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.