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If You Grew Up In A Biracial Home, These Awkward Situations I’ve Dealt With Will Be Way Too Relatable

Throughout my childhood, I never really identified as Afro-Latina. I was just a kid who happened to have two parents who celebrated two different cultures. My mom is Salvadoran and my dad is African-American. As much as I grew up loving the mix of these cultures, to others this was confusing.

Other Afro-Latinas or biracial people will relate to situations like these…

As an Afro-Latina, there are definitely a lot of ups and downs I encountered in regards to my identity and appearance. But one of the biggest downsides was that people often mistaken my mom for my babysitter.

CREDIT: CHRISTINA HENDERSON

Since my mom is so light-skinned compared to my little brother and I, people always think she’s our babysitter.

And because people find it so hard to believe that she’s actually my mom, I get bombarded with questions like: “So…what are you???” 

CREDIT: GIPHY

I get this question almost every single time I meet someone. As annoying as it can be, I’ve decided to just let people struggle for a bit and guess for themselves. The most obvious guesses are Dominican, Panamanian, Hawaiian and Jamaican…all of which are incorrect.

And if for some reason they still can’t seem to wrap their minds around it, I take out my phone show them a picture.

CREDIT: CHRISTINA HENDERSON

Yup, I always keep a picture of my family in my phone just in case they don’t shut up. 🙂

But when people aren’t bugging me about “what I am,” forms like these are what really frustrate me:

 

CREDIT: CHRISTINA HENDERSON

Unfortunately, I don’t really have any other option than to select “other” every time I fill out one of these forms. Sometimes there’s a glorious moment in which they give you the option of “two or more races,” but for the most part, I’m stuck between choosing Latino or Black – even though I’m both.

I often even felt limited when it came to speaking my own language.

CREDIT: CHRISTINA HENDERSON

Growing up, my mom told us to keep our Spanish to a minimum if we knew that other people around us couldn’t speak or understand the language. Since my dad’s side of the family didn’t speak Spanish, I was taught that it could be seen as rude, disrespectful, or as if I was trying to hide something. But now that I’m older I’ve tossed those rules out the window. Every single person is entitled to speak whatever language they want – it’s part of their culture and their identity, and I’ll always be proud to be bilingual.

But having conversations with my mom completely in Spanish is one of the best feelings ever.

CREDIT: CHRISTINA HENDERSON

My dad not being able to understand, nor speak Spanish actually works to my advantage sometimes, especially when I need to tell my mom something I don’t want my dad to know about. Those moments when I get to just sit down and talk to my mom in Spanish, without being criticized or interrupted, are some of the most comfortable moments ever.

As for food, it’s always the best of both worlds.

CREDIT: CHRISTINA HENDERSON

With the combination of tamales, collard greens, pupusas and hot water cornbread, I *always* look forward to holiday family gatherings. No matter how culturally different my mom’s and dad’s family is, when my abuela and aunties come together in the kitchen, it’s freaking heaven…seriously the best combination ever.

And the same goes for the music.

CREDIT: CHRISTINA HENDERSON

With my mom’s love for salsa and my dad’s love for old-school R&B, the party playlist at family gatherings is always LIT. Even if my dad’s side of the family doesn’t understand the lyrics to my mom’s Julio Iglesias jams, they still get up to dance and these are some of the most fun times ever.

Even though I faced frustrating situations for being Afro-Latina (aka myself), growing up with my bestie who was also raised in a dual-cultural household made situations like these more bearable.

CREDIT: CHRISTINA HENDERSON

We both understood that we weren’t tied down to just one race, one culture, one identity. We both understood that being told we weren’t “Black enough,” “Mexican enough,” “Salvadorian enough,” or “Filipino enough,” was not a comment worth dreading on. We were ourselves, and that was always enough.

I felt like we were like the real Dragon Ball Z fusion – two in one – and we loved and embraced this every single day.

CREDIT: DRAGON BALL Z / OCEAN GROUP

Just like the fusion of Trunks and Gohan in Dragon Ball Z, being both Salvadorian and African-American only makes me a bigger and better person.

Despite the ups and downs, I’d never trade being the best of both minorities for anything.

CREDIT: CHRISTINA HENDERSON

I’ll always own it and forever be proud.


– By Christina Henderson, as told to Jessica Garcia.


