Like many white and Black Latinx people born and raised in the United States, Natalie Morales has faced the eye-rolling and ignorant comment of not being Latina enough. Morales, who is half Brazilian and half Puerto Rican, says navigating her career in TV can be challenging when people has misconceptions of how Latinos are supposed to look.
“What does it mean to be told you are ‘not Latin enough?’ I have heard it often throughout my life, but especially as I navigated my career in TV,” she wrote in an essay for Today. “An agent once told me that someone I worked for — someone who had a lot of power over my career — had told him, “We want more Morales, less Natalie.”
According to the Today Show West Coast anchor, the comment hurt her feelings and acknowledges that, like her, there are millions of white and Afro-Latinos experiencing the same type of comments. “It hurt a lot, as those comments do to so many of us who are una mezcla or a mix. We come in so many shades — of not just brown, but also white, black, tan, olive, and more,” Morales said.
“I am 100% Latina, born to a Brazilian mother and a Puerto Rican father. I spoke both Spanish and Portuguese and grew up speaking and hearing both at home and with family abroad,” she continued, adding that she has also lived in Panama, Brazil, and Spain, and remembers “many holidays and summers in Puerto Rico with my family there.”
Morales wants people to know just because she is white and doesn’t have an accent when speaking English doesn’t mean she is not Latina or Hispanic enough. “What is your definition of what a Latinx person is supposed to be? From Mexico to the Caribbean to Central and South America, the Hispanic and Latinx labels are so broad and encompass many in-betweens, but this doesn’t make us any less of a part of this community. Whether one speaks Spanish or not doesn’t even matter, as many of us were taught by our immigrant parents to assimilate and blend in culturally,” she said.
Natalie says she is proud of being part of the community, and she will continue educating people. “I am very proud of my heritage and background, and I aim to educate as often as I can. We should never live with stereotypes,” she suggests.