I am Latina. I wasn’t always proud of that growing up. Being born and raised in Texas meant that if someone called me “Mexican”, they probably didn’t mean it as a compliment and I pushed that part of my heritage away.
It’s confusing to say what my lineage is… I am a third generation Texan, so by the time you get to my great-grandparents, there’s at least 8 people I descend from… Spain, Mexico, Native American… who knows what else. Maybe I should check out ancestry.com and see what’s up. The point is- people really like to put others in a box and sometimes for the sake of conversation- it helps.
Long story short, I call myself Latina- meaning my skin is brown and my grandmother’s first language was Spanish. Plus it sounds cool.
As I mature and aspire to “own” my heritage, I have developed a strong desire to learn about and fully embrace my culture. What has started to puzzle me is though approximately every 1 in 6 Americans is Hispanic, that is not what is represented in American culture. ?Por que? (Why?)
I don’t ask to complain or protest or anything that makes us victims- I just wanna know. I want more role models for little Latina girls because studies show- they could use a few more. To me, it’s not about being exclusive. It’s about being inclusive. It’s not about Latinos not learning English. It’s about all of us expanding ourselves to learn Spanish, or Italian, or French and all of the history and culture that comes from any language.
There must be a lot of people, Latinos, like me- that feel a little caught in the middle. I don’t speak Spanish fluently because my grandmother didn’t teach her children in an effort to assimilate and protect them from the discrimination she endured as a child. So Mom had to learn in school. And I had to learn in school. And I didn’t learn it very well. It was too out of context.
Sooo… my next project is to live in Mexico for 3 months and learn the language, history and culture as much as possible. In the meantime- the attached video is some highlights from the CitySwarm Tour I took in Chicago’s Latino neighborhood, Pilsen. You gotta start somewhere, verdad? (true?)
In closing- I’d like to know… what is your heritage?