Belgian/Dutch | Mexican
I am a 33 year old, of European/Mexican decent. I have always identified myself as a Mexican woman, but now embrace both parts me. When asked “what race and/or ethnicity am I,” I say European-Mexican.
My Father is one one of 6 children. He was born in California, but his parents are European. My Grandfather was a British Airforce Pilot born in Belgium, and my Grandmother is of Dutch descent. My Grandmother was a script writer and met my Grandfather in Hollywood. He did some modelling and acting after he retired from the British Air Force. My Father is a Latin jazz bass player who has introduced me to some amazing people and music. I grew up around Latin jazz, blues, salsa, and so many other genres. As I little girl I would watch all his concerts; listening to the beat of the congas, bass, xylophone, piano, saxophone. All if it was mesmerizing. I didn’t grow up with my Dads ‘blood’ family, but I did grow up with his music family, which was beautiful. Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, African Americans; all of us dancing and listening to the beats of music. That’s how my Dad met my Mom, through a music friend at one of his gigs.
My Mom is from a little town called Ejutla in Jalisco, Mexico. She came to the United States when she was about 18 years old. She is one of 9 siblings, but only my Mom and two Uncles came to California to start a new life, with new beginnings. My Mom and Dad met through a mutual friend. My Mom didn’t know English and my dad didn’t know Spanish, all they understood was the beauty in front of them. They were together up until I was about 14 years old.
Spanish was my first language so growing up I mainly spoke Spanish. I was in ESL classes all through high school. Although I didn’t see anything strange by it friends and school kids did. I looked more like my father, ‘White girl’, as the kids and people would say. But I saw myself as a Mexican girl. I never saw color like other people did until kindergarten, and that’s when I noticed it.
All I knew was growing up in a Mexican household. Although my Father was not Mexican, his friends and music family were all Latinos, so I assumed that’s what he was. But in school the Latina girls were always giving me a hard time, “is that your nanny?”. “Why doesn’t your Mom look like you?”, “how come your sisters are darker than you?”, “are you adopted?”. Although my Dad was a European man and had light skin like me, it would make me question myself. My Dad would always tell me and my sisters that we are beautiful and there’s nothing wrong with us. My other sisters got the opposite about our father, since they looked more like my Mom. They wondered who this ‘White man’ was to them.
I grew up angry and hurt, which caused me to fight a lot in school. The light skinned kids looked at me as if I was ‘ghetto’ because I didn’t act like them, or dress like them. I didn’t come from a lot of money and I had an accent. I never felt good enough for the Latino community and I never felt ‘White’ enough for the Caucasian kids.
I struggled with my identity. I cared too much about people’s opinions as a young girl and young adult. It effected the way I communicated and the way I got to know people. It made me build walls up. Although I was a funny, friendly, full of life girl, I only showed a hard, “don’t be me with me” girl. That way I was respected by both races, I felt respect and fear were more important than making ‘real friends’.
I remember feeling embarrassed when one of my cousins caught me playing ‘alternative’ music and told me to stop being so White, so I would only listen to the music my family would listen to. Even going to college to better myself was wrong in some people’s eyes, they said “stop trying to be White and stop trying to be better then us. You’re ghetto, stop trying to pretend you’re all that”. So again, I allowed that mentality to determine who I was.
But as I got older and evolved I met people who understood me. I met people who empowered me to love who I am. To not care about other people’s opinions. Up until a few years ago I still allowed people to get under my skin when they said comments about me not being a true ‘Latina’ or not being a true ‘White American woman’. Believe it or not, adults are just as bad as kids and people really know how to make people feel bad about who they are.
But for me, not anymore. I embraced who I was, not only for me but for my 9 year old daughter. To show her to love yourself and love differences you may have, to accept the differences of others.
I got my GED, I learned to change how I reacted to things, went to college and now attending a university majoring in Psychology. I listen to country music and classical music freely. I listen to Boleros and salsa. I listen to whatever I want openly and freely. I can communicate with anyone and feel comfortable in my own skin. I don’t feel ashamed. I consider myself cinnamon/swirl. I’m a woman. I’m smart, courageous, a warrior, an artist, a poet, a mother. But, the main one is that I’m Tania.
This is a poem
Cinnamon vanilla swirl confessions:
Flawed, perfectly imperfect, dark circles, tired eyes, no makeup, no mascara, no editing, or glamour.
I am a European/Mexican woman. I am a mother. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a college student. I am a survivor. I am a thriver. I am ME. I am an artist. I am a cook. I am a listener. I am a voice. I have freckles and dimples. I could tell you all the things I am not… but I won’t because just like a fingerprint, I am unique and the only person in this entire universe that exists who is ME. I am proud of who I am and don’t take that for granted. I don’t compare because that doesn’t exist... why would we want clones when we can be ourselves. That’s enough. So… this is me, perfectly imperfect ME.
Artwork: this is part of an artwork I did :
Cinnamon vanilla swirl confessions: “Mean girls”
Im a Mixed race woman. My Father is European and my mother is Mexican. But I never looked “Mexican” enough to be considered a Latina woman ... yet too ethnic and “ghetto” to be a white Caucasian woman.
Spanish was my first language... I was even in ESL all through high school. People were always shocked when I walked in the classroom.
I grew up with my Mom’s side of the family... the Medina’s - so I always classified myself as a Mexican woman. I struggled with my identity and compared myself to other Mexican women, hoping they’d see Me as an equal. I was put down by both of my people .... but....one day I didn’t care anymore, I loved me for me. My race, my ethnicity didn’t define me..... I defined me.
I am a woman, I’m smart, creative, caring, passionate, bold, adventurous, and I’m unique.
Be proud of who you are and be ok with the differences you have, that’s what makes you - YOU. If you are a mixed baby, embrace the recipe your parents created!