I am not ashamed to be Mexican anymore. Before you criticize that statement, let me open your eyes as to what my first few years of school were like.
I vividly remember being made fun of by kids when I was younger. My face, colored brown when my peers would make drawings of each other yet my skin tone was no darker than theirs. Jokes would be tossed around from student to student about me and I tried my darndest to not let it phase me, yet it affected me more than I would like to admit. There was a long period where I was ashamed of my culture; of where my ancestors immigrated from. My dad would play music in Spanish and I would cover my ears or complain until he shut it off as if I was better than what was being played. I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota but that was not “American enough” for my peers.
When I was in grade school, I remember going to visit family members in Mexico and anxiously awaiting getting to be around people that were “like me.” A day or two into us being there I remember walking into a room and seeing my mom visibly upset because comments were being made, criticizing the fact that her children were Mexican but unable to speak Spanish. It was that very moment where I felt that I was not “Mexican enough” for some of my extended family despite the fact that we shared the same bloodlines.
This leads me to the topic of conversation; being Mexican-American is pretty damn exhausting.
Anyone close to me knows my love for all things Selena Quintanilla; the movie, her music, her gorgeous locks. Although she unfortunately passed at a young age, she left a legacy. One that many Mexican-Americans look up to still to this day. There is a part in the movie 'Selena,' a tribute to the life of Selena Quintanilla, that perfectly sums up the life of a Mexican-American. A video I strongly encourage anyone reading this article to spend two minutes watching ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUZ5Yhwzz80 ).
"You have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans both at the same time. It's exhausting." This could not be more true. I have come to the realization that merely checking a box to indicate my race or ethnicity, does not define me. There is, in fact, no single tangible trait that all Hispanics possess except perhaps a common origin and language. The same can be said about Americans.
I refuse to let individuals determine my limitations as I strive to define myself and my role within this world on my own terms. Being classified as a minority, specifically a Mexican-American is something that I will forever take great pride in. Culture itself is beautiful and is an essential part of who I am today. I am proud to call myself a Latina, but I am also proud to be American.