What I love about being Latina: I am born of Latin roots. My heritage sculpted from brown, indigenous earth. The waters that carried an enslaved people fill my nocturnal dreams, accompanying me since childhood. The winds of their ancestral whispers move me toward memory and authenticity. And in my build lies the conqueror’s fiery dominance subdued by a desire for humility and service.
What I love being about Americana: I am American born. from New York City, because for me the two are inextricably linked. America gave me the nod to be free in body, mind and spirit. No stereotypes, fear-induced nay-sayers could hold me back. No references to horrific news stories, or admonishes to sit with knees taut together could suppress the bold expression of me. I am rhythm and voice. Never one to ask for permission, I move towards people, place and things that captivate my imagination and curiosity. Lady Liberty a sister in solidarity.
My biggest challenge in growing up Latina in America: I am from two cultural worlds. And where they overlap, like a venn diagram, is where I find my identity. Yet el dolor del dinero is what brought pain into my childhood home. The hopes and dreams of mother and father sacrificed at the altar of The American Dream. They worked for small wages, with no resources except for faith and their untiring work ethic. Poverty was brown, and Fifth Avenue fortune was white, blond and pedicured. My challenge growing up was recognizing the richness of where I came from. Wealth lay in the story-telling, affection and music that filled our apartment-home. The promise of fulfilled dreams is my quest and birthright.
My biggest support in growing up Latina in America: I stand tall. Family is eternally my support system. The kinship built between Latin women and me propelling us all forward. The guidance of older mentors (of various cultural backgrounds) a healing medicine. Adult pilgrimages to Latin America (Guatemala, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Brazil and of course Colombia) fill me with pride. Succor comes in various and sundry, God blessed ways.
Why I am beautiful: I see the beauty beneath appearances. I hold my values high. My bi-cultural upbringing allows me to respect all other cultures.