Today, I started the introduction for my thesis, and I began by talking about why I am drawn to Isabel Allende’s novels. She is a Chilean-American writer.
I am Mexican. This is what I have been told and how I identify.
The truth is that when my grandparents came to America, they shed their culture. It was not important that their children spoke Spanish. I do not speak Spanish, even though I took three years of Spanish in high school, and I even studied the language in college. We didn’t just lose the language, none of the Mexican traditions were preserved. As I’ve grown up, my identity as a Mexican has been challenged, because there are so many traditions my family does not practice or are not even aware of.
I also don’t look Mexican. I’m not really sure I look like anything. I remember when I was working as a receptionist, a Chinese man walked into the building. He didn’t even say hello. He just stopped and bluntly asked, “Are you half?”
I responded, “Half of what?”
He thought I was half Chinese. Typically, when people ask me what I am, I say, “My skin is white, my heart is Mexican, and my stomach is Asian.” That pretty much sums me up.
Since, I was raised with an empty title: Mexican. I’ve done my own searching. In college I studied Mesoamerican Art History and Mesoamerican mythology. There is this deep longing for a culture I can pin down and possess.
I recently watched Disney’s Coco. The ending had me in tears. Immediately after the movie was over, I called my older brother to say, “You have to watch this movie.”
He finally watched it this past weekend, and he cried too. Being a dad of four, my brother’s heart has grown to be quite tender, and I think it’s the sweetest thing ever, but I digress.
Our mom questioned our tears (even though she cried too), saying that we shouldn’t be moved, because we couldn’t relate to the Mexican culture within the film, which is silly, but that’s okay.
In one of Isabel Allende’s novels, the protagonist proclaims, “What matters is what you do in this world, not how you come into it.”
For a while now, I have wanted to take a DNA ancestry test. (Em from the Earthly Brain also wrote a post about this today. Check it out! She makes some interesting points.)
Maybe one day I will, but will it change anything?