Identity Crisis

August 3, 2010 at 2:06 pm 1 comment

Recently, I joined a new blog group-see the new button on the right hand side-Blogs By Latinas. It’s an all Latina blogger group. Go visit. You’ll find some awesome things over there.

There’s a contest type thing going on called More than a Latina. They’re taking submissions of photos, art, poetry and short stories. They want to show that being a Latina in 2010 is just more than a mom, gram, or other stereotypical roles.

I want to enter, but here is where I get tripped up.

For as long as I can remember, the question of racial identity has been a hot topic. Certain people didn’t get it, others didn’t believe it and I got mislabled on lots of racial forms that the teachers were supposed to fill out and not ask the student what they were. I know for a fact I got marked as “white” on a lot of those forms.

I was often told “white girls don’t…” and I had to counter with “but I’m not white…”

Although my parents tried to enrich me in the Latin culture, it still was hard-here I was, living on Italian food, being called white at every turn and even having teachers correct my bubbled in “hispanic” on test forms.

Even now, when I think I’m secure in my racial identity, someone wanders in and questions it. From coworkers to census takers to even people who are supposedly family (Read: Outlaws), people feel the need to know.

I’m one of those chicas who straddle the line between cultures. On one hand, I look like I blend in with the Latinas. On the other hand, I don’t because I wasn’t raised with them all around.

Living in SoCal was interesting. People would walk right up to me and speak Spanish. Thank the good lord for 4 years of HS Spanish that I took to. I can get along pretty darn well, thankyouverymuch. I got comfortable. I blended. No one asked me what I was-unless it was “so, you Mexican or what?”

It was a different set of identity questions. Ones of pride and sameness. Ones I never really minded. Ones that caused more laughs than confusion. Doug brought a photo of me to work with him to show the ladies he worked with and one snagged me right off the bat and told him “Ooh! You’ve got a Puerto Rican there! Watch that temper on her!!” We both laughed at that one…because Doug found out about my temper early on. I got asked by my students why I didn’t find a nice Mexican man to marry. It was all about Latin pride rather than who I was or wasn’t.

Moving back here, I was in culture shock. This time, shocked in the 9 years I’d been gone, that nothing had really changed. People still wanted to question who I was racially and ethnically and I was back to almost a point of defending myself.

So, the big question remains-how can I decide what a Latina is in 2010 if I’m not even sure where I stand? How can I impart my end of the cultural background into my child when I spend so much time defending outward appearances for the two of us?

It puts things in a whirlwind.

And all of the answers aren’t easy.


Entry filed under: musings.

Now, I’m just a little bit more bionic. Things I do to entertain myself

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Amey  |  August 8, 2010 at 1:01 am

    Have you read any of Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s blogs? She’s an author who lived here for a while (i’ve had lunch with her – ooh, lala). She has some pretty strong feelings on defining “Latina” in America. She has a facebook page, too, and posts VERY regularly.

    Her blog seems more hit or miss and some rant about hollywood seems to be gone.

    Go get friendly with the google and see what you think.


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