I have always felt proud of being a Latina. Never once was I embarrassed by my heritage.
Growing up in the projects among low-income Hispanics, African Americans, Irish, and Jewish families we really didn’t see or feel different.
We were one community.
We celebrated our color, hair (well on some days), our food, our accents, our music, our loudness, our messiness (though in my parents’ apartment we were quite orderly).
As I grew up and became more exposed to the world outside of my projects, I began to realize there was a difference. The “others” did see us differently. We were exotic, too loud, too dark, our hair frizzed and our food was fried.
I began to experience the indifference of others. I quickly noticed how they spoke to me or down to me. Even with a college education and much life experience…
I was simply different.
As my circle began to expand, and the folks in my circle started to change, I realized they treated me differently, with kit gloves, wondering why I was so expressive. I only felt safe and myself when I would go back to the neighborhood.
Once I stepped foot out of the neighborhood, I had to change…
I would have to say that it has not changed much. Latina women continue to break into circles that are unfamiliar, we continue to be described as exotic, loud, colorful, and different.
I continue to show up in these circles no matter how uncomfortable I may feel. I continue to voice my opinion no matter how unusual it may sound and I continue to be colorful no matter how gray the circle may be.
Being latina is a gift of diversity, color, and rhythm. Our bodies are different, our worlds are colorful. Our food is fried, our friends are loud, and our world changes with every new invitation. We are like chameleons that learn to adapt to each new environment, but we never forget who we really are.
We are Latinas.
I am proud, I am loud, and I am colorful. And I love it!
Don’t succumb to the opinions of what others think you should be.
Always stay true to who you are!