This post comes as a result of growing up a light skinned Mexican American and after many conversations with close friends and family members of similar heritage. When #blacklivesmatter started trending, I set out to understand the struggles of African Americans and figure out what I could do to help. I was surprised to see that in some documentaries and articles, the black and brown struggle were grouped into the same plight.
My initial thought was that I had never experienced anything like the stories in the media and that this has got to be some giant mistake. Truthfully a part of me still feels this way. For example, I do not have the same fears as I am raising my Mexican American boys as some of my friends do who are raising young African American boys. To those women and their families, know that I stand with you.
Upon discussing things with my three sisters, two of which are blonde, we all came to the same conclusion. We had in fact each experienced some sort of racial discrimination at one time or another. The sad truth however, was that it was only ever at the whim of other Mexican Americans. To quote the movie Selena, “we have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans,” and it really is exhausting.
My sisters and I are only second generation Americans. By that I mean that my mother is a citizen by birthright, because my grandparents happened to be in Texas working in the cotton fields when she was born. I thank my lucky stars every day to be American, but I am equally as grateful for my heritage.
I will no longer let someone who thinks I don’t fit into their image of what a Mexican American should be steal my pride. I am a light skinned second generation proudly forging my own American dream. To all minorities, it is my belief that we were born to bravely stand together, for our voices will always be louder together than as one.
XO – Olivia