“I’m aware of the hardships that my family had, seeing them overcome these hardships and seeing them where they are now; they were able to bring me to where I am now, that gives me strength and faith that I can overcome any challenges. If they overcame their challenges I know that mine are easier.”
“yo estoy interada de los tiempos dificiles que tuvo mi familia, viendo como los conquistaron y viendo donde estan hoy; me an traijido donde estoy hoy, esto meda fuerza y fe que puedo conquistar todos los problemos mios. Si, ellos pudieron conquistar todos sus problemas entonces los mios son mas facil.”
“When we were little and we used to go spend summers at my grandma's house in Monterrey, and we would wait in the evening the eloteros used to come by and sell corn on the cob, we walked up to this huge tub and we would go and pick out our corn and he would prepare it for you… and the man would scream, “hay elotes, hay elotes!”... we used to put lemon and mayonnaise and hot sauce and butter, all that good stuff, then they would prop it on a stick, and we all used to sit outside on a rocking chair and eat them.”
“Cuando eranos chicos y pasabanos los veranos con mi abuelita en Monterrey. Esperabanos en la tarde para los eloteros que pasaban a vender elotes. Nos hacer cabanos a los casos llenos de elotes para escojer nuestro elote y el lo preparaba a tu gusto...y el elotero gritaba, “Hay elotes, hay elotes!”...le ponemos limon, mayoanesa, chile, y mantequia, todos esas cosas buenas. Luego, lo ponia en un palo, y nos sentabanos afuerda en sias mesedoras.”
My first day of pre-k, I don't remember very well--the color yellow and the smell of crayons were the only vague memories I have. But I do remember my mother. She was wearing an ironed pant suit, and she knelt down with me at my desk and gave me a small peck on my cheek. As she pulled me into her arms my head was in the crook of her neck, and her hair suffocated me with hairspray. She whispered into my ear in a soft yet powerful tone.
Do not ever forget your name, if anyone asks you say proudly that your name is Samantha Elvia. Do not be ashamed of your name or where your family is from. I love you, okay?
As a child still waddling around, I had always wondered what she meant. Of course I wouldn’t forget my name, did she really think that I was that stupid? It had only occurred to me years later what she meant. That she did not want me to neglect my culture as she did growing up. To not let anyone tell me that I’m not Mexican because I do not look Mexican. And to not forget my roots and how they have shaped my life and my family. Her words made me who I am today, and because of it I will promote my culture around others. I will not let others say i'm not mexican because of my blonde hair. but I will also recognize my job of having blonde hair and a mexican heritage, to recognize my white privilege and use it for the better of my community. And lastly I will always treasure my roots and family ancestry, because of how they have shaped my life and my family.
“Coming from a Mexican background, the traditions that my mother and father passed to me, i value because i incorporate those beliefs and those values to my way of living and although i may make changes to the choices that i make incorporating my mexican culture with my american culture, I feel that i can pass on cultural ideas and customs to my son. I love the cooking, the spices, the food that i was able to eat as a child, the dresses for the mexican dances… all those things mean a lot to me, because it tells me who I am and where I came from.”
“Viniendo de una familia Mexicana las tradiciones que mis padres me pasaron yo las valoró por qué yo incorpo estos creencias y valores a mi manera de vivir. Y aunque hago cambios a las opciones que yo encorporo mi cultura mexicana con mi cultura americana. Yo siento que yo puedo pasar mis ideas de cultura y custubres a mis hijos. Me encanta concinar las especias la comida que yo é pudido comer como niña los vestidos para los bailes mexicanas todos estás cosas son valorosas para mi por qué me dicen quién soy y de donde vengo.”
My childhood weekends were occasionally spent with my Madrina and my cousin, Mateo. We’d fall asleep on the couch in the living room and the next morning when wed wake up and make french toast. We’d stand on our tip-toes next to my Madrina’s waist and peek over at the steaming hot cinnamon bread cooking on the stove. When she was almost done cooking, wed rush to the table and wait for her to bring the plates to us. She’d set a big plate of warm french toast in front of us with maple syrup and powdered sugar.
That was the most memorable memory with them, all of us sitting around the table, drenching our french toast with syrup and washing it all down with cold milk. It was always so funny how the second we were done, my padrino had finally woken up, only in time for cereal.
“Los fines de semana de mi niñes eran pasados con mi madrina y mi primo mateo. Nos dormíamos en el sofá en la sala y la siguiente mañana nos levantamos y preparabanos French toast. nos parabamos en nuestros pies de puntitas en La Cocina a lado de la cintura de mi madrina y nos asomabanos aver el vapor del pan de canela caliente. Cocinándose en la estufa. Cuando ya mero terminaba de cocinar, la apurábanos a la mesa y a esperábanos que nos traiga los platos. Ella ponía un plato grande de French toast calentito enfrente de nosotros, con niel y azúcar de polvo. Esa es la memoria más memorable que tengo con ella de todos nosotros sentados alrededor de la mesa, remujando nuestro French toast con niel y levándose con leche fría. Siempre era muy chistoso, el Segundo que terminavamos, mi padrino al fin se despertaba. Solamente a tiempo para cereal.
