Yo Quiero Taco Bell

August 4, 2012
UC Prompt: Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?

Common App: Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

“What are you?” a girl asks me.

“What do you mean?” It should be obvious. I’m a person, a living, breathing, human being. I’m a girl who likes to read and play beach volleyball. I have lived in four different places, enjoy public speaking and learned to skimboard in only one day.

“Like I’m half Italian and half Portuguese.” It’s nice to meet you half Italian and half Portuguese.

“Oh! I’m Mexican.”

“Wow… really? You don’t seem very Mexican…” I can’t blame the poor girl; she’s not the first and will not be the last to doubt my Hispanic descent. On the outside I don’t appear as your stereotypical Latin-American teenager; my skin is pale during the winter and fall, my eyes change color but have never been brown, and I have both of my eyebrows without the need to pencil them on. I can’t roll my R’s, and have a low tolerance for spicy food. I enjoy Taco Bell and my name isn’t Maria.

For these reasons I’ve been told by society that I’m not “a real Mexican,” and as a result, I believed it. I shunned my Hispanic family culture, from openly declaring that I did not like Mexican food despite my weakness for tamales and enchiladas to avoiding my own Grandmother, a first generation American from Mexico who speaks only Spanish because I was embarrassed to speak the language of the culture I wished to disown.

However, as I’ve grown older and learn to be more critical of the statements of society I’ve realized that my family’s Hispanic tradition has molded me to become more “Mexican” than my phenotype ever could have. From an early age I’ve learned that those who can endure the pain of work shall reap the rewards, from cramming for an AP test, running the last stretch of a 400m to picking strawberries in a field. I’ve also been taught that no matter what, family comes first. At Christmas time, regardless of relation, everyone becomes my Tía or Tío and I become Míja, daughter of everyone.

I’ve learned our culture’s perseverance from my father, he managed to pay his own way through medical school, becoming one of the first in his family to go to college, setting an example for my siblings and me. From my Mother I’ve learned not only to embrace my heritage, but also to be proud of it. Even though I don’t parade around school with the flag of Mexico on my backpack, I will gladly tilt my head back and let loose the deafening laugh my family is famous for despite the occasional glare from my peers.

I am thankful for the way I look. It has taught me that even though being Mexican does not define me, it has helped shape and become a part of the person I am. My name is Carina Bianca and though my skin is pale and my eyes are not brown, I am a full-blooded Mexican and will not be told otherwise.





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