Who are we really? – A poem by Ivana Who are we really?
What kind of identity problems are we facing?
We can crave McDonald’s fries and hamburgers and our mother’s sancocho, tamales, arepas, pupusas, ceviche, arroz con frijoles, and alfajores at the same time.
We sing to country music and love rap but also listen to reggaeton, salsa, banda, bachata, merengue, and even do Zumba to maintain our culture.
Here in the US, we’re all just Latinos. We’re not where we’re from exactly, we’re all the same on the Census.
We are Ecuadorians in Minneapolis, Mexicans from Los Angeles to Kansas City to Cincinnati to Boston, Peruvians from Phoenix, Cubans from Miami and Not Miami, Colombians from Nashville, Nicaraguans in Seattle, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans in New York.
We are separate and we are all together.
We are the diversity factor at colleges. We are a growing population, we are strong and resilient, learning from our parents and our grandparents language barriers, long distance families on crackling Skype screens and scratchy calls.
We are the workers in hotels, in restaurants, in cleaning services, in laundromats, the business owners, the teachers, the community leaders, the students, the youth empowerers, the fighters for education.
We are those who know of the importance of our education, something which our abuelos and tios and all our family reminds us of.
We are the flickering candlelight with the Virgen Maria and Jesucristo, we are the ones that go to church with our mamas and learn the Credo, the Padre Nuestro.
We are the ones who speak Slanglish, Spanglish, and Oxford Dictionary English. We are the ones who live our lives with slang. “Go cachar el bus!” “Necesito walkear al post office”
We are the quinceañeras, the primera comuniones, the confirmaciones, the posadas, the singing of villancicos and aguinaldos, the tamaladas, the parrandas, the Día de los Reyes Magos, the eating of the Rosca de Reyes.
We are the ones who go to school in all English, but speak Spanish at home. Or those who understand Spanish, or try to learn it to connect back to their homeland. We are the ones who may know the culture but not the language, and that’s perfectly okay.
We are the ones who may have generations of family here, or just arrived. We are here whether we came across borders, went on ships, planes, or cars. We came here because it was a land of opportunities, it was our only choice, or because of family. We came here for many reasons, but at the end of the day we are all here.
We all are here. We all unite with our language, with overlaps in culture. We are the ones who share our culture with each other, who’ve learned from each other. We are all trying to maintain culture here, trying to stay connected with our roots.
We are all here.
We are all working to be part of two worlds.
We are all here.
We are all living our lives here in the US.
We are all here.
That is who we are. We are not defined by our separate cultures, but our unity. We are unified by our place, and how we adapt to live in it. We are unified by this country. We are defined by our own wills and our hard work. We are here. We have dreams, plans, efforts, successes, failures. We are here.
We are raised by this country, we are part of it, we are proud of it. We are proud of our heritage. We are the star and stripes as much as we are the deserts, the beautiful oceans, the Caribbean, the Andes, the Patagonia, the Amazon, the hot sun and the cold snow. We are the mixture of all these things, and we are proud to say that.
Who are we really?
We are united through our differences.
We are education fighters, we are community organizers.
We care about where we came from, and where we are.
We speak many languages but we all share our culture of family, of music, of foods with each other. We grow from this sharing.
We are each other. We are powerful through our connections.
We are Latinos, in America. Or Hispanics, or Chicanos, or whatever you prefer to call yourself.
We are American. And something else. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
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