“ Mexican food brings back my heritage from Monterrey, from Mexico, where were from. It’s the picante sauce, its the flavor, everything is just good...My mom used to make arroz con leche when I was little and oh I loved it… the first tiem that she made it for me I loved it that I ate the whole pot.”
“ comida mexicana me tríe mi herencia de Monterrey México es la salsa picante, es el sabor, todo es sabroso. mi mama hacia arroz con leche cuando yo era chica y me encantaba. La primera ves que ella me lo preparo yo me comí todo la olla.”
Sitting at the kitchen counter, watching her cut mangos for me. Colorful tiles lined the kitchen walls, a dizzy room of bright blues yellows and red swirls. She stared down at her task with concentration into each deep cut she made, juice bled out from the yellow fruit. My feet dangled off the ground in a tall metal chair, a purple cushion lifted me up to teh countertop height. The cold metal brushed my toes as I swun gmy legs back nnnnnnnnand forth impatienlty, waiting to eat. Clouds of warm spices filled the kitchen from dinner being cooked. Pollo con mole y arroz was bubbling on the stove. Light gleamed through the window and shined on cream colored tiles on the floor. I leaned foward to look out the window over the sink, and saw the banana tree outside stirring in the wind, almost like it was waving at me. I smiled and sat back in the chair, when Nancy slid the sliced mango in front of me. Thank you I said, you cant get away with out manners in a mexican household. I sunk my teeth into the juicey fruit, sweet nectar dripped off my chin onto my neck as a mango slush filled my cheeks. It was devoured in seconds. Juice dried on my fingers and ckeeks, sticky and sweet. Nancy smiled and laughed at how fast I ate the mango.
Baby girl, I love you bunches.
Bunches and buhces of mangos and mangos, mangos and mangos of bunches and bunches. Thats what we’d say to each other after I love you. Especially over the phone when I’d leave Houston, she’d call my mom to catch up and she’d hand the phone over to me. We went on and on to see who could say who loved each other the most. Littel did I know the whole time she was allergic to mangos.
Sentadas en La Cocina viéndola cartar mangos para mi. Azulejos coloroso estaba en el pared de La Cocina, un quarto mariado de azulejos brillantes, amarillos, y rojos caracoles. Mi tia Nancy miraba a su trabajo con concentración, en cada corte hondo que hacía, jugó salía de la fruta amarilla. Mis pies colgaban al suelo en una silla de metal con un colchón morado oscuro. El metal frío me atocaban mis pies cuando columpiada mis piernas adelante y atrás impaciamente, esperando para comer. Nubes de especias calientitas llenaban La Cocina de la cena que estaban cocinando. Pollo can mole y arroz estaban hirviendo en la estufa. La Luz entraba por la ventana y brillaba en su cara. Me hacer que contra ella para ver si había terminado, y ella acercó el mango rebanado enfrente de mi. Fue devorado en segundos. Nancy son conrio y se rió.
Niña chica te quiero mucho.
Muchos y muchos de mangos y mangos, mangos y mangos de mucho y mucho.
Eso deseanos siempre después de te quiero. Seguíanos así hasta que pueda nos ver quién desea quien Quiera al otro más. Lo poco que yo sabía es que ella estaban alérgica a mangos.
“ As Mexican Americans, we have to carry our family values into the states with us. We have to treat everyone like family because its apart of who we are and its the value of our ancestors.”
“Como mexicanos americanos, tenemos que cargar nuestros valores de nuestra cultura a los Estados Unidos con nosotros. Tenemos que tratar a todos como familia por qué es parte te quién somos y los valores de nuestros ancestros.”
When the majority of my family got together for thanks giving and Christmas, I began to prepare my self for the amount of boredom I would face around so many adults. At the time I was much younger, around 7 years old. But there was one family member that scared me the most, my tío Jaime. I don't know why, maybe it was because of his booming voice or how extremely tall he was, but I feared for my life when I was around him. We were all walking around and mingling when jaime began to talk to my mom and my madrina, i began to ease myself away from the situation when they began to reminisce a story from their childhood. Out of curiosity I stayed and listened.
It was about jaime when he was around my age, he owned a pocketknife and always threw it up in the air to scare my aunts when they were little too. One day he threw it up in the air and it fell- but when it fell it landed in my madrinas leg. She fainted from shock and my mom said Jaime never forgave himself and tended to her every need. The story left me queasy, but they were all laughing with tears brimming their eyes. The story gave me a new view of Jaime, I was now exposed to a child like version of him. I less scared of him and felt more connected to him. Even today I can relate to him more and have a better relationship with my tío.
