This I Believe

Jesus - San Ysidro, California
Entered on May 8, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: immigrant

Being Proud of Who You Are

And Offering It to the American Culture

As a young American child in kindergarten, I remember learning how to recite the “The Pledge of Allegiance”. That same year my teacher thought it was best for me to change my name from Jesus to Jessie because it was too sacred to be named after the son of God. As I got older, I remember watching movies such as Rocky, where he beats the strong empowered Black man and the physically more muscular Russian, or Rambo where he kills endless Communist soldiers with his enormous weapons, and American Ninja where he is the only American ninja and against all odds kills all the Chinese ninjas. At the same time, I was in school learning and admiring courageous leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln. I was proud to be an American, we always won no matter who was our enemy. Until the day I realized I was not a “true” American.

I was wearing my American flag shirt on Fourth of July at the park when another white kid said his dad told him that Mexicans are not real Americans. Since then I have felt as if I was only a visitor in this land of freedom. I am a different American because my parents are Mexican immigrants. That is when I started to raise the Mexican flag. I remember watching the Mexican national soccer team with my Mexican flag in my right hand and in my left hand a hot dog with ketchup and mustard. When I raise my Mexican flag with pride I am acknowledging my struggle, my history, and my triumph as an American. As an American, I acknowledge the fruits of this nation and the opportunities it offers to those who seek happiness.

As I read a newspaper or watch the news, I see a lot of debate over the immigration bill and those protesting. Even though the immigration bill is the core issue, the American public still has time to make a public outrage over immigrants carrying their native flags. Bold statements such as “if they are raising their native flag and so loyal to their country then they should go back”. I believe that every person regardless of age, sex, class, legal status in this country has the right to express themselves being it is the land of the free. As a Chicano living in the United States, I know that I am living the American dream that my parents searched for themselves and their children. Therefore, does that mean that we need to forget our past history and fully assimilate into the American culture? Am I wrong if I rather eat some tacos de carne asada con guacamole instead of hot dogs with ketchup and mustard? This has made me a member of a different American generation, children of Mexican immigrants that are contributing to the progression of American society.