Christopher Rivas On Being Ethnically Ambiguous
Growing up ambiguously brown in a world that only sees in black and white… As someone who is of mixed race, I cannot even begin to describe the many encounters I’ve had—some hilarious, some disrespectful, all memorable—with family, friends, and strangers that have all centered around my unidentifiable skin color. Being Dminican-Colombian means people almost always have no idea what ethnicity I am, and this creates the utmost and urgent need to categorize my racial and ethnic self.
‘Ethnically Ambiguous’ has been the hot catch-phrase in commercial and print castings for the past several years. Fancy words, but all they mean is off-white skin color, preferably with a slight almond shape to the eyes. It stems from a profit-driven ad world more desperate to avoid offending anyone than interested in including everyone. A similar trend has gotten a stranglehold on Hollywood (except only among ‘supporting players’ — not the stars driving the film.) I examine my role in this in the following story.