When I was little, I used to love blonde hair and blue eyes. I know, it’s really gross of me to have once fetishized certain features on different people. And now that I look back, I know it was because I was raised to think that being dark was ugly and that being white was beautiful.

In Latino culture, it is normal to think this way. We don’t really question why our preference is to admire white features in our culture, and my dad tries to tell me that it doesn’t even exist. He says in his country and my mother’s country that racism has never been an issue: a black Colombian, a white Colombian, and a native Colombian could all get along without ever bringing up race. They are all just Colombians.

But that’s not always the case. I hear how my parents talk about children with light hair and colorful eyes. To them, it’s something they have to point out. They have to comment and say, “Wow, that is a beautiful child”.

My mom is white—well, she passes for white. She has pale skin, thin lips, and straight hair. My dad is black. My dad tells us that our mother is beautiful while he calls himself ugly. Out of all of my sisters, I look the most like my dad.

When I was younger, my curls were tighter. My mom would pull my hair when she brushed it into a ponytail so that not a single curl would escape. For graduation ceremonies, school photos, and important outings she would send me to the salon to “fix my hair,” which only meant straightening it.

I didn’t see what was wrong with this until I grew up. I liked my curls—what’s wrong with them? I see that even the blonde girls curl their hair, so why must I straighten my curls? Why is it that when my hair is down naturally it’s considered messy?

Blonde hair and blue eyes weren’t the only features that could be beautiful. I found someone I love. He has black hair and black eyes, just like me. And if we ever do get married and have children of our own, their eyes will be black and their hair will be black, and maybe one or all of them will have my curly hair.

Casandra Grullon is a senior majoring in Cartooning. Her comic stories focus on the human experience and human emotions. Her stories tend to have positive themes of love and hope. Her work can be viewed at sva.ccnsite.com/casandragrullon