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Hispanic Heritage Month: 5 Things My Private School Never Taught Me Pt. 5

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 TCU chapter.

What is a Latina? What does she look like? Does she act or dress or speak a certain way? Well, Google would tell you a Latina is: “a woman or girl of Latin American origin or descent”. My private school would have said, well nothing, making this the perfect puzzle piece ending of “5 Things My Private School Never Taught Me: What is a Latina?”. 

Growing up in the early stages of Gen Z, there was little representation in media of the diverse range of what Latinas can look like. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, “What are you?”, I would have a billion dollars. From my hazel eyes and curly hair to my pale skin, being racially ambiguous has made my racial and ethnic background one of the first questions asked when I meet people. Whereas I certainly wish I could charge a dollar for the correct answer and become a billionaire, sadly, that’s not how it goes. I often start this somehow neverending question with “Well I actually took a DNA test, and it told me…”, and they respond with what they originally assumed I was. 

Media and many predominately white areas of America often represent Latinx people as one homogenous group, who have all the same culture, identities, backgrounds, and experiences. In reality, that could not be further from the truth. Growing up, in a predominately white area in Wisconsin. The only time I was really around any people of color was when I was around my family. In many ways, I felt very different from the people I was around both in school and with family. I felt very separated from both cultures. Many of my experience in school or around family was very anxiety-inducing, where I felt like I had to change to conform to the social norm. At times at school, I would express how I felt different but was often dismissed. On the other hand, I had friends of color that called me “whitewashed” and a “fake Latina” because of the “lack of culture” that I grew up in and around. Neither of these experiences was my fault in any way, shape, or form, yet I continued to listen to the demeaning words of others.  I wrote a poem once called “MEXID”, which encaptured my experience being mixed in a white world. 


Stick & stones 

may break my bones

But words, they 

might just kill me

Mind racing 

Head spacey,

I’m stuck in the middle 

In the middle of being mixed

“You’re too white” 

“You’re not white enough”

This is my life 

Of not being good for much 

Split in two 

Straight down the middle 

Which one to choose?

Light skin, hair brittle

I’m only stuck in the middle

In the middle of being mixed.

“You’re too white”

“You’re not white enough”

This is my life

Of not being enough of one

Sit up straight, don’t talk like that

You were raised better 

Don’t you remember

I worked hard for you to turn out better

You act so miserable

Don’t you see?

Being the best means acting as white as you can be

“You’re too white” 

“You’re not white enough”

This is my life 

Of not being good for much

Caught in the m i d d l e 

The m i d d l e of being mixed

I spent my entire life trying to blend into a box of what I thought people wanted me to be. Whether that is suppressing my experiences as a person of color, or looking down upon myself for not being “Latina enough”. However, I have concluded that the opinions of others do not matter. What both these groups failed to understand is that there is no possible way to put Latina into any box or specific category. There are no body types, phenotypes, or backgrounds that outline what a Latina is, should look like, act like or embody. To omit a specific person because they don’t follow a standard or perception of one of these is to omit a whole group of people who are similar yet are still Latinx. 

As Hispanic History Month comes to a close, I hope that this series brought a beautiful reminder of the many inspirational Latinx people who have brought great change to our nation. I hope their actions inspire you to learn more about and take action when injustices arise. Additionally, I hope that my story, either resonated with you or opened your eyes in some way. 

Let this serve as your reminder:

A Latina is a Latina no matter what.

Aspiring owner of a non-profit and writer:) Studying movement science on a pre-pt track and minoring in entrepreneurship and innovation.