I I have grown to discover that in

I love hot dogs, but I also love tacos. I love to dance to Mexican music, but I also blast rap in my car everyday. I celebrate the 16th of September (not Cinco de Mayo, Mexico does not celebrate that day) but I also celebrate the 4th of July. At my house, Thanksgiving is a feast of turkey and tamales, and we celebrate our Christmas dinner on the 24th and heat up leftovers on the 25th. Things considered normal such as not saying “hi” to everyone you see walking down the street, or not greeting someone with a hug and kiss on the cheek here, is considered rude over there. Not agreeing with traditional rules makes you strange.As a first generation Mexican-American, I am not trying to get rid of my Mexican culture. But don’t get it twisted, I’m not trying to be white, act white, or look white either. Growing up in a Mexican household, I am constantly pressured to keep family traditions alive. But when you’re living in a foreign country, this challenge only gets harder. This idea that I have to satisfy the requirements to be considered from one place or the other, is exhausting. It’s a tug of war of who I am as a person. What I am trying to do is find a balance. I am trying to be proud of the red, white, and blue, just as much as the green, white, and red.Each of my communities have taught me to work hard, be dedicated, and strive for excellence in their own way. I have grown to discover that in order for me to succeed, I have to keep up with two different identities while making sure not to delve too deep into either. In other words, I have to be twice as perfect.By being born in the United States, I am automatically a citizen. I am an American. But according to society, I am “too” Mexican to be American. My complexion is too dark to be American. My dark, long hair and dark eyes are too Mexican to be American. I’m Mexican, therefore, I can’t be American. I didn’t learn English until I was in Kindergarten, but I picked it up relatively fast. My parents are firm believers of teaching my three younger siblings and I Spanish first. But even so, whenever I stumble on a word, don’t completely translate right, or if my fast speaking nature gets me tongue tied, I’m frowned upon. It’s like, “How dare you not speak perfect Spanish?!”Yet it’s not always just the language barrier that is a struggle. There are constant stereotypes and racial slurs being put on us everyday. No not all Mexicans are illegal. Sorry Trump, we are not all the criminals, drug dealers, and rapists that you claim us to be. Also, just because a person isn’t white, doesn’t mean they’re Mexican. Instead of trying to assimilate us to be fully “American,” (which is a false hope because America was created on different ideas and cultures), try appreciating our heritage. We might live in a new land but there’s a reason why flags from the old one wave here. It’s not political or rebellious, but more of a cultural understanding.America is a land of struggle, victory, and the journey in between. For a young Latina like me, that journey means knowing where you come from and taking control of where you are going. It means living in a melting pot of cultures, but still holding on to the traditions that were passed on by yours. As I have matured, I have realized that both of my identities are equally important and that I am who I am because of the journey I have been on as a young Mexican-American woman in the United States. While not everything has been easy, I could not imagine my life any other way.

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