What It Means to Be Chicana

Being a Chicana, or a Chicano, means being of Mexican descent and being born in the United States—it’s choosing an identity that is not “Hispanic” or “Latino.” It’s being divided between two cultures and opposing identities and these are our struggles:

It means never feeling good enough— for either side

Because we were not born in Mexico and most of us usually visit during the summers, we are not “Mexican” enough for Mexicans. Because we grew up in the United States, adapting to American culture and traditions, we are not seen as 100% “Mexican.” We can never be “American” enough for Americans because we still have our roots and traditions running through our veins—and the color of our skin. As Selena Quintanilla’s father in the film ‘Selena’ says, “it’s exhausting.” Yes, keeping up with two entirely different identities while making sure not to dig too deep into either is exhausting.

Being asked, “Where are you from?” “But, where are you really from?”

 

The question we usually get when people aren’t satisfied when we answer that we’re born from somewhere in the U.S. I’ve been guessed every nationality besides my very own. And then there’s…

“But you don’t look Mexican.”

 

The most famous comment most of us receive after people ask us where our parents are from because they’re not satisfied with our first answer. We may not look the way everyone expects us to (typical stereotypes like being short or wearing a poncho and sombrero). We come in all different shapes, sizes, colors; you name it.

People automatically think we speak Spanish

People (usually Hispanics) will criticize that some of us aren’t fluent in Spanish, others will ask us to translate really hard words into Spanish for them (I’m talking about our gringo amigos). It’s a language barrier, yes. But. . .

We speak the best Spanglish though.

 “Oh, what do you think about Trump?”

“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

– President Donald Trump

Now, the most-asked-about question we receive since 2016. Just don’t. Unless you really want to know.

 

Chicana and proud

Being Chicana, or Mexican American, can leave you feeling invisible sometimes, but it’s truly a beautiful mess. It’s a gift in which we get to experience the best of both worlds. We celebrate Halloween and Día De Los Muertos, and we eat carne asadas and hamburgers. In this cultural intersection, we hail from rich and colorful roots full of history and we’re born into soil that’s filled with endless opportunities and freedom. We are not trying to be white, nor are we trying to get rid of our Mexican values. We are simply trying to be proud of both our cultural identities. We create our own belonging and familiarity through our opposing identities. We are Chicanos. We carry our home with us where ever we go. Viva la raza.

All gifs courtesy of Giphy.