American of Mexican Descent

March 7, 2011
More by this author
America means a lot of things to a lot of different people. For some it’s freedom and equality. For others it’s dedication and opportunity. Some initial thoughts can be as simple as baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. America means all of these obvious things to me, but it also has a deeper meaning.

My mom always told me that her grandfather would say “we are American of Mexican descent”. What does that mean? Just recently I have become more familiar with my heritage. Latino or Hispanic are items to check off on official forms many times. And even though I’ve been raised to reflect on the phrases Mexican-American or “American of Mexican descent”, I’m also told to check off “white” when stating my race. Although I’m asked to state “white” many times people believe I shouldn’t be given the same opportunities because my surname is not white nor is my skin color. My great grandfather was a proud American and he never wanted us to refer to ourselves as something that would hide the fact that we are “American”. My family has been in this country for many generations. On my mother’s side I would be considered a 6th generation Mexican-American and on my father’s side I am a 2nd generation Mexican-American. Whichever members arrived here first is not important. What is important is why they came. My relatives will say that they came to find a better life. America was going to provide more opportunities for them and their children. However, this belief isn’t just true for immigrants from Mexico, like my ancestors, it’s true for generations throughout the world.
People come here from all over with hopes of having a better life and giving a better future to their children and grandchildren. It’s because of this that America is so diverse. Some people like to call the United States a melting pot, but my mother always told me that it’s more like a salad. People don’t come to this country and melt together to become an “American”. There isn’t one type of look or skill that you need to be an American - it’s different for everyone. Most people keep their heritage and live in America. That’s what makes the United States so great. Everyone is different and diverse and everyone can learn something different from each other.
This is why my America isn’t just hot dogs and apple pie. My America smells like tamales and pozole during Christmas. My American sees the beauty in the bright colored dresses on Olvera Street and the fireworks on the 4th of July. In my America I watch little kids break a piñata and play Duck, Duck, Goose at a birthday party. My America sounds like a Dodger game and rock en español. My America hears my mom speak two languages so my sister can have the gift of bilingualism. My America is watching American Idol and El Orfanato with my family. In my America my grandparents call me “mijo” instead of “dear”. I am fortunate because my America is rich in Latin culture, but has all the gifts from a land of opportunity.
America is what you make it. There is no true American culture. The American culture has been developed, borrowed, and even stolen from settlers who came from other lands. America has been built on the blood, sweat and tears of people from all walks of life. The inscription of the Statue of Liberty states, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Our ancestors have taken this to heart and came seeking a better life. People from all over the world have made this their home. It’s the land of opportunity, freedom and diversity. I’m truly thankful that my past generations had the courage to venture to this wonderful place and take part in creating my America.

Join the Discussion

This article has 1 comment. Post your own now!

karstarr13 said...
Mar. 15, 2011 at 6:07 pm
i really enjoyed reading your piece! please read some one mine :) And comment! Thanks so much! 
Site Feedback