Monday, March 3, 2014

The Confessions of a 1/2 Puerto Rican, 1/2 Salvadoran [Born in the U.S.A.]

[Note: I started writing this blog post in December 2013 while on vacation in Puerto Rico]

I am currently laying on a hammock here in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico listening to the waves crash against the sandy white shore. The wind is whipping my curly hair across my face and I'm constantly having to tuck it behind my ears. The air is sweet, salty, and humid. I am in paradise. I am in the land that my half of my descendants hail from. The land that [one set of my] grandparents toiled, in hopes of going to the mainland one day. 

Yep, that's really me in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
where I started writing the blog post on a legal pad.

Over the course of the years I have read many articles about the challenges and blessings mixed race individuals face, but I have not read many about those who are mixed ethnicities within one race.

These are MY confessions.
 
I am sure that my "struggle" began when I was a child, but my memory is failing me and I can only vividly remember it starting in my high school (HS) years. During my high school years [between 1998-2001; yep, I did HS in 3 years, but we'll save that story for another time], we would celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by having a Hispanic Assembly [in private Christian schools, it's called "chapel"]. Every time the Hispanic Chapel would roll around I would feel conflicted on which country I would represent that year. 99.9% of the Hispanics in my HS hailed from only one country and of course it was a no brainer for them on what country flag they would parade in with. For me? It was a struggle. I remember one year walking in with the Salvadoran students and the Puerto Rican students asking "why" and vice versa for other years. It was never just a given on what country I would represent in any given year, but always a thought out process. Sounds silly, but trust me, it does something to you.

There have been times when I have never felt Boricua or Guanaca enough for some because I don't have the country's accent when I speak and do not know all of the slang; my Spanish is kind of rough [I can defend myself in Spanish but I don't sound like Maria Elena Salinas or anyone like that]; and I was not born in El Salvador or Puerto Rico [fun fact: I lived in PR for approximately 2 years].
I feel like I do not belong most of the time and people affirm that constantly. You're probably thinking, "This girl is being dramatic." No, I'm not. To give you just one example: I've had friends introduce people in a room by name and where they are from and whenever they get to me it's like, "Oh, she's from everywhere" and continue to the next person. Haha! I guess it's too much for some to say, "She's of Puerto Rican AND Salvadoran descent, but was born here in the U.S.A."  

Since these are MY confessions I will share this too; over the past few years I have identified more with one ethnicity than the other [cue the eye roll and ill feelings from some]. Do not get me wrong, I will be of Salvadoran and Puerto Rican descent until the day I die but it's just hard to explain. Maybe one day I will be more candid about this topic, but for now I will not. 

Even though I am not mixed racially, sometimes I feel like I am because the Caribbean and Central American cultures are polar opposites. Some non-Hispanics think just because I'm a Latina mixed with two ethnicities it is the same as just being 1 ethnicity or race. Not at all. Sure, the Spanish language [not slang] is the same, but like I said, the cultures are completely different. One of my lifelong projects is to delve deeper [with actual research] into the two cultures to learn more about why some things are the way they are. 

Anyways, I know that there is at least one other person out there who fully understands this and can relate. If you can relate, I'd be interested to hear about how you deal with it.    

5 comments:

  1. I loved reading this. I've actually been thinking about this topic a lot lately. I imagine Nelson, half-Dominican/half-Salvadorian, maybe could relate to this more than me, but being half-American/half-Venezuelan I can relate to a certain degree as well. I could really relate when you said that there have been times where you don't feel Boricua or Guanaca enough. I grew up with my mom, who is the American one (I have issues with the term "American" too, but that's another long discussion. Lol) because my parents divorced when I was really young. So after that point I didn't grow up speaking Spanish and basically grew up as a white American, a "gringa", but was always proud of my Hispanic heritage. I wanted to learn more about it, and really wanted to learn Spanish. It wasn't until college that I really started to learn Spanish and had the opportunity to learn more about my Venezuelan heritage (that was the first time I'd ever met anyone else besides my family that was Venezuelan), so there's always a part of me that feels either not "Venezuelan enough" or "Hispanic enough" for "real" Venezuelans/Hispanics (of course, who determines that, anyway?). I know often times people who are multiracial/multiethnic feel like they never belong in either race/ethnicity, so because I grew up more so in the white American culture I guess that concept doesn't completely apply to me because I do "feel" like a white American, if that makes sense; I don't know if I'm describing it well. (It's all so abstract and hard to put into words, at least for me.) But even though I haven't had that same exact struggle, I have felt that tension, that feeling of, "What am I?"

    I suppose that, even though it still bothers me to an extent, it's not as much as it used to, now that I've learned more Spanish and have learned more about my heritage. I don't know if it's because now I feel like more of someone would be considered a "real" Hispanic because of those two things. But as I've gotten older I've really begun embracing all aspects of my heritage, not just one side or the other.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing, Anissa. :) Great post!

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  2. I'm Salvadoran and Puerto rican to ❤️❤️❤️

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  3. I am salvadorean and my girl friend is dominican she black but not that black is like coffe mixee with milk jaja :)

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  4. I'll review this blog as An and it demonstrates how much exertion has been put into this.Joseph Hayon

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  5. Hehehehe... I embrace my "a lil' bit of everthing"ness

    Born in Honduras, grew up in Panama, lived 5 year in Costa Rica
    Father is from Panama, Mom is from Belize (my sister was born there too).
    Grandparents from Jamaica, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama.
    I live in Miami
    Married to my wife from Paraguay but her parents are from Uruguay and her sister from Argentina.

    So when they ask me: "Where are you from?"
    I say: "The United Nations"
    -"Where is that?"
    -"Aaam, THE WORLD"

    Jajajajaj (how latinos laugh on keyboards)

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