Are you Latino enough? ‘My Family Said I’m not Latino.’ #Latino #Latism

My blog began because I found it liberating to share with others (whoever could find me online) about my ‘identity crisis’. You know the not being Mexican enough for Mexicans and not being American enough for Americans. When people ask me what I blog about that’s pretty much what I tell them.

Very often I think to myself that I will write a blog post about my ‘identity crisis’ as a mother … I’m still trying to figure out what kind of mom I’m going to be (my oldest is five-years-old). Maybe today is the day I will write about my ‘identity crisis’ as a Christian. I call myself a stumbling follower of Christ because I’m always picking myself back up. I’m also mostly a Democrat and lots of people can’t understand how those two labels go together. (note: I wrote that piece here.)

I have much to share. However, before I can allow myself to really think about those crisis, I find myself right back to the Mexican-American identity crisis. My blog has been a bit therapeutic. Okay, a lot therapeutic. It’s definitely a reason to explore my community in San Antonio and my Latino community on and offline. I have read and researched more about my Tejano heritage. I’ve attended ‘Latino community’ events like the recent People en Español’s Festival to see Mexican singer Luis Miguel in concert where I leaned over and told mi esposo, “I think this is a milestone in my Latina-ness journey.” I’ve taught my two boys how to ‘throw gritos‘ at the appropriate times! So, see, I’m feeling good about learning and experiencing my Latino heritage.

 

AND THEN I had an unexpected conversation with my great-uncle on Facebook of all places. In a nutshell, I was going on about my affinity for (then) Mayor Julián Castro. My great-uncle respectfully disagreed and proceeded to say “I hope you didn’t vote for him just because he is Latino because among other things, you are not Latino.”

*sigh*

Ummm, what? … I started to feel the walls come crashing down. My own family was telling me I am not Latino. And where I come from, you don’t disrespect your elders. I kindly asked how did he identify himself. His response: “Myself I’m a born again Christian with Texas roots. Can’t get any better than that.”

*smile*

No, Tío, you can’t. I loved his answer … for him.

In a different online conversation I read this statement (regarding the ‘are you Latino enough debate’):

“Again this emphasizes the importance of getting clear on who you are before others are too willing to tell you what you are not!” (Gracias, Santalynda.)

Before I allowed my Latino walls crash down around me, I focused on getting clear on who I say who I am. Soy Tejana. Soy Latina Americana. Soy yo.

Melanie Mendez-Gonzales

Original content creator for ¿Qué Means What? Texas Latina mom blogger celebrating culture in education, entertainment and family life.

3 Responses

  1. J . Angel says:

    Good little read… i often would run into this Identity Crisis with friends, family, co worker. But around the time i turned 30, it didnt even matter anymore. I left it for the other people to label me, and i went about living. I remember being hurt when i was a teenager and into my 20’s. Life is so much easier not giving labels or being affected by them. Its funny what your uncle said, but it sounds like he was more interested in the political aspect, then on really telling you what you were or were not. Tio’s , especially the older one can have there cake and eat it too. I like being the best parts of being American and the best parts of being Latino. Mixing them up, adding some Lynard Skynard with 2 parts Salsa, a dash of Cilantro, and topping it off with Buddhism. Thats me.. Cheers.. PS.. ” Be here in the Now ” Thich Nhat Hanh

    • mendezgonzales says:

      Thanks for reading and responding J. Angel. Labels really shouldn’t matter. I like that you said you left if for the other people to label you. Good point. I agree that it’s good to mix it up. That’s what I try to blog about … creating my own thing – cultural identity, you know. I get the Lynard Skynard. My girl is Janis. That’s how I grew up, with parts of Motown and Tejano. 🙂

  1. September 13, 2012

    […] This article was first published in Que Means What? […]

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