She Even Says Hot Things

Predictably, Jessica Alba is under fire for saying she doesn’t consider herself a latina:

Alba is my last name and I’m proud of that. But that’s it. My grandparents were born in California, the same as my parents, and though I may be proud of my last name, I’m American…I had a very American upbringing, I feel American, and I don’t speak Spanish. So, to say that I’m a Latin actress, OK, but it’s not fitting; it would be insincere.

I fail to see what’s wrong with that. Personally, I’m darned proud of my heritage. But I had a very American upbringing. I consider myself at least as much American as I am Indian, but if one day I’m famous enough to be in countless news articles and press releases, I hope they don’t preface my name with ‘Indian’ like they seem to do all too often with her. But it sounds like she wasn’t raised in hispanic culture, as I was raised Indian. So why should she identify as a latina?

As Mary Katherine Ham detailed:

One blog post on the comments remarks, “Guess sell-outs come in all races and sizes.” Another calls it a “disturbing hoard of quotes.” Another claims she “hates Mexicans.”

Comments about Alba’s comments include, “F**K YOU THEN, JESSICA…VIVA LA RAZA!!!,” “She should just change her last name to White, then,” and “I thought she could be a good role model for Latinas, but she is a fake, tryin’ to be white.”

Personally I would’ve called her a sellout if, given her generic American upbringing and lack of facility in Spanish, she insisted on calling herself latina. She would’ve been fake if she wore the latina badge with pride, given that as she says herself it says nothing about her but her genetic origins…

But maybe I’m just crazy.

I’ve said since high school that the bigger deal you make about race, the bigger deal it becomes. It doesn’t matter if its white people making a big deal about black people or if its hispanics making a big deal about themselves. Either way, you make race a larger part of your external identity than it need be.

What this whole ruckus demonstrates is the continued and distressing trend of American minorities to define themselves in terms of their skin color and distant geographic origin. And more importantly to see people of other ethnicities as outsiders.

It seems obvious that you can’t create a colorblind society if you keep making a big deal about your own color, but I probably lack the ‘nuance’ and ‘erudition’ that allow progressives to see things otherwise.

Ms. Alba, if you’re reading this I want you to know that when I look at you I don’t see a Latina. I just see a really hot chick.

  • Adam

    Nick, thanks for finally saying what I’ve thought for a long time. The longer people keep stressing about race and taking “pride” in your heritage, the longer we’ll keep hearing unjustified “racist!” accusations of people who aren’t racists or point out statistically obvious conclusions (like how most illegal immigrants are Mexican…afterall, Mexico is our direct neighbor). The double standard has got to go…when was the last time you heard a minority get called racist for calling a white man “cracker?” Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

  • VRB

    Cracker isn’t the same as the n-word and if you live in Georgia you will hear it from a lot of white people.

    White people also coined the phrase “white trash” not black people.

    Once any black person say black or Afro-American or colored or Negro: anything else he says that doesn’t agree with the blogger or whomever; the black gets called racist. I think whites play the race card much more often than blacks. In the real world it is very hard to deal with continuous slights and not wonder if it is racism. I don’t mean not being PC.
    When the racist words disappear, code words appear in the white mythology of race.

  • Doug Mataconis

    Another reason to, umm, like Ms. Alba.

  • tarran

    VRB, I’m having trouble parsing your second-to-last paragraph. Could you help me out?

    I think you are saying:

    Once any black person [says] “black” or “Afro-American” or “colored” or “Negro”[, then should he say] anything else that doesn’t agree with [a white person,] he will be called a racist [by the white person]. I think whites play the race card much more often than blacks. In the real world it is very hard to deal with continuous slights and not wonder if it is racism. [By slights] I don’t mean not being PC.

    Is this correct?

    If it is, I have to disagree with you. In my experience, I far more often hear the charge of racism leveled against whites than against blacks for identical provocations. In fact, my experiences correlate with this story.

    Of course, this is not to deny that there are racists out there who are white. It’s just that I run into white racists far less often than I run into black racists. Of course, the most racist people I have encountered have been Japanese – but that is a rant for another day.

    What is galling to me is that I or people I know have on several occasions been accused of racism. In every case the charge was wholly unjustified, and pursued by someone who was confusing the beam in their own eye for a splinter in the eye of another.

    Every unjustified accusation does have the terrible side effect of making legitimate accusations seem less credible, so they should be frowned upon.

    With that being said, I think Jessica Alba’s point is valid. After all, I was born in Turkey. I have a Turkish name. Yet, anybody from the old country who knows me would agree that culturally I am not a Turk. If she doesn’t consider herself hispanic, then that’s fine. Personally all these artificial groupings are ridiculous.

    Incidentally, I find your last paragraph, which I believe implies that white people are inherently racist to be quite offensive and incorrect.

  • Nick

    I just continue to wonder why all these racist white people hate me less than blacks and mexicans. At least they share religion in common with the latter two.

    Do I smell different from other brown people? Maybe at birth they put a UV tattoo on the forehead of all non-hispanic/non-black brown people, and all white racists wear special UV contact lenses so they can tell the difference?

    Whatever it is, while I’ve encountered plenty of racism in my time, its mostly been an annoyance and rarely if ever been a hinderance.

  • trumpetbob15


    The other issue to consider is the fact that a white racist, such as David Duke, is instantly labeled a racist and treated as one by everyone else. However, take a member of La Raza, a racist Latino group, and they are legitimate. How are this Latino supremecy group any different than a white supremecy group? There are racists in all groups; just not all racists are treated equally.

  • js290

    Latina or not, I’d still hit it…

  • Brad Warbiany

    Yeah, I consider myself far more American than Polish/German/Hungarian/Austrian/Ukrainian… At least, I think that’s all I am… We’re a bit confused on whether it’s Austrian, Ukrainian, or both…

    But yeah, any excuse to bring up Jessica Alba is a good one…

  • trumpetbob15

    With my German-Polish ancestory (the part I know about at least), it was interesting when my family hosted a German exchange student when I was younger. There was a marked difference between my family’s and his actions. Using just that example and the Finnish student we hosted the year before, I would almost wonder if there is a difference between Europeans of today and Americans, enough so that to call me European-American would actually be misleading and nowhere near accurate.

  • Nick

    Interestingly enough, I’m one of the least westernized of any family member in my generation. And almost all of them were raised in India and still live there.

    Their Telugu is better than mine in general but my knowledge and attention to cultural/historical/philosophical/religious crap is usually much greater.

    I also act less ‘white’ for lack of a better term.

  • Aimee

    The thought of Jessica Alba being Latina never even crossed my mind.

    Kudos to her for standing up for herself and her upbringing.

    Let “Jenny from the block” be their role model if they so desperately need one.

  • VRB

    I will say to all, that the last paragraph has been my experience. I have entered discussion in which I though it was not necessary as such to mention black people, but boy, was I wrong. They are use so much as an example, almost about any subject. I am sure if I had not brought it up here, somebody would have used their knowledge of the black experience here to show an example.

    I have no problem with the way Ms. Alba feels. I don’t get on black people who want to live there lives apart. I only have problem with those blacks if they live apart and then think they have a say in something they are not involve with. I once thought that I could step in society and live without the boundaries of racism, but I have gotten tagged and beaten back and insisted that I stay in my place. Even when I tell you how my life has been and is; you still persist your perception of racism is true and mine isn’t. Every comment you make about a black person making to much about racism is trying to make that persons life a lie. What do you want us to say, “OK massa, youse right”? It also sound like you want us to get back into our place and live within your boundaries. Interesting, since these blogs are libertarian.