Eric Quesada identifies as Mexican-American, but convincing people of that can be tough.
He was born in East San Jose but grew up in Saratoga. He works in construction but is related to a founder of the tech company AMD. Eric says whites often struggle to view him as Mexican. Because he is tall and articulate, he suspects that leads people to believe he's Italian or Greek or Arab. And some Mexicans make him feel like he's not as Mexican as they are because of his privileged background and his less-than-fluent, California-style Spanish.
"We have nice homes and nice things and nice clothes," Quesada says. "And I'm constantly asked what I am. Because I'm 6-foot-4, nobody thinks I'm Mexican."
Still, his heritage can make for some uncomfortable moments, including recently at a bar in Los Gatos. He went there after work, in his jeans and work boots, and cleared a table to share with his girlfriend.
"A guy started to sit at the table I was clearing. And he clearly thought I worked there and was clearing the table for him," says Quesada. "And I had to look at him and say, you know, 'Excuse me, I want to sit here.' And he just looked very surprised, very shocked, that I was gonna sit there."