What I love about being Latina: The traditions of my grandparents. We are a very unified group that values family, elders, and traditions. I still have never said a bad word in the company of my grandparents. I mind what I wear and how I compose myself. I do it automatically and don’t mind it at all. In fact, it is something I really respect. It really IS ok to be loud, in each other’s business, live under the same roof, and party for no reason. My fondest memories are of my grandfather who taught me how to roll tobacco for cigars and how to play dominoes. That is because wherever he went, I went. That’s another great thing about Latinos, the kids and the viejos can hang together and it’s cool. My cousins and I party with our viejos all the time. They are part of the crew.What I love about being Americana: The opposite of why I love being Latina. Being Americana means that I have more choices and freedom. For example, here it’s ok to date 3 guys at one time and from any race or background! Abuela would give me that look of death if she heard me say this out loud.
My biggest challenge in growing up Latina in America: The biggest challenge for me was the inability to assimilate the American culture fully. I grew up in an Anglo neighborhood being the only Latina and always felt different. Many times that was uncomfortable, especially when my Puerto Rican parents did not allow me to do half of the things that my friends were allowed to do. They definitely had more freedom than I did. At the end of the day, I didn’t have much in common with my school mates. “La sangre llama.”My biggest support in growing up Latina in America: Definitely my family. Latino families are not always blood relatives, but it was that network of folks that kept me together. When we would get together, it was coming home.Why I am beautiful: Because I have a very rich heritage, because I am a mixture of 3 races, and because I love being Latina and it shows.