Minority? Me? Really?

This year I was lucky enough to attend Railsconf. Even though I’ve been a Rails developer for the last 6 years I never attended one. It was an enlightening and interesting experience but I’d like to write about a situation that took me aback.

I knew some guys from Uruguay and Argentina and we were ready to go to dinner with a few others. We all spoke Spanish except from one guy from the US. He is very renowned and smart but he said something that was just off.

“Please keep speaking in Spanish, I am a white American guy, I’ve never been the minority before” (I am paraphrasing but he used the word minority).

That would mean that the rest of the time I spend in the US I am the minority.

I started thinking about the times throughout the years when I’ve had to fill out forms that ask: “Check here if you are latino”, “What is your race?”, “Question about Hispanic Origin,” and how I never knew what to say.

I was born in Argentina (Southern South America) but to be honest I don’t really feel latino. I don’t watch Univision or eat any more tacos than my neighbor. I don’t sleep siestas every day or celebrate cinco de Mayo. That’s what I think that he (and a lot of other people) think about latinos and hence me but I couldn’t fit that stereotype any less.

It’s not only that I don’t feel latino, but I don’t feel like I am part of a minority. I speak with a bit of an accent but it’s not only a direct consequence of switching from the switch from Spanish to English. Some people don’t understand when I speak Spanish either. And who doesn’t have some accent for crying out loud?

I am a white-ish guy under 30 years old with a pretty successful professional career, a lovely wife with a great home in an awesome city. If I am being discriminated against for being part of a minority please keep at it. But I doubt it has anything to with race or ethnicity. It comes down to the fact that I have worked my ass off since before I went to college, and worked both in academia and private businesses to reach where I am. So shut the hell up. Minorities are just bloody boxes to put people in. I am a jew latino geek, kind of fat, with disposable income, who likes cars, loves his family and is an apple fan. There you go lots and lots of boxes for you to put me in.

In any case, my point is this: in this day and age thinking about minorities is just wrong. Who cares what the color of your skin is, how deep your accent is or where your family comes from? Everything changes so quickly these days that minority segmentation is just irrelevant.


  • Ryan Leavengood

    Just noticed this from a LinkedIn email. For what it’s worth, I agree :)