“Family means unity, but as a latina woman I am also strong and independent while still carrying what my community and family values.”
“ familia quiere decir unidad, pero como una mujer latina yo también soy fuerte y independiente mientras todo vía cargando lo de mi comunidad y valores de familia”
I remember when i was ten years old, it was thanksgiving and Rosalva and Emelda had come to visit for the holidays. We were at my madrina’s house waiting for the rest of the family to arrive, and it was just me and Rosalva sitting at the round kitchen table, while everyone else cooked in the kitchen. She was wearing a dark red sweater and her dark hair curled at the cliff of her jaw. We were both shy and quiet, mostly because of the language difference of me not knowing spanish and her not knowing english. It took me all my courage until I was able to ask her in broken spanish about her life growing up in Monterrey. At first her face lit up, but she hesitated, trying to find the words in english to describe her story, then she spoke in her light fluttery voice.
Growing up in monterrey was much different than how everything is now, some in good ways and some in bad ways. I think my favorite memory from growing up was walking to buy fruit. Back then, we didn't have big metal stores like they do now, farmers would bring their crops and food and set up stands outside of town the fields. And I would walk every morning to go buy the fruit for the family. The road would be lined with stands overflowing with fruits and vegetables, avocados, plantains, oranges, pina, and my most favorite, sandia. I would walk straight up the the stand with watermelons and buy as much as i could carry. When i got home we would all cut it up, take it outside and eat it under the sun, it was so refreshing and juicy. Our fingers and lips would be stained pink for the rest of the day.
“ In the Yucatan peninsula, there lives people that have descended from their Mayan ancestors, and in Oaxaca, descendants of their native ancestors, the Zapotecs and Mixtecs,reside there further north. As you go more north towards Monterrey, where we’re from. Everyone has different features, some are darker skinned or shorter than others, but inspite of the different features and cultures we have, we are all Mexicans; that unites us as Latinos.”
“ Family sticks together no matter what, we protect eachother, even when there is conflicts in the family, if you’re bickering, if somebody tries to do harm to any one in your family you still protect them from. You stand up for one another.”
“Success means education and harwork, because I am latina, i had to work harder to reach my success, but it also means I proved how strong latinas are. I hope young latinas today will exceed evryones stereotypes as well and become successful.”
“ Éxito quiere decir educación y trabajar duro, por qué yo soy latina, yo tuve que trabajar más duro para al cansar mis éxitos, pero también quiere decir que yo enseñé que fuerte latinas son. Yo deseo que latinas jóvenes hoy van a sobre pasar los estereotipos y también a ser exitosos.”
Since I could remember the women of my family always cooked and cleaned at family events, while the men sat in the living room and watched football. I was told in the Mexican culture the man does not cook.
I had always pondered this idea. Why didn't anyone try to change this? Why didn't my mom or my aunts encourage their husbands to help and fight against these patriarchal traditions? Why was it that I was always pulled into the kitchen and all my other cousins were encouraged to go sit with their fathers? Would that become me when I grew up?
These questions swirled in my head every family gathering. In order to avoid being whisked away to monitor the menudo, I refused to help in the kitchen. I loved cooking, but I would not fall into these stereotypical domestic housewife role.
I remember when I was eleven years old my tias Imelda and Rosalva had come to visit for the holidays from Monterrey. I hadn't seen them in a couple years and I wondered how they would react to this scenario. Would they scold me for rejecting these traditions? When we arrived at my madrinas house for the party, I held my breath watching them to see what they would do. And what I saw next still sticks with me today, they greeted everyone and sat themselves down with the men and watched sports. I stood in awe. I sat down next to Imelda and I looked over and she smiled at me. We exchanged conversations in broken Spanish and English. From the stories she told me I discovered how Imelda and Rosalva were independent women, they pursued their education and from that moment on I knew that I aspired to be the strong Latina women that they are.
“I’m proud of the fact that I can speak two languages, and be helpful to others. But there was a time in my life when I was in college where I felt I was a minority. That was really hard for me...going to school in an all white majority in college. I had gone to high school in Houston, the majority there was mostly Mexicans and African Americans. Going from that to a white majority school was a culture shock to me. As hard as it might be, we still have to pursue and continue to achieve an education that will bring you success in life.”
“ Estoy orgullosa que puedo hablar dos idiomas, y poder ayudar a otros. Pero había un tiempo en mi vida cuando estaba en colegio quando yo me sentí que yo era una minoría. Eso era muy difícil para mi… llenado a un escuela donde todos eran gente blanca en el colegio. Yo había ido a escuela secondaria en Houston, la mayoría hai eran casi puros mexicanos y africanos americanos, llenado de allí a una escuela mayoría de gente blanca fue un choque de cultura para mi. Aunque fue difícil para mi, tenemos que seguir y continuar a lograr un educación que te traiga éxitos en tu vida.”