“You’re invited to the carne asada!” For those who don’t know, this is one of the best invitations you’ll ever receive. It’s a true test of your friendship or relationship and a great honor. You’ll be greeted by several aunts and uncles, grandparents, and many cousins, but the long greeting is worth it. An enviable feast will await you, with frijoles, arroz, pollo, al pastor, salsa, and so much more! At least if you decide to make an appearance! So join me as I share my culture and the life lessons that come with being a Chicana.
If we’re going to be best friends, it’s important to establish some basics. You might often hear the terms “Latina,” “Mexican,” and “Hispanic,” and wonder what the differences are. Sometimes these words are even used interchangeably. However, according to GENIAL’s article “Is it Hispanic, Chicano/Chicana, Latino/Latina, or Latinx,” a Chicana is “[The] chosen identity of some Mexican Americans in the United States. The term was widely used during the Chicano Movement of the 1960s by many Mexican Americans to express a political stance founded on pride in a shared cultural, ethnic, and community identity” (3). With this in mind, I identify as a Chicana. A Mexican-American. Both parents came from Mexico early in their lives and had to adjust to the English culture and language. Nevertheless, they never let go of their original roots making it a fun and wild childhood.
Think of family parties with an attendance of more than thirty people. Food galore. It will continue until the next day. You for sure were going to see kids sleeping either on chairs or running around the block. Better yet, the music being played so loud for the neighborhood to hear. This is just what a small party looks like. It is a whole different ballpark when talking about Quincenera’s (child’s fifteenth birthday celebration). Those take months to plan and you will not be disappointed if you ever go to one. Just make sure you have your dancing shoes on and have a fan or paper plate on standby. Because the room gets hot!
Most importantly, there is an unspoken sense of unity among Mexican individuals. It especially comes out on September 16th (Mexico’s Independence Day), however, you just know when you are in the presence of others who share the same background as you. The same could be said for other cultures, yet the Mexican one is unique. It is very welcoming. InterNations website writes “In 2017, Mexico [was] the friendliest country in general, with more than nine in ten expats agreeing Mexicans are friendly people” (“The Top 10 Most Welcoming Countries 3”). This year the country was ranked as number three, however, it goes to show those who went for work (expats) felt welcomed and found it easy to adjust to the culture because of it. Proving the connection between Mexicans is not only limited to each other, but the friendliness also extends to everyone. We really do treat everyone as family. At least we try to. As my grandma says, “Donde comen dos, comen tres.” Translating to where “Two eat, three can.”Meaning that no matter what the circumstances are, there is always room at the table. My grandma is a strong advocate of there being a way to make it work and the more the merrier!
Now, it should be noted that society has improved its awareness of other cultures’ customs. Overall, it is being more open and accepting of the differences. I would say when attending elementary school and even middle school, the case was not like this. Many students would be baffled by my packed lunch, and who could blame them? My potato-filled tacos with cheese and lettuce were quite different from their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. On the bright side, it has been amazing seeing how children nowadays embrace their unique customs. More so, how other kids respond with eagerness when learning about them.
“Is It Hispanic, Chicano/Chicna, Latino/Latina, or Latinx?” GENIAL, www.exploratorium.edu/sites/default/files/Genial_2017_Terms_of_Usage.pdf.
“The Top 10 Most Welcoming Countries.” InterNations, www.internations.org/guide/global/the-top-10-most-welcoming-countries-39411.