Growing up I didn’t realize how slightly different my family was to the ideal American family. Not until people would point it out, but we had our version of the American dream. We were a Salvadorian rooted family living in a predominantly white area so growing up I often faced a lot of self-hatred believing my culture and language were different from the “norm.” The pupusas my mom would pack for lunch would seem strange or even disgusting to those who weren’t accustomed to the Salvadoran cuisine. I became obsessed with who I wasn’t which only led to me hating who I was,I didn’t want my mom to speak in Spanish anymore,I wanted straight flat hair, I wanted to be “American.” I hurt my parents by doing that, the sadness in their eyes is something that i’ll never forgot and always be ashamed of. It wasn’t until I was older that I really began to see the beauty in my roots and I realized I was always “American.”
I can remember feeling different as a child. Anywhere I went, being looked at like a second class citizen. There was one instance, however, where my sentiments of feeling like a “foreigner” really engulfed me. Sixth grade in 2012, that was where my fears of being “different” thrived, I was eating by myself not knowing anyone yet,then, to my surprise, a boy and girl, both in my grade, waved their hands in the air insisting that I walked to their table. Thinking that I had the potential of making new friends, I gleefully made my way to the table making sure that my lunch stayed hidden in my backpack. They were popular with blonde hair and blue eyes. I approached them with a bit of caution and to my dismay, my insecurities became true. The boy handed me a green colored card and said,” Here, you’ll need this right ? You’re not really American, your family crossed the border.” And they laughed at me, they laughed at my culture, my roots, and on top of that they stereotyped the journey of my parents coming to America as crossing a “border.” All because of the color of my skin I was ashamed, embarrassed and rushed back to my table.
I thought that i would never be considered American and that I would never love my roots but, I’m happy to say that I was wrong. Fast forward two years and I was introduced to a community that was just like me boys and girls from Ecuador, El Salvador, Peru, and Guatemala, they all shared similarities to me. They would come up to me speaking “spanglish” slang they would eat tamales, empanadas, and pupusas with no shame. They talked about the World Cup causing arguments during lunch, It was a whole LatinX community, and I was so proud to be a part of it as they shared their culture, I began to appreciate my own and saw the true beauty of being a Latina. On top of that, people in social media and in the public started embracing their culture more than ever. people wanted to be different and show others to love who they were no matter what culture and that they shouldn’t be defined by prejudice and racist remarks by the uninformed. I then understood I was always American, but I was also Salvadorian, I had the best of both worlds.
I used to hate my roots and tried my best to avoid my family history and I didn’t realize the beauty of diversity and that hatred pointed at me and my family where by people even more insecure. I’m not just Salvadorian or American, I’m a mixture of both. Even though the journey to my confidence was anything but easy, I’m more than comfortable with who I am today and take full pride in being a Latina.