What I love about being Latina: What’s not to love? I can dance, I can cook, I can speak Spanish (though not always so gracefully!), I have curves, and I am a strong woman with a flare for the dramatic. I love that we are a people that by the nature of who we are and our histories — collective and otherwise — we are often racially, culturally, ethnically and spiritually a blend of so many different things that our food, music, and cultures are simply breathtaking. Lastly, as a poet, I think Latin Americans and U.S.-born Latinos are some of the most prolific poets and artists to ever have walked the earth. I am so proud of the art we give to this world.
What I love about being Americana: I love the freedoms we have in this country — I love that I have more choices as a woman, that gender roles are a bit more relaxed in this country, and that the stigma of being a lesbian isn’t as prominent here. I love, too, that so many peoples come to this country that the opportunity for learning is simply endless.
My biggest challenge in growing up Latina in America: My biggest challenge in maturing into the woman I am today was what many people go through — I had to learn that we are who we are from the inside out, not the other way around. When you are secure in who you are, it doesn’t matter what others think. Being mixed and very light skinned, as a young person I often felt I had to prove how Latina I was. Also, I was ashamed of my family because we were poor and fulfilled a stereotype about Latinos. I came to understand that my family did what we had to do to survive difficult circumstances and it didn’t matter anymore if people knew about our circumstances or judged us. There was so much love there, and we are one of the most affectionate families I know.
My biggest support in growing up Latina in America: My family has been both a support and a challenge, but a challenge in a good way. We were an unconventional group of folks: cooks, musicians, strong women, and hard working immigrants that ultimately allowed me to learn what surviving life can look like and what living life can look like. I am grateful for their journeys and for their example. The other HUGE support for me was the literature that Latinos were publishing in the 90s. When you grow up in a little bubble culturally (I grew up mostly around mi familia peruana y puertorriquenos), it helps to see stories told about other Latino nationalities so I could listen for the similarities and appreciate the differences.
Why I am beautiful: I am beautiful because I claim all of who I am and I am proud of it. Punto.