Free To Be a Chiconkey

This is an excerpt from a discussion post I did for one of my classes.

In 1975 when I was born, my mother was 38 and my father was 40ish.  My brother was 18 and my sister was 11.  While it’s much more common for people in this age range to have babies today, it wasn’t the norm at the time.  My mother often remarks that she was obviously pregnant with me at my brother’s high school graduation.  In addition, my mother is Latina and my father is Caucasian, which was far less common where I live in the 50’s when my parents were married.  These two sociological abnormalities absolutely shaped who I am and what I value. 

Although I am just as Caucasian as I am Latina, I identify more with my mom’s side of the family than my dad’s.  On an aside, I say Latina because we’re not really “Mexican” meaning there are many aspects of a traditional Mexican-American heritage that are not part of my family’s way of being.  For example, we don’t have quinceaneras, or have Ninas and Ninos, we don’t eat menudo, we weren’t taught to speak Spanish, etc…  It’s hard to explain the culture of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico if you don’t live here without risking sounding offensive or ignorant.  Anyway, I relate more to being Latina because of the way I look, (dark hair, brown eyes, olive skin) and because of the racism I know my mom experienced.  This being said, I’m actually a lot like my dad in personality.  I’m a McKim through and through.  I actually look a lot like my dad too, but it can’t be seen because I’m dark and he’s light.  I’m going through the same thing with my son.  He looks like my dad but people assume and remark that he looks like my husband because he is white.

So, what does this mean in terms of values, strategy and decision making?  It means I’m all over the place and I don’t do what might be expected by others who don’t know me because I don’t match up to their preconceived notions, biases, prejudices and experiences of what I should be or do.  When I talk about my heritage, several people have actually told me that they were surprised to find out that I’m Latina.  I’ve heard, “I thought maybe Italian” or “I would have never guessed you were Mexican” and that’s racist because I know why they couldn’t see the Latina – I don’t fit their stereotype.

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About gingerestelle

Enough about me...

4 responses to “Free To Be a Chiconkey”

  1. Tony Bueno says :

    “It’s hard to explain the culture of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico if you don’t live here without risking sounding offensive or ignorant”

    So, I was at a party a couple of weeks ago and this Puerto Rican chick was all: “How come you don’t know spanish?” I basically had to explain to her that the western united states has many generations of Mexican-Americans who in more recent generations do not know spanish because of their parents or grandparents being taught english and to assimilate into american culture, or something like that, unlike out here where most people are first generation and bilingual. I also said that I wish I did and that is was on my long life list of things to accomplish. And then I told her: “EEEEE, don’t worry about it!” hahaha….

  2. Vero says :

    I just happened upon you blog and wanted to say that I love what you represent and that there are others out there that share your experience. Maybe not the same experience, but definitely so similar as to have an understanding. I am just like you, but reverse, dad being a Guatemalteco and mom is Polish-German mix. It seems like I got the “Bad” genes. The bad characteristics of both races. I’m short, have dark, nappy hair (so nappy that people often mistake me for a Puerto Rican or that I have some black in me), Dark boring eyes, and I’m so white! If I’m mixed cant I get some green eyes with beautiful olive skin? haha

    Anyhow all joking aside. as far as matching peoples preconceived notions, I feel like most of the people around me are so ignorant. They feel that you have to fit a certain physical mold or be of one ethnicity to claim anything. At some points I feel that I dont fit in anywhere. I can pass as white sometimes, but I often dont feel right doing so. I feel like I am missing something important. Being mixed, I also was not exposed alot to my fathers culture. Since my mom was white, her culture was the dominant one. I feel cheated, like I’m missing something. I feel like I am missing the heritage of my father. Sure I have heard stories, but I never learned how to cook tamales or authentic Chapin dishes because my grandmother didnt speak English. I have never been able to communicate with my grandmother. I tried learning spanish since high school, taking classes through college, but I am foreign language illiterate.

    I seek that heritage sometimes, but people accuse me of trying to be something I’m not. No I am not a full Latina, but because I try to be around the heritage and enjoy those things, I am trying to pose as something else? Its irritating, and by this age, I thought I would have found an identity by now, but I am still searching.

  3. gingerestelle says :

    Hi Vero! I think I have come across your comments at Latinaish.com. If so, I responded to you on Senora Lopez’ blog. If you are the same Vero, I want you to know that reading your comments was a major driver in my starting this blog. I’ve always known that there are many, many in-between people who have these kinds of experiences and feelings. Personally, I claim all the things that I am. I’m not one or the other, I am both. I’ve felt the sting of racism and the benefits of blending with white and brown alike. I hear what your saying about “passing” but I have to pose the question – how can you be “passing” for something that you actually are? I hope you keep coming back. I haven’t been posting as often as I should, but it’s people like you who remind me that this is important. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Vero says :

    Hi Ginger!

    I forgot about this blog for a bit, but now I’m glad I came back. Yes its the same Vero, and I am glad that my posts provoked some thought. This is a great blog and I am enjoying reading it. It is really hard to find people who are mixed, especially ones who are mixed white and hispanic. No matter what anyone says these two ethnicities are a worlds of a difference and its hard to find an identity when it is so convenient to fit everyone into boxes.

    As for passing, I guess its hard to say…I can pass as just white without ever mentioning my Latin heritage…it would be hard but not impossible, I can just tell people I’m italian or greek and they would accept it withough questions. I guess that is what I mean by passing. The thing is that people look at you different when they find out exactly “what you are”.

    Declaring my Latina-ness is actually where the problems come in “how come you dont speak spanish?” “You’re white genes are dominant.” This never comes from Caucasions, but Hispanics. I feel that most of the time, they try to exclude me. I have had somebody call me a wannabe hispanic once. Then I dumped him.

    Now I am more mature and I know who I am, I never deny either one of my parents. I am just me.

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