Nine years before I was born, my parents made the bold move to follow their "American Dream" and immigrated to the United States from Brazil. I, not being born yet, obviously had no say in this. I was born on Thanksgiving day in a Jewish Hospital in Queens and my entire life I've only known two cultures, the American culture and the Brazilian culture.
Although I was born in the US and I'm a natural citizen, I've always identified myself as a Brazilian and still do (even though it's socially wrong). Due to my parents and older brother being citizens of Brazil and having been born there, I would always just say my nationality was Brazilian. Technically I was right because of my dual citizenship, but I would later come to recognize the fact that I'm also American. I'm fully American. I was born here and I grew up here. I didn't grow up in Brazil and I definitely wasn't born there. No matter how fluently I spoke Portuguese or related and conformed to the Latina culture more than the American culture, my nationality will always officially be American.
I'm Latina, that's my ethnicity. Culturally, I'm Brazilian, and nationality-wise, I'm American.
One thing that irritates me is how I feel as if I don't fit in anywhere. I recently went to a Latina/Hispanic culture club meeting and this guy who is Dominican-American told us a story about his visits to the Dominican Republic and his experiences with his misconception of who he identifies himself as. He said that before going to the DR, he was filled with pride for his country and culture, but as soon as he arrived and identified himself as Dominican in front of the locals and his family, he was instantly shut down. They said "no you're not Dominican, you're American and you're just as white as they are". This part of his story really stuck with me because I maybe not have been told that to my face, but I might as well have had it told to my face. When I remember the first time I went to Brazil to see both sides of my family for the first time, I was around 10 years old at the time. Looking back at my memories and remembering how I felt when I arrived, I realize that I didn't fit in there either. I was too American for anyone there and that's all people in my family and my parents friends saw me as; an American. I wasn't Brazilian and I wasn't Brazilian-American. I was just American.
I was one out of two people in a room of about 40 people who didn't identify themselves as Hispanic. We were talking about culture differences and what it was like being Latina/Hispanic in the US and it constantly keeps hitting me how much I just don't fit in anywhere. I don't speak Spanish and I couldn't relate to half of what the people in room were talking about related to their upbringing and the things they grew up with in their childhood.
Being a "black latina" has by far been the most stressful experience emotionally for me. I'm constantly battling with it and it's always on my mind. Possibly the biggest pet peeve I have, is when someone asks me "what I am". What do you mean by "what I am"? I'm human and I'm tired of not knowing what groups I fall into and not know where fit in. I'm black, but I'm not African American or Caribbean. I'm Latina, but I'm not white or Hispanic. Being Brazilian puts you in your own category and being a person who falls into that non-existent category has taught me that we aren't represented enough.
We had a game where we were supposed to guess the name and occupation of a famous Latina/Hispanic person on the tv and not one of those people who showed up in the slides were Brazilian, all of them were Hispanic. When talking about Latin America, people often forget that Brazil is a country that is still part of Latino culture. How do you forget a country that takes up like half of South America? How do you forget that more people in South America speak Portuguese than Spanish?