A Journey of Self-Acceptance
My parents immigrated from Argentina to the United States when I was three years old. Growing up in a small town only fifteen minutes away from the Mexican border, there was no shortage of Hispanics. Since at the time most of the people there were of Central American heritage, moving to Reading was a huge culture shock. Around that time is when I began to notice that I was different than other Hispanics. Before people had been intrigued whenever I spoke Spanish, but to the kids in my new second-grade class, I was weird. Little by little I began hiding parts of myself, fixing my mannerisms, changing my accent to fit into this new world I was living in.
Things were good for a while but as I grew older and became more aware of certain things, I started feeling like I wasn’t “enough”. Having very light skin, hazel eyes and light brown hair causes many to assume I’m American and hearing me speak English almost seems to enforce that thought. Though I’m very intact with my culture, not identifying as a person of color made me believe my experiences as a Latina were less valid.
Eventually, I had to realize that I wouldn’t be able to squeeze myself into labels and that it was okay. There isn’t only one definition of what it means to be Hispanic. Though it hasn’t been easy, I am proud to say that I have now found peace.
By Joana Belza