Guest Post by Jenny Pellicer (@JennyPellicer)
Defining one’s heritage and identity is no easy feat. Let us take my case; I was born in Norway to a Mexican father and a Norwegian-American mother. As a young girl I would feel fully Mexican. As I grew up this strong sense of pride in my Mexican heritage further developed to include a deeper appreciation for each of the three countries that form part of my identity. So, am I una Latina?
In Norway, I was part Mexicana. It wasn’t until I arrived to Los Angeles that I started to say I was a Latina. Our Latino qualities tie us together and ferment this sense of solidarity that is invaluable, especially in the face of discrimination. It seems that many of us initially define ourselves as Latinos for our shared Latino characteristics but when asked to further define this we delve into further specificities such as where our roots are in Latin America.
It is then that our identity and our Latino character expands and takes on its more personal form, revealing the valuable differences that exist between our fellow Latinos. Therefore, I am a Latina and share many qualities, customs, traditions with other Latinos. I am also, however, a proud Norwegian, sharing in similarities between those of us from Nordic countries.
Aspects of our identity are difficult to describe and put down in words, yet when certain events occur I feel my identity more acutely. For example, I go to Salamanca, Guanajuato, when I listen to Pedro Infante or when I go to the Valle de Guadalupe with my father. These scenes and smells make me feel Mexican/Latino more than ever – I can almost touch my Mexican identity.
Growing up with this mixed cultural input in my life has taught me to appreciate and be tolerant of other people’s backgrounds and encouraged me to learn more about them.
Soy Latina, yes, but being “Latina” is not all that defines me, it is nevertheless an instrumental part of who I am proud to be.
Jenny Pellicer is a Tri-lingual (Quadrilingual) Mexican/Norwegian/American (French) Writer and a [self-professed] #Latism supporter and rebel. Read more of her poems, short stories, essays and life anecdotes at The Jenny Blog.