Identity: Orgullo

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

[the one where I talk about skin color, culture, and other things that might make some folks uncomfortable]

For one of my classes we have an assignment that asked us to talk about our identity. For me, nailing down a specific identity has always been tricky. I went to a high school where the majority population was Hispanic / Latino, and had a small magnet program that tended to attract upper-middle to upper class, typically white students. Now, I am technically both, Hispanic and Latina – in that I speak Spanish as one of my first languages (I learned it and English concurrently) and have a mother and grandmother who were born and lived in Havana, Cuba. Still, I grew up in a home where both of these women consistently identified with the “Caucasian” census box, because of their ethnically Spanish-from-Spain heritage. Are they wrong? If skin color is the primary differentiation between races, then fine, they are absolutely “white;” but if it is instead based on the notion of a shared heritage and language than they are definitely “Hispanic” and “Latinas.”

Indeed, these women, especially my grandmother, may have racist tendencies in their perceptions; that is, that she views herself as “white” in relation to other Latinos, because in addition to being fair-skinned, she has achieved the American Dream, which in her mind is not attainable to “immigrants,” even though she is one herself. This is an example of the prejudice that results from racial categorization in combination with a history of oppression based on these racial categories. For either of these women to feel adequately classified on any of those forms there would have to be a way to represent their “whiteness” in addition to their Cuban heritage – which, is immensely different than that of Mexicans, Colombians (who are Hispanic, but not Latinos), or even Spaniards.

In the case of my personal identity, I find myself limited to boxes that do not highlight or adequately explain who I am and how I feel. For this to be the case, I would need a way to represent all the years of feeling like an outsider of both ethnicities: simply put, all my life, the white girls have considered me to be exclusively Latina (even though I never had a quinceaƱera, a traditional Latina right-of-passage), and the Latinas considered me to be exclusively white (even though I looked like them and spoke the same language) – so I never really felt like part of either or both.
So, Census, where is the box for that?

In trying to bridge this understanding of identification, in combination with the discussions I'm having in one of my classes about the stigmatization of the Spanish language especially in it's association with the political climate on issues of immigration, I want to publicly assert that there is no harm in being Latin@ (the new way to include both the masculine and feminine identities). Instead, we should have orgullo* in our heritage – which also goes for second and third generations. We are who we come from, and their culture and language are ours to learn and cherish and pass on to our own children. Let us be proud of our language and music and people. Let us love las raizes that brought us to where we are now.
Happily yours,


*I don't italicize Spanish words because that creates a sense of "other"ness, and the whole point of this post is to show that there is no need for such a mentality.

Back at it Again [with Some Minor Adjustments]

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

[back from my mini hiatus]

Hello sweet people of the internet! I know it's been since the end of the summer that I've developed my thoughts on this outlet called a blog, which is just not consistent enough for a ~following~ according to every source on how to maintain a blog ever.

Anywho, this semester has probably been the busiest ever, and luckily, it's been in all the best ways. As dweeby as it sounds, I actually really love all of my classes (even my Wellness requirement), even though this is probably the hardest semester so far. In this semester, I think I've talked more about honest and effective communication more than anything else, or at any other point in my life. Which has led me to think about why on earth we beat around the damn bush. If something bothers you, voice it, try to resolve it, and then move on with your life. It's a waste of time and energy to pour yourself into things that aren't bringing you joy!

Since this semester has started, I've hung out with some of my favorite people...

... been reunited with some of the most incredible people on the planet...

... had the opportunity to meet some more...


... and found out where I'll be studying abroad this fall (my dad's alma mater in Bilbao, Spain) and working this summer (Center for Student Missions, in Washington D.C.)!

Deusto, Bilbao Campus

Happily yours,