What I love about being Latina: The ability to travel to other countries and feel like a world citizen because of my knowledge of more than one culture and the ability to identify, to some extent, with the large Hispanic immigrant population in the U.S. I also love the overflowing energy and deep family roots and pride that my Cuban relatives show and have instilled in me. When growing up, I loved the transition of leaving snowy Michigan at Christmas to road trip down to Miami and experience the fake frost sprayed on cars and the Santas on top of tile roofs and pastel buildings. I loved falling asleep in my abuela’s home to the Latin music playing outside and thinking the striking thought, “I belong here.”
What I love about being Americana: I love that I also feel like I belong at the large family reunions held every summer in Ohio with my mother’s family. I love the homemade ice cream, the potluck dinners, and the games of Scrabble. I love that I have grown up with the belief that I can play any sport, go to any university, and accept any job just as well as my brother can. I feel blessed for the opportunities and advantages that growing up in the United States has offered.
My biggest challenge in growing up Latina in America: Feeling insecure that I don’t know Spanish as fluently as some of my cousins and feeling like an imposture when people found out my background and exposed that I didn’t speak Spanish fluently.
My biggest support in growing up Latina in America: My parents have never stressed one cultural background over the other. They encouraged me to explore both sides of my family and to become the beautiful blend that I could be. I never thought of myself as “growing up Latina.” When I did discover I was different than my peers because of my background, and when I felt uncomfortable about it, I would visit my Cuban aunts, who I highly respect and look up to for their beauty, strength, and intelligence. They, as well as my parents, have supported me the most by believing in me as a Latina as well as an Americana.
Why I am beautiful: I am beautiful because of the family values, the love of different cultures, and the self-confidence I have because of my loving parents and my family that reaches from the island of Cuba to the state of Ohio. I am beautiful because of how my heritage’s past has connected to form my diverse present and for the power I have to continue my bicultural identity and family history into a grounded future with my own children.