I have always lived in California. This is my state and I have always felt that this is my home… I was blessed to be born by immigrants that though coming to this country they hoped to have a better life for themselves and their children.
Everyone wants the “American” dream but at what cost? My parents had to endure spits, mockery, rudeness and other disrespectful actions from people that they were employed by. I understand that being here illegally isn’t the “correct” way. There are legal steps that everyone should take.
This post isn’t about illegal entry or how immigrants are taken for granted or even how they are disrespected by people. This is a post about a United States Citizen that because of the color of her skin she got treated as if she were and illegal. Maybe in some instances worse because she didn’t fit in the “American” world nor the “Hispanic” world.
Growing up in South Los Angeles (for those that know South LA know that this is one of the worst city to grow up in LA), was pretty normal. I didn’t feel like an “outsider” at school because most kids my age were the same skin color as me and were born here. Unfortunately we still face discrimination.. You would think being in our “Native” environment; HOW could we still be discriminated..
Well let me put it simply, we didn’t have to worry about school because that’s not where it came from. It came from our own relatives home. Having cousins older then me and were here illegally got me into the “being bullied” category. See most of my cousins are way older then me. There is only one or two of us at that are the same age. Our older cousins when in family events (which were almost every weekend) would tell us that we were coconuts (yes it still applies to us), we were not real Chapines (a slang term you call a per that both parents are from Guatemala) or GuateMex (for those that had parents from Mexico and Guatemala). I was a chapina (what I considered myself proudly) but in the family events for my cousins I was a plain old coconut. My sisters literally stayed by my side the whole time (not only because it was our parents standard rule) but because I have one cousin that would hit me constantly and bully me.
Now not only did I eventually hate going to family events but then I would hear snippets of conversations from the adults about how the ones that grew up here as babies (thats including the ones born outside of USA but came here illegally when they were babies or toddlers) we wont know our culture and we would be lost children because we wont be able to identify with our roots. We would probably lose our respect for our culture and not want to marry with our “own” race was also pretty damn hurtful. But to top it off…
There came a time when the “Move” came. My father bought a business and we moved to a different school district and then residence. It would have been great if it was another Hispanic community… Of course it wasn’t, at the time I switch schools Asians and Whites were the predominant races in my school district.
You would never guess what I got asked the first day that I attended my 3rd grade (yes I said THIRD GRADE) class. I got asked what gang was I in (since I come from South Los Angeles) and if I was scared that Immigration would come and take my family and me away back to Mexico ( like I said before my parents are from Guatemala). Of course sitting there in shock I didn’t know how to respond and the teacher bless her heart (or maybe she should have said something?) just ignored the question and asked me what were my favorite subjects.
From there on out up until High School (yes ALL my academic school career) I got teased and bullied about being an alien, wetbag, beaner, etc. Of course I would feel bad and tell my mom (not my dad cause I feared that in his anger he would want to go kill those kids and their parents) and she would tell me to let it go. She would tell me that I was born here and all of my family (Dad, Her and my two sisters) were now legal and had nothing to worry about. That they were ignorant children that were just mimicking what their parents taught them.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I never felt like I fitted into my Hispanic or American culture. Even though my parents didn’t raise us with either despite the families disapproving grumbles. They raised us to believe in God and to treat others with respect. To have a career and just be a good citizen and not get involved with anything illegal. Now that I am with my spouse and are planning to have children I have started to think at how life now can effect my children..
Some of my husband family members have told us on different occasion (I’m sure with no bad intention on their part) that having mixed kids is not a good idea. That most mixed kids aren’t treated the same (by the Indian culture), they might be confused about their identity and not know what culture to follow; which by the way reminds me of my fathers family.
My family (meaning dad, mom and sisters NOT RELATIVES) I know will accept our children, I already have a White brother in law and 3 Handsome nephews that are so adorable. They don’t seem to have a problem with their identity nor who they are. They know they are mixed but they associate better with the American culture then Hispanic because my sister was okay with that and didn’t feel the pressure to teach them the Hispanic culture. Maybe in a way she probably heard some of those snippets too. They have been bullied at school because their mother is not White since they live in a predominant White community. But it doesn’t seem like its affecting them in a negative matter. It might hurt them but just as I; they have learned that words are just words and you eventually move on. They actually are more open to accepting people of different lifestyles into their homes and lives and I truly love them more for that.
I doubt society will break all of these stereotypes that are out there. I doubt that our children will live in an Indian or Hispanic community (we want them in a safe environment with the best school if its in that community great and if not thats okay too) and even if they are they will still have three mixtures in them. Pakistani, Guatemalan and American ( in no specific order), but in the end we will do our best to teach them that people are hurtful and stupid (lets face it racism isn’t ignorance in this millennium its stupidity). We will teach them that they belong to Allah (SWT) and to go the path that he created for them. He is the only one to judge him and he will always accept them as they are because he was the one that made them.
In the end I hope to teach our children to learn how to accept themselves and be proud of the mixture of beautiful races that they are. If Allah (SWT) didn’t want them to be then they wouldn’t have been chosen to walk this earth. They are the miracles and examples that the stupid racist need to learn from not the other way around.
I hope that even though I grew up with racism in the 80’s and 90’s (lets face it not as bad as before though) I know my children will to. In the end we will do our best to teach them how to survive this racist world.
Until Next Time,