One month dedicated to one background is not enough to be able to take in and process everything that goes into being Hispanic. Granted, it envelopes all cultures around Spain, Mexico, Argentina, etc. yet there are so many more aspects that are often lost in translation. The month does recognize cultural celebrations and brings awareness to the heritage (obviously), but what about the people directly inside the communities? I’m not talking about congratulating the street performers after the parades. I’m talking about the people who have to wake up every day and live their Hispanic culture.
Trigger Warning: There is stereotyping, discrimination, and patriarchial descriptions. Please continue if you feel as if you are in a safe place mentally. If not, please find someone you trust to accompany you before reading. “I started noticing my heritage around Freshman year of high school,” said Katy Tapia, ASU junior. “I would wake up at 6 am, go to school early to study, go to class, ride the bus home, and then do homework until dinner.”
Tapia calls Tucson, Arizona home. Attending four full years until graduation from Sabino High School in 2018, Tapia was an active member of the tennis team from 2016-2018 while attending Young Life (religious organization) throughout high school on the side. In addition to her extra-curricular activities, she was helping out around the house with cooking, cleaning, and taking care of extra chores for her mother. Machismo is defined as “strong or masculine pride.” This is very apparent in Latinx households, granting the male figure ruling rights of the house. They take care of discipline, ensuring the men stay masculine, and take care of the family financially. Essentially, they practice what would be considered the opposite of feminism. While men and women are mostly equal in today’s world, many cultures still see women as less than or as figures only used for pleasure. Tapia describes, “My family was patriarchal and misogynistic. With my mom, sister, and I not being able to eat until the men had finished, cooking every meal everyday, cleaning the house,” then continues on, “We took care of everything at home so the men didn’t have to. The worst part is that my mother coincided, so I was defenseless when it came to standing up for myself when I was planning my future in college.”
As we know, stereotypes are all around whether we can avoid it or not. Every background has them and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Katy stands at 5 feet and a couple of inches tall, so being a short woman is already hard enough. Imagine being Latina and having people assume you always have “fire” and “spice” when it comes to her emotions.
“I just wanted people to listen to me when I was mad because they all assumed that I was ‘firey’ or ‘spicy’ rather than hearing what I had to say. Yes, I am short. Yes, I am Latina. But my physical features shouldn’t be a determining factor in interpreting what goes on in my head.” said Tapia. Katy mentioned having troubles controlling her anger when she was younger but isn’t everyone mad when they’re younger? Whether it be someone stealing a toy, calling us names, or saying they didn’t like our outfit; in my opinion, it is bound to happen.
Respawning to modern times. Nowadays, women are accomplishing just as much as men, if not more. In a “machisimo” household, the men are deemed superior and women have to remain innocent, dainty, and modest, but Tapia dreams of much more.
“I want to major in Psychology with a focus in Latinx cultures. I just feel like to be a therapist with a focus in something, you have to relate. Growing up in a patriarchal AND matriarchal home, I can relate on both ends of the spectrum of what people may bring in.” and then finishes with, “I grew from it and applied myself. I saw myself much further than taking care of the men in my life. I just want help girls who were like me, searching for help that it’s not the end of the world, and you don’t have to take the values that you saw at home further into your life as an adult.”
Every family has good and bad moments, mine included. Holidays are extremely important when it comes to families gathering together and being social, especially on religious holidays.
“My family raised me as Catholic, so holidays were always spent with people. Let it be socializing, worshipping, or gift-giving, there was always something going on during that time.” reminisced Katy.
“We spent Christmas Eve in Tucson with my distant family and then Christmas with my close family.” later saying, “We would all go to church, come home, and then start opening presents. It was nice because my family in Tucson acted like we never stopped seeing each other once the holidays were over. We just picked up right where we left off. Those were the best times of growing up.”
Youth and growing up looks very different for every person, but suppressing the memories as you get older is much worse. Tapia is studying to become a Psychologist and plans to graduate in 2022 from ASU. She grew up in a traditional, yet modern household. Whereas many others practice different beliefs, show different appraisals, and cook different foods, she is glad to be here today to share her roots, but also to take pride in where she came from.