My Last Name is Cortes

My Last Name is Cortes

My last name is Cortes


No I am not Hispanic


I tell my doctor who walks in the room


Who is surprised to find a petite, tan, Asian looking girl who hasn’t
been feeling well for several days

 

My last name is Cortes

Because I am a Filipino-American


Because the Philippines was a Spanish colony for 300 years


I tell my Uber driver


Who is confused why I am not Latina

 

My last name is Cortes

I explain to my Sales mentor


It is my senior year of college and I am in the Sales program in the
business school


My Sales mentor is in awe that I speak so well


And that I don’t have an accent

My last name is Cortes

Because my parents immigrated to this country


Because my grandfather fought for the Americans and the Filipinos
during WW2


Because of my grandfather and my parents sacrifice


I am here today



My last name is Cortes


And though my parents speak English fluently


The customer service representative at the cell phone store


Turns to me, speaks to me


To communicate to my parents

 

My last name is Cortes

And when I landed my first big corporate internship in college,


I was ecstatic


My mother was also ecstatic and she sat me down for a pep talk


Because when she walked through the doors of corporate America 25 years
ago


As a young, newly immigrated Filipino-American accountant,


A co-worker told her that she didn’t know that


“Monkeys could do accounting”


She feared I might experience the same comments

 

My last name is Cortes

And in countless work meetings


I am the only woman, the only person of color, and the only person
under 30


I may not face the same explicit racist comments my mother had to deal
with


But I do know I am not the norm

My last name is Cortes


And all my life I knew I was different


I stay tan year round but my parents wanted me to stay light skinned


I grew up without Asian-American models in billboards or representing
major fashion brands


I spoke a different language at home


I have a do or die attitude and I feel like I cannot let myself or my
family fail


And I’ve tried so hard to level myself to an equal playing field in my
career and education

 

My last name is Cortes

And though I’ve faced implicit attitudes and daily micro aggressions


I have never faced explicit racism


Like my parents have

 

My last name is Cortes

And I fear that one day these implicit attitudes will
become explicit actions


Fueled by hate, discrimination, sexist, and prejudice
notions

My last name is Cortes


And though I understand people wanted major political
change in electing him,


I’m devastated that my country has chosen him


Regardless of his dangerous rhetoric


I’m devastated that a man with 0 political experience
was elected to lead this country


While I fight my way for just a seat at the table

 

My last name is Cortes

And because I am different


I know I can relate to many others


Who may share experiences of micro aggression


Who may share experiences of being a minority


Who understand the frustration of trying to get to an equal playing
field


Who have to constantly explain “where they are from”


Who may share the experience of being a woman

 

My last name is Cortes,

And whether their last names are Peterson, Kato, Changela, Umetin, or
Varkey


I know our differences will unite us


And one day my friends, my peers, my colleagues


Will be future lawyers, future executives, future doctors


My friends who are Muslim, who identify with the LGBT community,


My friends who are white, black, and brown


Will shatter the glass ceiling


Will advocate for human rights


And will create a leadership, a government


That is representative of America

We will challenge, we will unite

We will use love to trump hate


And we will be proud to claim a last name like Cortes.

6 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    November 10, 2016 / 2:16 am

    Emma-

    You give me confidence in our future. Thank you for your words and your spirit.

    -Ms. Gall

    • November 11, 2016 / 9:41 pm

      Wow thank you so much for reading the post Ms. Gall! I hope you're doing well 🙂

  2. Anonymous
    November 10, 2016 / 2:27 am

    Just beautiful. Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty, my Filipina sister! The world needs your words.
    -Leilani Raglin

    • November 11, 2016 / 9:43 pm

      Thank you so much Leilani 🙂 I appreciate your kind words!

  3. November 11, 2016 / 8:18 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. It is beautiful, and it is strong women like you who will help fight the hate that has become so loud.

    • November 11, 2016 / 9:43 pm

      Aww thank you so much Bailey! You are so sweet. Thank you for reading the post!

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