Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SAU chapter.

I have lived in America my entire life. I was born on this soil in a hospital only a few miles from the Mississippi River. I grew up in a city between the cornfields of Iowa and Illinois. I’ve never once danced on the streets of Mexico. I can’t have a conversation longer than “Hello, how are you?” with a Spanish tongue. I have always felt stuck between the Hispanic part of me and the American side. For years I’ve had so many feelings swirling inside me. I was lost in my own body. As a writer, I have learned the amazing healing that writing brings. A few months ago, I began a project that’s been in my heart for a while. Writing it hurt, healed, made me smile, and made me cry. It was a beautiful experience, getting to make something of my story. Following this is that very project, a poem about my experience being a Mexican-American in this country.

the united states of assimilation


the process whereby 

individuals or groups are

absorbed into the dominant

culture of a society,

the process of 


involves taking on the traits

of the dominant culture to such a degree


you are now


i think in 


i grabbed the wrong crayon








or white

there was never 

the right color left

in the box

not white enough 

for the white kids

not dark enough 

for the hispanic ones

my skin has never matched 

my heritage 

so maybe it was the wrong crayon 

or maybe my color was washed away 

with the water

on my grandma’s back

or was it textbooks

that didn’t dive

deep enough


or white teachers

teaching spanish class

white teachers teaching

every class

white teachers 

and whiteboards

white classrooms,

white houses,

white stars and stripes,

white clouds in the sky


assimilation dances across 

my skin kicking

the pigmentations 

of my past to

the dirt

it flirts 

with the shadows 

in my mind reminding me


forget the little girl

you once were 

when you obsessed over

latin pop stars

forget grandparents 

finding their way to

this country 

forget the grandma calling you chula

forget the railroads they built

forget the darkened skin

forget who you are

forget the person 


imagine my great


humiliation at the hospital

the first day family members 

change my name


turns into vuh-lay-jo

and el-en-uh

turns into ee-lane-uh

how do you pronounce

a family name

tied down by

your anxieties

 you don’t

you keep quiet

you nod your head

you go along with it


each descendent 

gets a lesson on


don’t twist

your tongue,

wipe the culture

from your jaw

after a few

generations of

cultural genocide

i lost my hispanic side 

i don’t speak spanish


i don’t like spice or rice


i can’t speak spanish


no salsa


english, please


no, i can’t speak spanish 


try to sound white

act white

speak white 

breathe white

be white

be white

be white



i raise my hand 

to my heart

and follow the prayer we sing

to the flag

i pledge my pigments allegiance to 

the flag,

the flag that waves my past away,

the flag of the united states of assimilation

to the republic not dominican or puerto rican

to the republic which stands and claps for people losing themselves

in this 

one nation

one nation under god

under a white god

one nation


indivisible as long as you follow along 


liberty and justice for those who listen to whiteness and trust it

liberty and justice 

forgets me.

Elena is an Editor and Social Media Content Creator at HC @SAU. She oversees writing, edited articles, and posting on our media accounts. Beyond HC Elena is involved in theatre, Quercus, TAC, and is a member of the education preparation program. She also if the workstudy for theatre department, works at SAU Children's Campus, and at a local bookstore. Elena is majoring in Early Childhood Education with an endorsement in Special Education as well as getting a minor in both theatre and writing. In her freetime, Elena enjoys reading, writing poetry, and buying tote bags. Fun fact she is working writing a book.