Written By Jasmin Flores
An American Latina is defined as a woman who grew up with American advantages and identifies with her Hispanic roots. However, this is not the only case. With the changing of times come the altering of “labels” and terms. A Latina can be anyone or anything nowadays. Fifty-years ago when my grandmothers were youths, a Latina’s dreams were expected to be to get married and have children. That’s it. Not of getting a college education or traveling and experiencing different things. This mindset didn’t end fifty-years ago, and this continued on and on until my generation came along and people realized that this design was flawed.
Many Latinas are now realizing that there is more to life than being homemakers and mothers. Sociologists attribute this newfound interest to schools pushing kids that belong to minority groups to go to college. However, I disagree. I think the words of our grandmothers and mothers are what push us to realize our potential. Learning from their hardships, heartache, and life lessons, we become aware that we carry the weight of their dreams on our shoulders. Therefore, we must do what we can to make them proud of us.
We are at the fork in the road that these women were once not given the opportunity to face. They were scuttled along the path of homemaker and mother. Now, we have choices. Do we want the take the road paved with the bricks of education, of success, of a future? Or do we want to take the dusty old road that many women were forced to travel?
Because of women like Dolores Huerta and Sonia Sotomayor, that golden brick road has become easy and accessible for the younger generations to travel on. We embrace “white America,” in a way that was not seen before. In fact, many and most Latinas, including myself, identify with white America more than our Hispanic roots. For example, I do not speak Spanish. I never learned how to speak it fluently. I can understand when my grandma yells at me “cierra la puerta” or “dame la bolsa,” because I’ve lived with her the majority of my life and I know her quirks. However, when I am with my mom or anyone else for that matter, we only speak English. There is a barrier between me and my Hispanic roots.
There are so many misconceptions people have of Mexican and Hispanic culture. Just like the changing of fads, people and ethnic groups change as well. We don’t ride stage coaches anymore, we drive cars. We don’t speak Spanish, but we’re still Mexican. One of my favorite quotes that describes what it’s like to be a modern Latina comes from the movie Selena:“You have to be more Mexican that the Mexicans and you have to be more American than the Americans, both at the same time! It’s exhausting!” I don’t think you can get more accurate than that.
We are in a purgatory stage where we don’t belong on one side more than the other. We are directly in the middle. I’ve been too white-washed to be a Mexican and I am too dark to be an American. I like Starbucks but I also like watching 12 Corazones. We tread a fine line, and, if we lean too far to one side, the other will call us a traitor. It really is hard to be a Latina, but it is unlike anything else in the world.
We as women are naturally strong, but to be a Latina woman is to be as strong as Atlas. We are lovers, we love our family, we love the people we meet, and we love ourselves. We are givers, we give our compassion, we give advice, and we give ourselves. We are role models, we inspire the younger generations, we inspire our peers, and we inspire ourselves. We are Latinas, we are Hispanic, we are American, we are women. I’d like to conclude with a mini poem that I wrote.
I am a puzzle
Hecho en Mexico
I am a riddle
Made in America