Venezuelan | Curacaoan
I identify as Afro-Latinx, spiritual and Catholic. My Mother was born and raised in Venezuela, my Father was born in Curacao but moved to Venezuela with his Mother at a young age where he was raised most of his life. They met at school when they were 17, they were both studying Fashion. My Mother wanted to travel the world and learn about new cultures, my Father wanted to design clothing and express his creativity. It was love at first sight and despite their cultural differences they started dating right away. At 19 my Father moved to The Netherlands in hope for a better future, my Mom followed him shortly after. I was born a year later, in a small town in the south of the country.
My parents split up shortly after I was born. This made my perception of being of mixed-race a distorted journey growing up. My Mother has very light skin, dark straight hair and dark eyes, making her look very European. To me she was the embodiment of beauty, making it difficult for me to understand why I didn’t look the same. This feeling was amplified the more my environment made it clear to me that I didn’t look like my Mother. The relationship I had with my Father wasn’t the best when I was a child, and I didn’t see him enough to realize I was a mix of my Mother and my Father. I started to recognize I was mixed-race when I accepted my Father more as a part of my life and felt pride in calling him, and everyone that came before him, a part of me. I feel as much Latinx as I feel Black, a beautiful mix of races. Although Latinx is a mix of White, Indigenous and Black, I still feel pride in adding Afro in front of Latinx.
Growing up I lived in several countries. My Mother remarried when I was 9 to a Venezuelan man. The three of us moved to Venezuela to start a new life in our ‘home’ country and stayed for 2 years. Moving to Venezuela to me felt like finally feeling I could live in a place where I belonged, and people understood me. But unfortunately, it is in these 2 years where I felt more of an alien than I had growing up in the small town where I was born. Being of dual heritage, I wasn’t accepted because my hair was thick and ‘bad hair’, because my skin was darker and because I didn’t look one bit like my Mother or Stepfather, who was also of light skin colour. I despised the part of me that made me of dual heritage and all I wanted was to look like my friends and belong. I felt ashamed for being Black, and also ashamed for being Latinx because I realised my own people where discriminating me. After living in Venezuela for 2 years we moved to the US, where I lived in Florida for a few years and finally felt I had settled in a place where people understood where I came from. Latinx, Blacks and mixed people were all over Florida. I embraced being Black and finally found Black friends I could relate to. And slowly but surely I started to feel the love come back for my Latinx heritage when I moved to Miami.
At the age of 14 I moved back to The Netherlands and reconnected with my Father after a long time. Unfortunately my parents never held a close relationship, so co-parenting was done without any dialogue between them. My parents played no role in managing to combine my different cultures. My biggest challenge has been feeling too ‘Black’ to fit in with Venezuelans and feeling to ‘Latinx’ to fit in with people from Curacao. Living in The Netherlands as a mixed person has not caused challenges for me when it comes to my mixed identity. My culture and principles play a big role in my life and determine who I let into my life.
Food plays a big role in staying in touch with both my cultures. Having a bite of any traditional dish brings back memories and make new ones when I share these dishes with family and friends. Same goes for music. Anything with drums and percussion will grab my attention because it reminds me of bachata, salsa and African music. My hair is a big part of my personality and I love to use my hair as a way to express who I am. I try to wear my hair as natural as possible to celebrate my dual heritage. Being mixed gives me the advantage of blending in more easily when needed, because I’m used to living in two worlds. This also gives me a taste of the best of both worlds, being capable to switch from language to language and understanding different perspectives and social structures.
If I had the opportunity to be reborn I wouldn’t want to be anything else but the person I am now.