Not “Hispanic” Enough

The struggles with not living up to cultural standards

Not Hispanic Enough

Guerra Caballero, Ena Marie

Ena Marie Guerra Caballero

Imagine your mother waking you up on a Sunday morning, to get ready for church. After church, you go visit your family for a cookout, but you don’t want to go. You don’t want to go because you feel uncomfortable visiting your family. They make you feel unworthy, not just as a person, but how you identify yourself. ‘I’m not ‘Hispanic’ enough’ goes through your head the whole time you’re there. All the judging your family does just because you don’t speak proper Spanish or don’t eat the same food as them. You feel like you are stuck in the middle, especially as a first generation, born here in the United States with a different culture and customs than your parents. Feeling pressured to choose one but not both, not feeling good enough as an ‘American’ or ‘Latino’.
Being born to a Latino family in the United States sometimes can lead to an identity crisis. Knowing how your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins can judge you until you cry in front of everyone. There are many reasons why Latino/a born in the United States feel confused with their identity due to not being ‘Latino enough’ or ‘American enough.’ This can happen for many reasons.
I remember when I was younger, I used to speak so much Spanish. Spanish was my first language; I would respond to everyone in Spanish. My parents knew it was important to teach me the native language from my culture. Once I started going to preschool, I learned how to speak English. Once I got home, I would start responding back in English. I would understand what others would say in Spanish, but I would never respond in Spanish, only English. I once tried responding in Spanish when I was younger, but when I tried, it wasn’t the best. My aunts would make fun of me for not being able to speak Spanish correctly, instead of helping me say the words or phrases the right way.
They would also blame my parents for not teaching us Spanish, which I believe is a parent’s choice to teach us their culture or history. I would feel embarrassed not being able to speak my culture’s native language, but it also made me feel like I wasn’t a Latina at all. I would understand every Spanish word that I heard, I just couldn’t speak it back.
I remember starting to speak more Spanish once I started going to church and once I entered middle school. My middle school had a Spanish teacher who was also a close friend to my parents. I was in a basic Spanish class but once she met me and my parents, she moved me into a native Spanish class. To be honest, I freaked out due to all the years my family would make fun of me for not speaking Spanish correctly and just not speaking it at all. I felt like everyone in my class would make fun of me just like how my aunts and uncles would, but I was so wrong. Thanks to my middle and high school Spanish teacher, Ruby Herrera. Also, Spanish teacher Shannon Buckroyd for getting me out of my comfort zone and encouraging me to speak, read, and write in Spanish. I felt better about myself and I didn’t feel embarrassed about not being Hispanic enough.
Now onto feeling pressured into just being “white” or “Hispanic.” Some students feel like they are pressured to just be one, not both. Most feel like they cannot be both due to family and others telling you that “you aren’t ‘Hispanic’ if you are doing one thing because that’s so ‘white’”. It could be the total opposite as well that “you aren’t ‘white’ if you are doing one thing because that’s so ‘Hispanic.’” Getting used to different customs is hard for a person who has two different cultures to learn and grow with.
The stereotypes must be stopped. For a ‘Latina’, appearance is one thing that can also make these females not feel good enough. The stereo type about Latinas must be curvy, with brown or black hair, beautiful brown eyes, and skin that is not to pale or not to dark. Being told that Latinas have to be curvy girls so that guys could be attracted to them is so wrong. You are listening to a stereotype that isn’t right. Every Latina that has different, beautiful features. Curly, straight, and wavy hair is normal for both females and males, Latino or not. Brown, blue, green, and hazel eye colors are also normal for females and males, Latino or not. Curvy or thin is also normal for females and males, Latino or not. Everyone is beautiful just the way they are, no matter what stereotype there is on your culture, never forget that!
In Latino and Hispanic culture, dishes include a lot of meat. Some are being vegan or vegetarian. It’s can be a disrespectful thing for ‘Latinos’ to become vegetarian or vegan. It can be a offensive thing to the culture and to the person who made the food. It’s not a common thing that Latinos don’t eat meat. Especially when in almost everything we eat we have meat. There are Latinos who are vegans and vegetarian and it’s totally normal. We must respect people’s values, not bring them down just because our culture and family are used to it. Also, with spicy food, the stereo type that we as Latinos eat spicy food all the time is wrong. Not everyone likes spicy food. When your family say you aren’t ‘tough enough’ or ‘Hispanic’ enough for not being able to eat spicy food.
Which also brings religion into the beliefs and values. You’re not ‘Hispanic’ if you don’t go to church and respect the religious beliefs and values. The most common religion for Hispanics is Catholicism or Christianity. This brings a little conflict in families. It’s a parent’s choice if they want to take their children to church or even to choose the same religion the family grew up with, especially with grandparents who want your parents to keep the same beliefs going on for generations. Going to church or not, you are who you are not what people say.
“I feel like growing up especially as a first generation American and having that Latino background your family comes with those customs and cultures and when you are raised both American and Latino you grow up thinking it was good to be white and you had to erase everything about you. Growing up, that’s how I thought cause you want to fit in you don’t want to be the only one out,” junior Andy Montalvo-Martinez said.
Try to understand other values and beliefs instead of putting your own people down just because they don’t look or act like the stereo typical Latino. It could make someone feel 100 times better about themselves.