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Honoring our Hispanic heritage has been a long, winding road

Honoring our Hispanic heritage has been a long, winding road

Honoring our Hispanic heritage has been a long, winding road
September 25
18:57 2019

The term Hispanic can be broad and confusing. It is often mixed up with the the other label, Latino, but both have different meanings.

Hispanics are descended from Spanish-speaking countries. This means Spaniards are considered Hispanic while Brazilians are not. Latinos are people that come from Latin America so in that context, Brazilians are Latinos while Spaniards are not.

Megan

Growing up Hispanic has been an interesting experience. My father is from El Salvador and my mother is Mexican American, but neither parent really pushed my heritage on me like other Latino parents have done to their children. I was not taught Spanish because they allowed me to choose what language I wanted to learn. 

We have a small family, and not the stereotypical “50 cousins.” We never celebrated Cinco de Mayo, Dia de Los Muertos, Ash Wednesday or other events that you typically see Hispanics do. I always questioned if I was “Hispanic’ enough. Yes, I have the pigmentation, but Hispanics can also have light skin. My last name is the only other thing I felt that could “validate” me being Hispanic. It was not until I met more Hispanics like me, who did not speak Spanish and did not celebrate those holidays when I finally felt like I was not the only one. 

Given this, when I now reflect on what my heritage means to me, it means seeing how much we value our family and how hard we work. It does not matter what your family member did to make you mad, but you better have their back and support them especially when times get tough. My heritage is carrying on our traditions and being proud of where we came from and not taking what we have for granted. The best advice I have received from my parents is to not forget where I came from. 

I know for a fact that what has been implemented into every Hispanic household is to be as educated as we can. Many families left their homeland in order for their children to have the best opportunities, and when we earn our diplomas or degrees, we know by their smile that we made their sacrifice worth it.

The best part of being Hispanic is definitely being raised on how to work hard for everything we want because it will never be handed to us. We know how it feels to be knocked down and for every door to shut, and we will work two or three jobs to make sure that we have everything we need in order to provide for our family. We always rise back up, and that has been the best part of being Hispanic.

Adrian

Hispanics are a diverse group of people. We are mixed people who can be white, black or mestizo. I am Hispanic but I can only speak from a Mexican point of view.

Growing up as a Mexican-American, I was taught by family about the importance of unity. I was taught the love of food and the passion of Mexicans expressing ourselves through music and dance. Religion also plays a huge role in my life because to a lot of Hispanics and Hispanic cultures, God is a way to have a strong foundation in life.

However, growing up I felt a sense of shame. I was a Mexican-American that didn’t speak Spanish. Those in the know understand that being a Mexican-American in America is hard enough. Sometimes you feel like you’re never Mexican enough and sometimes you never feel American enough. If a Mexican doesn’t speak Spanish, they are referred to as a “gringo” and aren’t considered Mexican at all.

I struggled with my cultural identity throughout my childhood. My experiences of encountering Mexicans from Mexico who all gave me the omniscient smirk and asked me, “Porque no hablas espanol?” gave me a sense of resentment toward the people of my culture. Resentment ultimately led to a sense of apathy. I just considered myself an American who happened to be of Mexican descent. Looking back at it, I was wrong to carry that mindset.

I was acting like the biggest part of me didn’t exist. I wasn’t acknowledging my grandparents who immigrated from Mexico on my dad’s side to build a better life for their kids. I was dismissing that my grandmother on my mom’s side who came here with nothing and raised a family here. It took for me to go to England where there was absolutely no representation of Hispanic people to appreciate who I was. When people look at me, they’ll see a Mexican. They’ll see a Hispanic or Latino. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s who I am.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time for representation of my people. Hispanic heritage month reminds me that though Hispanics all have different customs, we all tie back to one [o;story. And we should be proud of who we are, regardless of color or nationality.

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

About Author

Adrian Maldonado

Adrian Maldonado

Megan Hernandez

Megan Hernandez

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