I wrote this 2001 when I took a break from writing angry breakup poetry-lol. As an immigrant that grew up here, I’ve struggled with my identity for most of my life. Issues with identity are also another trait of BPD. I think this was a time in my life when I was especially reflecting on this part of my identity because I was become aware that men were fetishizing me.
Caught between two worlds what am I made up of more hopefully I won’t ever have to choose sometimes I wish to just cut loose
Too Latina for the American side Too Americanizada for the Latino side So what is the politically correct term for someone like me? Not American, not born here Not fully Latina either for I lack that latin allure
So I’ll call myself one of a kind a girl with much Latin beauty and an American mind like a delicious half and half cream whose taste is an amazing mixed dream
It’s been 4 years since I took an oath to become an American citizen. I took an oath specifically to Trump which makes me nauseous typing BUT I also took an oath because of Trump. Before making the decision to become an American citizen, I had never really cared about politics but that was until Trump got elected. If you were a POC or immigrant or both, you felt the shift in the racial tension in the U.S right before the election but especially after the election. Racists overtly made their ignorant beliefs known that immigrants were not welcomed in this country. DACA was in the process of being repealed. DACAmented kids who should have been protected were being deported and there was a rise in deportation for undocumented immigrants as well or well the media made it seem like that. I felt that as an immigrant with LPR (legal permanent resident) status, I could possibly be next. In February of 2016, I sent my paperwork to USCIS to solidify my relationship with America. One could say that for better or worse, I finally decided to make a commitment to this country. Here is my blog post about the process:
What has changed in the past 4 years since becoming an American and what does being American mean to me now?
Well, I’ve voted in 2 elections since I’ve become an American including the national election in 2020 (yay, no more Trump). In October of this year, I applied for my passport and have received it. Now, I can take a trip out of the country without any worries or concerns. While it is an immense privilege to be an American citizen since I now have a whole new world of opportunities opened up and I can travel anywhere; I feel that I haven’t really changed on the inside. I still see myself and identify as an immigrant but now I also call myself an American. But to be honest, my idea of being an American has changed. I used to think I needed a piece of paper to say “Oh, I’m American” but for better or worse, America is and has been ingrained in me since that hot September day in 1986 when I set my foot on American soil at the age of 5.
I was an American when every morning at school I would say the Pledge of Allegiance in my broken and terrible English at the age of 6 and 7.
I was an American when I went back to Peru at age 9 to get my resident alien status solidified with my family.
I was an American when I met my childhood best friends in Hawaii at age 11.
I was an American when I had my babies at ages 17, 24, and 30.
I was American when I started working for the government at the age of 18.
I was an American when I got my college degree in 2009 from the University of Georgia .
I was an American in 2016 and early 2017 when I attended protests and marches for immigrant and women’s rights.
And I was an American when people told me, “my english is good for being a Mexican” or I’ve been discriminated against or oppressed in this country by the people that don’t want “my kind” here.
I used to believe that I didn’t belong here because of the racism, prejudice, and ignorance I’ve encountered but that’s no longer the case. This year, I finally let go of those beliefs because I’ve embraced that I am America and America is me. My life may have been harder in many aspects because I wasn’t the average “American born” citizen but I will tell you that I wouldn’t trade my experience as an American to be average. I I feel that working harder than the “average American” for my success has made me appreciate my success so much more and for that I am thankful. My parents had no idea of the many hardships they would endure making the decision to immigrate to this country but I am glad they made that journey. It’s taken me 35 years to get here but today I can honestly say that I’m proud to be an American.
When me and my family first immigrated to the U.S in September of 1986; Thanksgiving was a foreign concept to us. We were introduced to Thanksgiving by our extended family members who were seasoned veterans in celebrating this American Holiday. I was 5 when I immigrated to this country so my memories of our first or second Thanksgiving are pretty blurry.
What I do remember is going to my uncle’s house where my aunts, uncles and numerous cousins would gather. My mother sat with my aunts and grandmother while they shared the latest chisme (aka-gossip) while they cooked and later on served dinner to the kids and the men. Yay for machismo culture <insert sarcasm>. My father and my uncles drank together while they joked around. I remember playing with my cousins or following my sister upstairs with our teenage cousins to the bedroom with the TV to watch music videos with George Michael ,Rick Astley blasting on MTV. Maybe that’s how I acquired my sometimes basic taste in music.
I also remember that since we were away from adults, our cousins took the opportunity to teach me and my sister all of the bad words in English. Haha. Another fond memory that comes to mind is the newest babies being passed around the aunts or the older female cousins. There wasn’t such a thing as asking permission from the parents for their baby unless of course the child is being nursed. I also remember hating the taste of turkey. It tasted like rubber to me.
There was warmth and laughter in this idyllic setting of Thanksgiving but that’s not the whole picture. There was also unpleasantness. My mom is one of nine children and with that many personalities; there was no way to avoid drama when all of them gathered in one space. There were more than a few petty conflicts between family members on Thanksgiving and other holidays gatherings.
My mother decided after a couple of Thanksgivings it would be better to celebrate Thanksgiving at home by ourselves. So my mother learned how to season and make a turkey and stuffing. Instead of the traditional green bean casserole or sweet potato pie; our sides were Peruvian Potato Salad and Macaroni Salad accompanied by Peruvian Hot Chocolate and Dad’s famous alcoholic Peruvian eggnog. We would watch movies rented from the local video store while we waited for the turkey to be ready. When my dad started getting tipsy, he would start playing Spanish Christmas Carols, Huaynos, and Musica Criolla. It was music that my teenage sister would cringe at and me and my brother would tolerate. I didn’t realize then but I do realize now that my father was in his own way trying to make sure that we wouldn’t forget our roots as we were living this new life in America. My parents tried their best to make sure that our strong Peruvian culture and traditions were not forgotten as we acclimated to the the new Americanized way of living. When dinner was ready, we would sit down at the table. I ,being the youngest and most impressionable by my then Catholic School upbringing, would ask the family to say a prayer and ask them to say something they were thankful for. I think I was seven or eight at the time but I guess my parents thought it was a good tradition to start. And of course, my siblings would get annoyed but they did it.
Despite those first few Thanksgivings when we lived very much under the poverty line; it was still a happy time for us as a family. My parents made sure that Thanksgiving was almost always filled with warmth, love, and laughter. One could say that what Thanksgiving meant to my newly arrived immigrant family then was learning how to incorporate our culture into a new American holiday like Thanksgiving. While my parents understood the importance of assimilation; they still made sure me and my siblings didn’t forget our culture. Today, I’m filled with gratitude that my parents brought the best of both cultures to Thanksgiving and most holidays in their own unique way. I’ve been able to bring these bicultural traditions to my own family while also making new traditions.