Becoming me: embracing my Latino roots
Growing up as someone who identified as being Latina was always a bit of a struggle for me. My grandparents came from El Salvador, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. My parents were both born and raised in New York. As for me, I’ve spent most of my life in Florida.
As someone who is a third-generation Hispanic living in this country, there have been moments throughout my life where I felt like I didn’t belong. I was too “ethnic” for some of the people of this country, and I wasn’t proud enough of my culture for some Hispanics.
Whenever it came time to take a standardized test throughout middle and high school, I always hesitated. To me, checking the box that said “Hispanic or Latino” always put me in a strange predicament.
When I was a toddler, I spoke both Spanish and English. However, when I made the move to Florida that quickly changed, and most of the Spanish I had learned was quickly discarded. I didn’t regain the language until my early teenage years. Even then, I still felt scared to speak it at times.
I found myself in this war between wanting to fit in with the children around me and wanting to stay true to myself. Being a third-generation Hispanic includes being involved in many instances where I felt removed from my culture. My household was typically American, and customs were never passed down to me. As a result, I felt as if there was a part of me that I was missing.
With the way many Latino immigrants are being treated today, it’s difficult at times to be true to yourself. As a third-generation immigrant, I feel as if I am as American as anyone else. To some Americans, I am seen as the grandchild of someone who crossed the Mexican border.
As I have now reached the age of 19, I have learned to become proud of who I am and want to learn more about where my family is from. The struggle will always continue, but I won’t allow it to change who I am anymore.
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