We’re Mexican, Really

alec wearing mask

My 1st grader and I had an interesting conversation recently. He held up an indigenous Mexican mask he made at school and said, “Look at me. I’m Mexican.”

I looked at my son and said, “You don’t need to wear a mask to be Mexican. You are Mexican! All the time.”

It really threw me. I thought we had this down. Nana and Papi are Mexican-American, which makes me Mexican, which then makes him half Mexican. But he’s 7-years-old and often when I start talking I think all he hears is “wah, wah, wah, wah.”

I have been thinking about what it means to be Mexican-American for our family for quite some time. I struggle with how to keep our culture alive when we live one state away from my family and my Spanish is so bad. I want him to know how special and how truly great it is to have our Mexican heritage.

It would probably help him identify with being Latino if I or he or his brother looked the slightest bit Mexican, but we don’t. I’m often the whitest person in a room full of white people, while my 1st grader has blonde hair and blue eyes. When I mention to people that I’m Mexican-American they often say, “Really??” Yes, really. But the way we look doesn’t make us any less Latino, in my opinion.

All of those issues combined does mean that I need to try harder to bring our culture into our lives. And I’m going to start now.

I wrote this post as part of Bicultural Mom’s Multicultural Awareness Blog Carnival. You can find links to other posts Monday, May 2 on Bicultural Mom.

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Comments: 5

  1. Chantilly Patiño April 29, 2011 at 11:03 pm Reply

    Yvonne, I hear you. This is a hard struggle and when you’re so far from all things Latino it can be even harder. We live in the Midwest and neither my husband or I are fluent. We struggle every day with Spanish, with helping our daughter to be exposed to Mexican culture and to give her confidence to flourish as a Latina. Right now we’ve been lucky that she is only two and there is still so much time to build that impression, but I get nervous too, about when she gets older and if she will question her heritage or her identity. I think it’s great that you are making a conscious effort to include more, especially when it’s so easy for everyone else to lump you into the “white” category. I have felt many times, like just taking off to live in Mexico for a few months just to become fluent! It is such an important way to connect with the culture…essential really.

    Thanks for your contribution to the multicultural awareness carnival. Your story really hits home with me. <3

  2. Tara May 3, 2011 at 2:54 am Reply

    Enjoyed your post. I can relate as well. One day my son told me they were learning about Mexico and going to have a fiesta. I asked him what they were going to do. He told me he didn’t know. I said, “maybe you will hit a pinata, or listen to music from mexico.” He asked,”do you think the mexican man will come?” I asked,”who is the mexican man?” He replied, “the man from mexico” I told him, “son! Your DAD is the mexican man! He’s from Mexico! You see him every day!”
    It was funny. I think now that he is older he is understanding more and more…
    Great post!

  3. Yvonne Condes May 3, 2011 at 4:16 pm Reply

    Tara, that is hilarious!!
    Chantilly, thank you for sharing this. I found it hard when I lived in the midwest, too. I was the only latina that my friends there knew. But you’re doing an amazing job and this carnival is proof of that !!

  4. Chantilly Patiño May 5, 2011 at 4:25 am Reply

    Lol…Tara, that is funny. :) Thanks for the encouragement Yvonne! =)

  5. April May 6, 2011 at 11:09 pm Reply

    Sylvia and Riley have both been accused of not being Mexican because they don’t look the stereotype…and this is by other Hispanic children, mind you!

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