With National Hispanic Heritage Month on the horizon and An Exploration into identity
What am I? It’s one of the many questions we ask ourselves. Being biracial, it’s something I ask myself, too. Am I Mexican? Am I American? I don’t live in Mexico, but I still feel this cultural pull towards a homeland. I’m not gonna lie, it’s been hard to answer those questions for myself.
Just like everyone else, I’ve had to learn to live in my own skin. I come from a Mexican background, my mom is from Mazatlán, Mexico and my dad is from Wisconsin. My skin is tanned, one of my favorite foods is mole, and I say “la neta” (rough translation is “the truth” or “facts”) way too often.
But learning to live in your own skin is hard, and I’ve struggled.
When you grow up in that (multi-ethnic) environment, you see the world differently. Being a mixed-race child, I didn’t always see color in people, I really didn’t. It was other people that made me see the color all the time.Halle Berry
I was homeschooled until I was in third grade (shoutout to my mom) but when I entered public school and I told people I was Mexican, I would hear that phrase almost all biracial kids hear:
“You don’t look Mexican.”
This phrase would appear in many combinations and variations. “You act white” to “You don’t give me the Mexican vibe.” At the time, I didn’t think anything of it. I thought it was their problem. Looking back on it though, I’m like, do you want me in a sombrero and eating tamales??
And that was my struggle with my skin. How can I make you comfortable with who I am, this part of me I have no control over?
Time has passed, and I definitely think I’ve learned and grown so much over the years. Finally I reached a point when I just didn’t care, opinions of who I was just fell flat in front of me. And I remember when that happened.
I was in my mom’s hometown for my abuelito’s funeral, and it was the first time since I was a toddler that I was back in la patria.
Driving down the coast, Juan Gabriel on the radio and motos (motorcycles) trying to kill us all over the place. It’s absolutely terrifying to drive or be in a car in general. But then the buildings clear and you’re cruising down the road with the ocean at your side and it’s paradise down there, folks.
It was my two siblings, two cousins, two tías, and my abuela sitting down at the dining table. We just finished having breakfast, and we were chatting about the local life. My aunt turns to me and my siblings and says:
“You know you’re Mazatleco right?”
(Mazatleco means someone from Mazatlán, the same way Texan means someone from Texas)
In that moment, I felt so validated. I knew who I was: I was Mexicano, I was Mazatleco. I was all of those things, but I had always felt like I had to prove it. I still felt like I had to fight.
But that moment my tía said that, it was like a weight was lifted. I didn’t have to fight anymore.
Sometimes all it takes is one person, one interaction to make a difference in your identity or in your life. Since that day, I’ve been able to enjoy learning more about my culture, its music, and its heart without the inside imposter telling me otherwise.
And honestly, that’s the best way we can honor our culture, no matter which one we identify with. The constant curiosity of “What’s that?”, “How did that come about?”, “What does that mean?” allows us to go deeper, learn more, and not be complacent with the status quo.
That’s what this week’s playlist is all about. It’s about the music that makes us lose the weight. It’s about the music that helps us celebrate who we are. It’s about the music that helps us get ready to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. And finally, it’s about the music that helps us say:
I know who I am.
México en la Piel – Luis Miguel
Ok so obviously being Mexican I HAD to pick this absolute banger!! I seriously love this song so much, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my Mexican roots. It reminds me that I carry my heritage with me.
Valz (Esther) – Luis Rice
This one is an absolute gem. It was composed by my great grandfather Luis, and, get this, it’s a love song for his wife Esther. Seriously, so adorable. This piece of music has passed down through generations in my family and whenever I listen to it I just can’t help feeling the love.
Born This Way – Lady Gaga
I mean, if there was an anthem for being comfortable with who you are and not giving a f*** about anyone else, this is it! I wanted to include songs like these so if you’re not immediately preparing for Hispanic Heritage Month, you can still join in on the good vibes.