“Me being biracial, me being from Canada but having success in the States, I have all these moments in my life where I'm jumping roof to roof. Black to white” -Drake. In the novel Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Peña, the main character, Danny Lopez, navigates his own problems that deal with themes of personal identity and confidence. Danny is biracial (half Mexican and half white) and he constantly admits that he feels like he isn't Mexican enough because of the way he dresses, the way he acts, and his inability to speak Spanish. He also lives with his sister and his single mom (who is white) and he doesn't know his Mexican father, which contributes to his idea of not being Mexican enough. Over the summer, Danny stays in National City with his Mexican cousins to gain a little culture and acceptance (mainly for himself) into the Latino community. He experiences problems with his surroundings at first, but he “assimilates” into the community (his cousin Sophia’s family and friends). I relate to this book because I am biracial, just like Danny. Danny’s internal conflicts with being biracial (and because of it, his lack of confidence) speaks so strongly to me because I know the same kinds of personal struggles that come with being of mixed race.
A crucial moment in the book is when Danny plays truth or dare with his friends and they ask him why he doesn't speak Spanish. This is a touchy subject for Danny since he's ashamed he never learned. Everyone around him starts talking and asking him different questions like why he goes to a private school where majority of the students are white. At this point, Danny is overcome with pressure and cannot open his mouth to say anything. I feel really bad for him in this moment because his inability to relate to his Mexican cousins and friends tears him apart inside and he can't change the way he is brought up. This is the recurring pressure Danny feels in this book concerning him coming from a mixed-race family and not being able to have confidence in his Mexican heritage. From Danny's struggle with race and identity, I understand these topics as something people embrace. No one should be ashamed of being a certain nationality and we can learn more about ourselves and who we are if we embrace our culture.
Also, the memorable scenes that stick out to me from my reading of this novel are Danny’s progression in his confidence while pitching. Danny is an amazing pitcher in front of people he's comfortable with but, when it really counts or in high-pressure moments (most notably his school tryouts for the team), he is off and his talent is unrecognizable. Uno helps Danny with his confidence by coaching him on how to not lose focus and be confident in himself. Sure enough, Danny improves when he pitches for strangers while betting for money. It was interesting to see Danny progress this way because there have been multiple times in my life when I was not confident in myself or was hesitant whether it be a sports game/meet or a test. I would definitely say that I'm not as insecure as Danny is but, I can learn from him and Uno and be confident in myself more often.
Mexican Whiteboy is a novel that tackles ideas of self identity and confidence through the main character’s internal conflicts. I relate to Danny because I am able to put myself in his situation, coming from the same background as him. What was interesting about this novel was how two of the big ideas portrayed in this story advance each other’s role in the plot and in the overall purpose of the book itself. I learned from this novel that you should be proud of being biracial and be comfortable with how you are brought up, even if it's different than what others expect you to be like. Another aspect I took away from this book is to be confident with who you are. So what do you think? Can you relate to Danny? Be sure to leave a comment on my blog if there's anything you want to share.