Mary Katharine Ham

Hablas Espanol?

Jessica Alba doesn’t. Is there anything wrong with that? Apparently so.

The third-generation American and actress is under fire this week from fellow Latinos for comments she made to Para Todos magazine:

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. Throughout my whole life, I've never felt connected to one particular race or heritage, nor did I feel accepted by any. If you break it down, I'm less Latina than Cameron Diaz, whose father is Cuban. But people don't call her Latina because she's blonde…

My grandfather was the only Mexican at his college, the only Hispanic person at work and the only one at the all-white country club. He tried to forget his Mexican roots, because he never wanted his kids to be made to feel different in America. He and my grandmother didn't speak Spanish to their children. Now, as a third-generation American, I feel as if I have finally cut loose.

My whole life, when I was growing up, not one race has ever accepted me, ... So I never felt connected or attached to any race specifically. 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.

She never felt connected to any race, specifically, but she always felt American. That doesn’t sounds like a bad thing, does it? And yet, it is, in the eyes of many activists.

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.”

Alba wasn’t trying to make a political statement. Instead, she sounds like she was trying to avoid speaking for an entire ethnicity and many recent immigrants when she barely speaks Spanish, and identifies as an American first. But because she didn’t reflexively take upon herself her ethnic mantle and collective responsibility, she’s bashed as a traitor to her race.


Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of HotAir.com, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

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