you ask it. According to Harvard Business School, “asking someone, ‘Where are you from?’ can seem like a very innocuous question but can quickly turn into a microaggression. The best way to word it is to just simply ask ‘what’s your ethnicity?” 

By rephrasing the question, you can be far more mindful, as you aren’t assuming that an individual is born out of the country.Even if it isn’t it can be annoying as it can be a common question heard over a person’s entire life span or since they arrived to the U.S. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this happen with teachers, however, after all teachers and students claim to be “inclusive” but then seeing their actions says otherwise. They completely take advantage of these Heritage Months to prove that “they support” and aren’t racist or ignorant because they “celebrated it” but completely disregard everyone else. 

After years of struggling with racism, people still suffer from the ignorance of people, and some people don’t care or are even proud of it. I can remember all the way back in third grade (when I first immigrated) to this day how people have said that I’m irrelevant for not being Mexican. 

Just to put this out there, I do not blame all Mexicans for that or anyone, just people who grow up thinking they’re above everyone else for simply sharing an ethnicity with a greater number of people who they’ve grown up with their entire life. Thinking you’re above people for your ethnicity is incredibly harmful and ignorant.

It can also be truly hurtful towards students who, indeed, are from the “big countries”.  

A Mexican Senior, Alandra Padilla said, “It’s just ignorance; like it’s sort of disrespectful. From the Mexican point of view it’s kind of annoying because people tend to blame Mexicans but in reality, not everyone who’s brown or speaks Spanish is Mexican, and I know it bothers other ethnicities as well because they don’t want to be put under Mexicans because it’s not their culture. It’s disrespectful because you’re misrepresenting both cultures.” 

This goes on to show how aware people are, but don’t feel like they have a place to speak up about it. While I completely understand that some people are not doing this to be racist on purpose, with negative intent, it is good to be self aware of your mistakes so you don’t keep repeating it. That is why I decided to write about this topic, to bring awareness towards this issue so people choose their words more carefully the next time around. 

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