Chicana? Mexican? Mayan? Coahuiltecan? American? Latina? Nopalese? Hispanic? India? Beaner? Wetback? Immigrant? Coconut? Fence hopper? Tire hugger? Roach? Anchor baby? All of these names were thrown at her, expecting to answer or be titled as one, she didn’t even know what she was.
She has a gringa first name with a Mexicana last name. It only sounded Mexican whenever the right people said it. If there was no accent, she really wasn’t the one with the gringa first name and Mexicana last name. She came from a small immediate family, but as her reach grew, she saw she had access to an extended family in Houston, Pasco, Hidalgo, Corpus, Monterrey, Reynosa. In her dreams, she saw her Coahuiltecan family and the ancestors from the tribe in the Rio Grande Valley. Trips to Mexico made her feel like an outsider, the feeling of distance was disgusting. Being from Austin, a town that wasn’t very supportive of her culture, made her feel distant from her roots, having this fear of being white washed internally and externally, whatever that meant. But as she tried to get closer to her real self, life just got harder for her.
The frustration and anger going through her blood, due to an ancestry project that she couldn’t participate in. She didn’t think it was possible for a website to be racist as well.
“What have you found on your family? Mine has ancestry back to Germany and he was a pilot in World War II.” Nothing. She found absolutely nothing. Her family isn’t even from here, her family documents are nowhere to be found in the U.S or in Europe. Why were Western countries mostly favorited and any documents that tied back to there were easier to access? All she had was a book that her uncle gave her about the tribe she was from, even then it was ridiculously hard to get the information she needed. Let’s go a bit broader, any information on the Coahuiltecans? Nope, all she knows is that the Europeans wiped them out. What else does she know? Nothing. She also knows that people laugh, give her dirty glares, and make disgusted faces when the Aztecs are brought up because sacrificing people was wrong, and they barely wore any clothes. I don’t know what is so disgusting about her culture when Europeans spread diseases, raping women, colonizing the Americas, taking all of the land from her people and imperializing. Her culture was beautiful, no matter how little they were discussed.
I never thought one man could plant so much fear in her heart. Him announcing his presidential campaign then disrespecting Latinos in his plan for action felt like a slap in the face. This man couldn’t be serious right? As elections came closer and closer, the sicker and more anxious she became. She refused to let a man who constantly disrespected women, people of color, the LGBTQ community and wanted to deport all of her people and build a wall rule her home country. But it was out of her reach, completely breaking her heart and potentially ruining her future as a Mexican American. Choking on sobs, tears streaming down her face, wailing in agony because she didn’t want to accept that a racist pig was going to be in office. She didn’t want to deal with the, “MY PRESIDENT WILL DEPORT YOU, WE’RE GOING TO BUILD THAT WALL.” She didn’t want to answer the questions of students she works with about what would happen to them or their parents. She didn’t want to think about her extended family getting deported. She didn’t want to have to prepare to be doubted when she states that she’s an American citizen. Most importantly, she wasn’t ready for even more hatred because she is brown.
Growing up, there was never a Barbie doll that had long black hair, brown skin, big brown eyes or had a little bit of fat on her. Hannah Montana wasn’t brown, Kim Possible wasn’t brown either. Shakira was all she had growing up, and she wasn’t even Mexican. That or Dora, but who would want to relate to Dora? But she wasn’t anything like Dora. She grew up speaking 2 languages, Spanish at home and with her nanny then English whenever she got to school. She was put in the English class with the English kids and their English books and English last names. She was dying to have a whiter name, she wanted to be just like the English kids.
An 8-year-old shouldn’t want to bleach her skin so that she can be “pretty” like the girls on T.V. An 8 year old shouldn’t ask to change her name so she sounds white. An 8-year-old shouldn’t feel awkward and ashamed when her family is speaking Spanish, while she isn’t because she abandoned it. It was like society didn’t have room for Mexican girls in her eyes. There was still that nasty feeling of guilt about who she was. Why would a child have to grow up with the idea that she wasn’t pretty and that it wasn’t okay to be who she was? Why would she have to live the rest of her adolescence with a burden of insecurity?
Why was there only diet pill commercials on the Spanish channels? Why were Mexican women categorized as fat, gross looking and unattractive or super thin and fake with really big breasts and a large butt, looking like the girls at lucha libre matches? White society held her hair back and laughed as she stuck her head in the toilet bowl every day and every night, praising her for wanting to look like the so-called beautiful girls that weren’t even Mexican in those diet commercials. Doing any exercise to make her butt bigger, stomach flatter, thighs bigger, buying any push-up bra she could find, waist trainers galore and ace bandages were her best friends to become the ideal Mexican goddess that everyone would be attracted to. Society gave her such a dangerous standard, she still doesn’t even know what the perfect Mexican girl is supposed to look like, I don’t think she ever will.
She didn’t appreciate herself, but others appreciated her a little too much.
“Call me papí, mamacita.” You’re not her father.
“Them Mexican girls are crazy, I need a Mexican girl.” She’s crazy because she cares for you a lot? Step your standards up.
“She can cook, clean and have a fat ass?” Let me tell you something, she can do much more than that. Her butt isn’t going to get her through life.
“If my girl ever acts up, I’m calling border control.” Because calling immigration on a legal citizen, a second generation girl will solve all of your problems?
Was she sexy because of her race? Was she the punchline of a joke that she would never understand? Was this really who she wanted to be?
This is exactly who she wanted to be.
She wanted to be that girl with the gravy hips, the girl with the hairy arms, the girl with the long black hair that made her seem Indigenous, that girl with the so-called fat ass. You know, that girl with the loud mouth and the “ghetto” accent? And the one who was the crazy girlfriend? The one that you believe will become a teen mother and is “potentially” gonna be your maid? The one that you doubted because her last name made her seem less successful? The one that you made fun of, and talked about as if her being Mexican was a dirty thing.
So to everyone who sat her family down later at restaurants because they spoke Spanish, who claimed they loved vacationing in Cancun but look at Mexicans con el ojo , who use Cinco de Mayo as an excuse to drink, who told her she was pretty for a Mexican, those who laughed as she performed cultural rituals and dances, the ones who glared when she used “brujeria” to make herself feel better and most importantly, those who voted to build that wall but claim to love Mexican food, this was for you.
No, really. Thank you.
Thank you for helping her become the chingona she is today.