Can You Really Be a 'White Woman of Color'?

Ana Cecilia Alvarez (Dan Zhang Photography via
Ana Cecilia Alvarez (Dan Zhang Photography via

At Clutch magazine, Britni Danielle challenges cultural appropriation in a piece about a woman who grew up white in Mexico but was seen as a woman of color when she moved to the U.S. But "being white excludes her from being a woman of color. Period," she writes.

I recently stumbled across an interesting essay by Ana Cecilia Alvarez about being a “White Woman of Color” that once again highlighted the complexities (and complete arbitrary and socially constructed) issue of race.

Although the two identities seem at opposite ends of the racial spectrum, Alvarez’s experience — growing up White in Mexico, but later being seen as a “woman of color” on the basis of her nationality and language once she immigrated to the U.S. — was both eye-opening and frustrating …

Sadly, Alvarez seems to fall victim to the notion that race = nationality. And like many (particularly Americans), she seems to have bought into the thinking that being Latino automatically makes her a minority. For instance, she says her mother is “biracial” because she was born to a Mexican (which isn’t a race) father, and Anglo-American (read: White) mother. While Alvarez gives no details about her grandfather’s actual race (is he Mestizo or a descendant of Europeans like her father?), she seems to once again be muddling the terms.

But here’s rub: being White excludes her from being a woman of color. Period. 

Read Britni Danielle's entire piece at Clutch magazine.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.


Britni Danielle is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and novelist. She has covered pop culture, politics and race for outlets such as Essence, Jet and Clutch. Follow her on Twitter

Share This Story

Get our newsletter