By Barbara Lopez, Manager
My Latina experience looks very much like everyone else’s. Spanish is my first language and family comes above all else, with food a close second. My big, Latin family instilled in me the notion that everything I have or will have in life, I need to work for. I wouldn’t trade the excruciatingly long happy birthday songs or the extremely nosey family members for anything else in the world. I am who I am because I am Venezuelan.
My American experience, however, may be a bit different from other Latinas. My parents are first generation Venezuelans. My paternal grandparents were from Spain and my maternal grandparents are from Italy. As a result, I do not look like your average Latina.
Members of the Latinx community tend to avoid associating themselves with a specific race, yet we oftentimes see our community generalized into common negative stereotypes. For me, growing up here was easy. I am very aware of the privilege I have because of the way I look. I never once had to worry that I wasn’t going to get an opportunity or be looked down upon because of who I am. I have never had someone second-guess my citizenship or my right to be in this country. Most of my acquaintances growing up probably don’t know, to this day, that I didn’t become a U.S. citizen until I was in high school.
I am constantly in an internal battle with myself over my identity. Am I Latina enough? Am I American enough? Should I feel bad that I prefer an empanada to a PB&J sandwich, but rather listen to country music than to reggaeton?
I often overhear someone talk negatively about me in Spanish, not knowing I could understand. At the same time, people’s attitudes towards me have changed the moment they find out I wasn’t born in this country. But in a time where many may feel like the America we live in isn’t the America we love, I can still honestly tell you that I also am who I am because I am American.