What I love about being Latina: My herencia: the richness that encompasses our culture, language, traditions, the fact that within the “Latin culture” there are quite a variety of subcultures to learn and know more about. I love the fact that I can visit a multitude of countries in Latin America with similar values and at the same time with new things to explore.
What I love about being Americana: I have many opportunities my family doesn’t have in Colombia or the Dominican Republic. There is so much diversity in the States, I am able to mesh with so many other cultures. I had the privilege to study in an elite university– a place where a person with my economic status in Latin America could only dream about. Being Americana made me who I am, and I am able to make my dreams come true.
My biggest challenge in growing up Latina in America: Growing up all I saw were white, blond, and blue eyed women on TV, magazines and in movies. Not many looked like me. So I developed a complex where I thought being Caucasian was better. It was on TV and only the best were on TV or so I thought. My self esteem did suffer; I felt inferior to a person lighter than me. It wasn’t until my teens that I began to hear Latin music and saw how great we really are and began to embrace my gorgeous full brown hair and year round tanned skin.
My biggest support in growing up Latina in America: My family was a great support especially my sister, she beat the odds coming from an “under privileged” neighborhood and entered the Ivy Leagues, and I later followed in her foot steps. Also, I was and still am a huge Selena fan. I was quite impressed when I saw her performing because she looked just like me! At least I wanted to look like her! Seeing her and other great women of color on TV helped me embrace my Latin beauty and sent the message that I too can be just as great.
Why I am beautiful: I am beautiful because I represent a myriad of rich cultures, and I am able to see, feel, smell and almost touch the true essence of my heritage every time I see my reflection. On physical terms, I love love love my features, my curly hair represents a mixture of European, African and indigenous decent as does my tanned skin and wide set hips. My personality reflects a bridge of two distinct worlds making me stand out in college and in my current career. I like to believe that my creativity spans from my Latin ancestry. I never run out of inspiration and creative ideas when looking south of the border. If I ever feel “blocked,” I look at pictures of the Caribbean, pick up a Gabriel Garcia Marquez book, do research on ancient pre-Colombian civilizations or just listen to the beats of the music. The fact I can look towards my people for inspiration makes me feel beautiful.