Being a “Chicana”
I rarely think of what identifies me as a person in life. I usually just think of me as a person. However, I recently came to the realization that I am more than just Marisol Uribe. Last month during a scheduled prenatal control visit, the nurse handed me a form I had to fill out. This was the event that made me believe that everyone has a special story that defines who they are. In my case, a small box on a medical form and the mark I made on it revealed the answer of who I believe I am.
I have done this process many times during my life. I started by filling in my last name, my date of birth, my place of birth. Everything was going well until I got to the next question about “ethnicity.” I read the choices “American Indian,” “Asian or Pacific Islander,” “Black, Non-Hispanic,” “Hispanic,” “White, Non-Hispanic,” and “Other.”
I was ready to check off “Hispanic,” which is my conditioned response to that question. However, this time, I stopped to think about the significance of that question. I was sitting at the doctor’s office getting ready to complete a prenatal check up and then it struck me, my child will have to answer that question one day. At that moment, I thought of what I could say to him or her when that question comes up.
The sound of my last name will indicate Hispanic, but I believe I am more than that. Yes, my parents were born in Mexico, but I was born in East L.A. I love Mexican food, but I also enjoy eating hamburgers. I love Mariachi music, but I rocked during the 80’s. I went to Mexico for the first time when I was five and I loved it, but all I had known by that time were the sometimes loud streets of East L.A. I was not scared of Arturo, a well known “Cholo” who would address my older cousins by asking them “What’s your story?” I belonged there. I was able to see the beauty of a sunset in East L.A. As a little girl, I was amazed by the glittering rays that came out of the diamonds that paved the streets. I did not mind the low-riders. I just loved the shiny road.
All the memories I had of my childhood directed me to two different cultures. I identified myself with two different life experiences, two different languages, and two perceptions of life.
As I debated with myself on what box to check, my cell phone rang. I was quick to answer it so people would not be bothered by the “Star Spangled Banner” ring tone that characterizes my cell phone. I opened it. There, I saw a picture of “The Virgin of Guadalupe,” which I take everywhere with me since I learned how to change the wallpaper in my cell. I answered my phone. It was Carlos, “Mi Husband.” I thought of that phrase. Right then and there, I realized that I was not “Hispanic.” I realized I am a “Chicana.” I believe that even though sometimes labels carry negative connotations, I must be proud of my roots, and most importantly, my children must be proud of theirs.
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