The Truth About Growing Up Hispanic
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Politics and Activism

The Truth About Growing Up Hispanic

The truth about being a first-generation American

The Truth About Growing Up Hispanic
Samantha Sanchez

September 15th, 1821. To most of my friends, this day is utterly insignificant. Maybe it was someone's birthday or anniversary; or maybe a family member you know nothing about was lost on this day, 195 years ago. To me and my family, though, this day represents a crucial turning point in our history. This is our Independence Day. This is the Central American 4th of July. On this day, a document was formally signed proclaiming Central America's independence from the Spanish Empire.

September 15th, 2016. Just over a week ago, I was having a conversation with a girl I did not know very well. We made small talk about what classes we were taking this semester, how mother nature was PMSing over Florida, and our hometowns - one of those stupid, "trying to get to know you, but not really trying" conversations. Somehow the conversation led to the topic of our parents' education:

"Well, my mom didn't really go to traditional college. She didn't have American citizenship at the time."

"So you're a first generation American? What's that like?"

Maybe it was the fact that I was on 4 hours of sleep or that I had a blister on my left foot, but that question kind of irked me. It felt out of place, like asking someone what it's like to be born black, or to grow up without a father. You don't know any different. How could you know?

I smiled politely, and changed the subject, but that stuck with me. What has it been like to grow up in a family of immigrants?

Well, first, let's get some things straight: I don't eat tortillas and refried beans, at least not everyday. I don't have trouble speaking English, and I have beaten teen pregnancy. I don't listen to Aventura or Pitbull religiousl. My family does not live in poverty. I have one sibling, not 12. Oh, and I don't own a sombrero.

I have a great sense of rhythm and can dance bachata and merengue like nobody's business. I am fluently bilingual; I can devour literal bags full of croquetas de jamón - okay, so some of the stereotypes are true.

Both of my parents have had professional white collar occupations, because they've worked hard to get to where they are now. They are also both in this countrylegally.

My grandmother is my second mom. I grew up in her house, with my dozen and a half cousins, and it was lovely. Every family outing felt like a field trip. Every time I was sick or hurt, someone was there to care for me. Even if I'd done something pretty awful, I had cousins that would help me cover up the mess, and aunts that would make sure my mom never found out. I had the privilege of growing up with the unconditional love of not just my own parents, other family members as well. I have also been fortunate enough to have the type of family members that aren't really family, but they've been with your family for so long that they just kind of moved in, and I love them just the same.

These are the traditions that the generations before me fought for in my family's home country. THAT is what it's been like growing up in a Hispanic home.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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