“Do you want a quince or a sweet sixteen?”
This question confused me in my teens, more than the fact that my Dad asked it genuinely. It came from out-of-the blue, For me, I was uncomfortable having to choose, so in the end I didn’t choose either. Why would a white-looking girl not fluent in Spanish have a quince? People would call me an impostor! This was my reasoning at the “figuring myself out” part of my life.
Anyone with a mixed ethnicity can relate when I say that I don’t feel like I belong to a specific group. I am still torn on those narrow-minded ethnicity surveys.. Do I check the white, hispanic, or other box? Although I look completely white, I don’t feel completely white. Because I don’t look Mexican at all (there’s no Mexican look, but let’s go by stereotypes), I’ve never fully connected with latinx minority groups. In college, I was technically a member of the office of minority student affairs. I got their emails, but I didn’t go to a single meeting because I didn’t feel the need. I am treated mostly as a white person, so I didn’t experience what minorities experienced. So in college I didn’t associate with Hispanic/Latinx groups.
I realize I don’t need to prove my Hispanic background. But since you don’t really know me here are a few facts to convince you:
-My Grandma, born Rosa Marina Bolado, was from Monterrey Mexico, and my grandfather Roy Barton had a Mexican background. My Grandma had more Spanish ancestry, giving her whiter looking skin.
-I can understand and read Spanish almost like a native speaker. But I am terrible at speaking it.
-My father is the director of Hispanic Ministries at SMU.
-I was actually born and raised in a Mexican-American church.
-I loved the Selena movie. Anything for salinasss!!
-I make delicious guacamole and enchiladas. Believe me.
I always wanted to write about being half-mexican half-white, but have been shy about it because, honestly, who wants to hear me complain about being a special snowflake? But something made me more proud to embrace that part of my background.
Recently I discovered an album called “Canciones de Mi Padre” by 70s rock-singer Linda Ronstadt. The vocals in it are powerful and full of emotion, the mariachi backup guitars and trumpets, and the impassioned longing lyrics are literally perfect. I learned that Linda is half-Mexican and half-German like me, doesn’t speak Spanish fluently, and still released this album. To me that is brave, because I’m sure she has gotten the “not Mexican enough” comments. Yet, the album is one of the top-selling foreign language albums in the US, just under Selena’s “Dreaming of You” and “Amor Prohibido” (also LOVE). It is inspiring to me because I haven’t really had the courage to show or celebrate my Mexican-ness like she did. When I listen to the album it gives me validation that I actually CAN call myself part Mexican-American.
Our generation is becoming more and more mixed in ethnicity, and it’s beautiful. More people will start to feel confused where they belong culturally, and what to call themselves. I say, embrace both, and please don’t be insecure about it like I was!
I don’t know how to end these blogs. Thank you for reading!