Taco Tits

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So there’s this lovely little segment from Fox & Friends on what was apparently National Taco Day. It’s the interaction between Fox News host Brian Kilmeade and Fox News meteorologist Maria Molina that really just makes put my hand to my forehead and reach for the smelling salts.

I’ve been the Maria Molina of this segment. My husband’s been the Maria Molina of this segment. Mr. Vulcan’s been the Maria Molina of this segment.

When I was eight years old, my family moved from Jackson Heights, Queens (in New York) to the North shore of Long Island, the North Shore sounding like everything it represents.

We moved in the last month of second grade. I was teased for days without end about my dresses from Sears, my buck teeth, and how my mom sometimes wove colorful ribbons into my hair when she braided it.

In Jackson Heights, there were plenty of girls who looked like me. But in the North Shore of Long Island, it was all Jordache and Sergio Valente jeans. No dresses – forget about anything from Sears. And breezy Farrah Fawcett hair was in, not my stiff and sometimes colorful braids.

When I wore my dresses, I wore full-length slips – the kind that you pulled over your head, and adjusted the shoulder straps. For a kid who looked like no one else in class, and crashed landed into their insular world during the last month of second grade, these slips of mine that I wore under my dresses became the focal point of the teasing.

People whispered, as you do when you’re in second grade, that I was already wearing a bra. That I already was hiding something.

One boy in particular, whose name is forever burned into my mind but will not be uttered here, was the worst with the teasing.

And he’s the one who came up with this nickname: Taco Tits.

I honestly don’t remember how he found out that I was half-Mexican. But what I do remember of myself from that time is that for all of my buck-toothness and dress slips and braids, I was a very self-assured girl. The insecurities and body shame came later on down the line. But that year, and pretty much for the rest of elementary school, I kept my head up and I meant it. Wore my otherness proudly.

But that boy? All he ever saw was my otherness.

When I see a segment like the video above, where I’m no longer in second grade, I remember that boy. The way that white boy laughed as he said the nickname in front of others, even though I’m half-white myself.

And what makes me reach for the smelling salts on a day like today is that I know that boy is not alone.

I’m now 43. I’ll be out somewhere, and a man, usually white, upon hearing that I’m half Mexican and lived for many years in Mexico, says an equivalent of Taco Tits. With his words. With his eyes. Regardless of the fact that I quickly mention that I also have a Mexican husband.

On a day like today, I wonder how we’re truly going to create truly humane, socially just and permanent immigration reform here in the U.S., when even talk about a taco gets painfully fumbled.

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