READ: 11 Awesome Ways Latinos And Filipinos Are Totally Connected


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Why I Put Aside My Greatest Fear For A Good Cause

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Why I Put Aside My Greatest Fear For A Good Cause

Araceli Cruz

I’m not a wallflower by any means. I’m pretty social and thrive on being a leader as well as being a team player, but hand me a mic and I freeze up.

CREDIT: Giphy

There’s no doubt that public speaking is my greatest fear. I’ve never been good at speaking in front of a crowd, no matter the topic, it’s just not my forte. Like I said, I can lead a group, speak in meetings, even give a presentation, but I have stage fright is too real – and I have no idea why. Needless to say, my fear of public speaking has been a huge drawback for me. I’m sure it has cost me in more ways that I can even imagine.

So when I was asked to give a speech to a group of college graduates last month, I was flattered, but also completely scared.

I also knew I couldn’t say no, and here’s why…

I was devastated after the presidential election, and I realized that I had to do something positive for my community or else I’d go on feeling worthless. I made a conscious choice to be proactive and help the Latino community in whatever way I could. My new year’s resolutions definitely did not include “get over fear of public speaking,” but it was to give back and to be of use.

I was informed that I’d be speaking to a group of Latino college students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BSo9W0BAjGU/?taken-by=uncglambdas

The group consisted of two Latino organizations: the Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

I was also told that this special graduation ceremony was held because Latinos on campus wanted to recognize the hard work and dedication that our community puts into the University. The ceremony would also be in both English and Spanish to engage the families of graduates who, many of them have not felt connected to the University partly because there may have been a language barrier. But most importantly, they wanted an additional gathering in order to encourage current students to continue working towards graduation and not get discouraged.

Here I was presented with an opportunity that fell in line with contributing a positive change. I couldn’t decline the invitation.

I accepted the challenge and now I had to get to work.

CREDIT: Giphy

Writing the speech wasn’t completely difficult. I knew that I wanted to discuss the challenges Latinos face once they become working professionals. The hard part was practicing and reading my speech out loud.

Several people advised me that if I wanted to pull off this speech I would have to practice and practice and practice until I knew each word by heart. I practiced as best as I could, or I should say, as best as my ADD would allow me to. Either way, there was no backing out now.

When I arrived to give my speech, I was told there’d be around 30 people in the room. I thought “that’s not so bad, I can handle that.” Then I saw this…

CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

I was calm until I saw the program, with my picture on it! It really threw me for a loop. The whole thing really felt like a bigger deal at that point. The title of the program was “Si Se Puede!” And that was perfect. It was the encouragement I needed.

Then something extraordinary happened…

I met the students and talked to them briefly before the ceremony. Their cool and composed demeanor really put my nerves at ease.

CREDIT: Frederick Serrano-Jimenez

Each and every one of them were so nice to me. Their stories gave me the strength I needed to get up there and speak.

Then the time finally came. I had to get up there and give my speech. I won’t include my entire speech but here’s some of it, including the part that always made me choke up.

“When I was back in that dark place, living at home, taking for granted that I had a roof over my head, I’d look at pictures of my parents when they worked in the fields. The pain that I was going through was nothing compared to the hardships that my parents experienced as first generation Mexican immigrants in this country. They worked picking strawberries or taking care of other people’s kids. They scrimped and saved, and always had to fight to pay the bills. I was afforded the privilege of working in New York because of them, and I was not about to let them down — or myself.”

You can read the entire thing here.

So how did I do? Not bad, but not great either.

CREDIT: Giphy

I tried to make eye contact with the audience while also saying the right words and it was really difficult for me. But the most important thing is that I did it! I didn’t hide or run out of the room.

Looking back now, I didn’t necessarily put my fear aside to accomplish this task. My fear stayed with me the entire time I was at the podium, but I conquered my goal regardless.

My desire to inspire and help others became bigger than my fear of public speaking and I am so grateful that I could see beyond myself.

CREDIT: That’s me and the graduates!

Aside from the stress, I do look forward to doing it again!


READ: This Latina Blamed Her Parents For Her Lack Of Education When She Was A Teen, Now She Is Graduating From UC Berkeley And Thanking Them

What is your biggest fear? Let us know by sharing this story and commenting in the section below! 

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