Culture, Heritage and Identity

I don’t think I have ever been more proud of my Mexican heritage than I am now.

I can only remember getting teased for two things in my life and one of them was being called a, “White Mexican”— there are probably more but they obviously haven’t stuck with me, so, I can pretend they didn't happen. In elementary and junior high school, I was teased not for being dark, but for being lighter, white, pale.

If you did not know, my parents are as Mexican as can be. Even with that being true, as a child I did not classify people according to their race or skin color. In my innocent brain I did not know what the lack dark skin had to do with who I was, or what race I was. I was not Mexican because I was dark, I was Mexican because my parents were born and raised there.

When kindergarten rolled around, I became friends with those who sat at my table and all my other friendships flourished from there. When junior high came around, it just so happened that out of all of my friends only two of us were of Hispanic decent. I don’t know why, but a clique of Hispanics formed in 6th grade and I was left out of it. Next, came me being called an, "inside out Oreo" because I was brown, which translated to Mexican, on the inside and white on the outside. And on September 16th (Mexican Independence Day), I was left out of the Mexican flag waving on Grand Ave during recess.

It was in junior high where I felt disowned by my heritage and although I never was ashamed of it, I never embraced it. I stayed as far away as I could from “being a Mexican”, whatever that meant. Occasionally on the weekends and at family parties I’d enjoyed Mexican culture, but that was it.

In High school, the chasm grew wider. There was no bullying then, but there was separation. I was not in the group of friends you expected me to be if you heard that I was Mexican. Once you saw me you understood why I wasn't in the "Mexican crowd". The blonde hair and light skin fooled most, and it was my brown eyes who gave me away at times. At home, my parent's parenting philosophies from a small ranch/farm town in the middle of Mexico, were not transferring well to suburban America. The tension at home grew and the blame always fell on being Mexican.

Fast forward a few years.

I’m not really sure where my love from my Mexican-ness began. It could’ve been an accumulated explosion 21 years in the making. It could’ve also been a slow gradual process of self discovery. But I am sure that I can attribute my new found love for my Mexican heritage to the LORD. Don't shut me out now just became I mentioned Jesus, please hear what I have to say.

I was a mess most of my life. I’ll explain this in relation to being Mexican. I let people tell me who I should be. So, when they said I wasn’t a true Mexican, I took their word for it. Anything related to Mexican culture I acknowledged it with a nod then I shrugged it off as not pertaining to me. In my mind, my family was Mexican, I was not.

So, Jesus saw as a confused 18 year old girl who was letting everyone define her, and one day I finally let Him change that. As He held me on my most broken nights, His heartbeat became a sweet unending song. Sometimes the beat was strong and mighty, other times it was as faint as a whisper. As, the song became more familiar to me, it held more and more meaning.

What the LORD yearns to speak over each one of us, is who we are because of Him.

And He sang this song.

He created me. He has a plan for me. He thought about everything before I was born. He chose which family I was born into. He picked my hair, skin, and eye color. He picked my heritage. Everything was set in place BEFORE I was born.

So, the fact that someone said I wasn’t Mexican no longer holds sway in my life.

I have spent the last 3 years unlearning what I thought I knew about myself and learning for the first time who God created me to be.

Honestly, I ran into the “why” problem many times. Why am I so emotional? Why I do I talk so fast? Why was I born Mexican, engrained with Mexican culture, and why do speak the language fluently?

Why? Why? Why?

For His glory, that is why! There is a whole group of people that have my heart because we share a culture and a language. There is a group of women marginalized by society that are weeping due to miss-used power and expectations of abuse. There is a group of teens with a dichotomy set before them of teen parenting or drugs. There is a group of men confused to what it means to be a man. Who can reach them but one of them?

Plus, Mexican culture is one of the coolest things around. I mean, who doesn't love homemade Mexican food every night and almost suffocating family ties? Who would say that learning to ride a horse at age zero and a hundred cousins is bad?

Now, I absorb every speck of Mexican culture that I missed or shrugged off before, and am loving every single moment of it. That doesn’t mean I am at bailes every weekend, or that I'm in a Durangenuse band, or even that I am at a ranch every waking moment but that's okay. Now, I no longer blame my culture for my lack of identity. Instead, I take my identity from Christ, and who he made me to be.


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