My Own Identity: Not a smoothie

imagesI was born in the United States after my parents migrated here from Mexico. If you asked an anthropologist, they would most likely tell you that I am a “Chicana”. I do not like that label. I consider myself to be a Mexican-American female. For those of you who do not know the difference between these two terms, a Chicano/a is a person of Mexican descent who is born in the United States, and a Mexican-American is a person who is born in Mexico and later migrate to the United States and becomes a citizen. Technically I am a Chicana, but I feel that this term does not do my heritage any justice.
To me, the term “Chicana” is a major form of culture shock. The term was created to express that “in-between feeling”. Almost as if you don’t belong anywhere, you are not Mexican, and not American. You are something completely new. Just because I am a bit of a visual thinker, being Chicana is like throwing berries and yogurt in the blender and calling it a smoothie. After, you have the blended smoothie, there is no way to separate the yogurt from the berries. You can not have just berries, or just yogurt, you are stuck with both.
I see myself as yogurt with berries. They go great together, but are not bad when eaten alone. I do not call myself Chicana because I can go to Mexico and understand the culture without any complications. In the same way, I live in the United States and do not feel as if I do not belong. My point is that I am not a homogeneous mixture of the two. I am both but on different levels. See, I can enjoy “un tamal” and also a burger, but I do not want to try a tamale-burger. I am not about the Taco-bell ways. I like to keep these two aspects of my life separate because when they become one, I feel as if I am not enjoying one or the other. Keeping my heritage separated, makes me feel as if I am doubly enjoying the benefits of each heritage.
I have always thought that language is a huge part of knowing a culture. If you speak the language, you are a step closer to finding out what it means to be of that particular culture. When I have children of my own I want to be able to tell them the stories that I was told by my grandparents. To get the same affect, they must be retold in Spanish because some things simply do not translate to mean the same thing. I figure that if I want my kids to speak both languages, I should first be able to speak them both flawlessly. I do not speak “Spanglish”, I speak Spanish and English.
Some people associate my way of thinking of myself as having multiple personalities, but I don’t see it that way. baile folkloricobarbecueI like to know that I can be the most patriotic person on the 4th of July, but come September 16th I am going to be a proud Mexican.
So, although on a technicality I am not Mexican-American, I prefer that term over Chicana because it is straight forward. No one has to wonder, “What is Mexican-American?” It is simple. A lot of people are not familiar with the term “Chiacano/a”, and it does not give a mex-amsingle clue as to what it might be. I guess the easiest way to say it, is to say “I am Mexican and I am American.”

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4 Responses to My Own Identity: Not a smoothie

  1. Mbrooks8 says:

    I think i’m a strawberry and banana smoothie. I really like the way you describe your heritage as a smoothie. I didn’t really think of it in terms of food before, but that means you really must like smoothies =)

  2. brodrigues2 says:

    I like how you expressed that you can be and should be proud and have both cultures, that it doesn’t have to be just either Mexican or American. I can definitely relate to it I was born in Brazil and moved here at the age of 14, and also like you I feel completely comfortable in both my cultures and don’t choose one of the other. I think its good to embrace both cultures and cultural background you are from. πŸ™‚

  3. dvelazquez2 says:

    I really liked the tone in your blog because it kept me entertained, and also reflected your two nationalities appropriately. Also, I thought the smoothie example was great, along with all of your other examples such as eating a tamal and eating a burger. I agree with your opinion on being proud of both nationalities and not mixing them, but instead keeping them separate to be 100% both Mexican and American, not 50/50. πŸ™‚

  4. rgodinez2 says:

    I enjoyed reading your post and the metaphor you used to compare your heritage was interesting. I also agree with the metaphor you used and feel because I am of have some Mexican culture and American culture.

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