@blaxicansofla Gets an Intimate Portrayal of What It’s Like Growing Up Black & Mexican
It’s already difficult trying to convince your others that you’re Mexican, Salvadoran or even Latino enough. But being part of two minority groups is twice the battle. @blaxicansofla is a platform that captures the true experience of biracial black and Mexicans living in Los Angeles.
It started with Walter Thompson-Hernandez who created this account dedicated to the research he was doing in grad school.
"My mother is from Jalisco, Mexico and my father is from Oakland, California. They met in South LA in the early 1980s and came of age in this community. My mother was almost always the only Mexican woman in my father's circles and vice versa. There was explicit racial discrimination that they had to navigate through for their relationship to have a chance. On top of that, South LA, in the mid-1980s, was experiencing one of the largest demographic, racial, and social transformations that it had ever encountered. And there was a strong movement to divide African American and Latinos in and around LA. Defining myself, with the understanding of this historical context, is why I have always said that identifying as a Blaxican is a political and revolutionary act." ?: @mychivas
“I have always said that identifying as Blaxican is a political and revolutionary act,” he said in his personal account.
Dozens have joined his efforts and agree that Blaxican is it’s own identity.
"I'm both. But I'm starting to learn that being mixed is its own identity. I kind of get to walk on both sides of the fence. But it's a double edged sword because both sides (Black and Mexican) see me as one of their own. But I tend to self-identify as Black because I often felt ostracized by my Mexican side because I didn't speak Spanish growing up. The linguistic barrier was a big thing. I was always getting sideways looks from my Latino family. My Black family was more accepting." ?: @mychivas
And that the discrimination they face may be more than what others experience – But it has only made them more powerful.
"To be a Blaxican woman in LA is like being in the unknown majority. There are so many of us, but many do not acknowledge our presence. People like to put us in one circle or box, when in all actuality, we fit in so many. Being Blaxican in LA is rich and beautiful – rich in culture, rich in history, rich in understanding, and rich in struggle. As a Blaxican woman, I know first hand what it feels like to be discriminated against or in the minority (I mean 1. I'm a woman 2. I'm Mexican 3. I'm Black), but because I am all of this and more – I understand my strength and power and who I come from." ?: @mychivas
Especially because they’ve had the strength to not identify with one group or the other.
Because why should anyone have to pick sides?
"I feel that one of the biggest challenges with being a Blaxican is having to identify with one or the other. After living in Mexico I lived with my dad. He's Black and from Philly. But he exposed me to every ethnicity imaginable. We lived in Chinatown, Pasadena, Baldwin Hills, and South Central, so for a while I just identified as Black. As I got older I learned to embrace both cultures equally. I've experienced life as a Mexican, I've experienced life as a Black male. It's a wonderful mix." ?: @mychivas
Or be discriminated by their own race?
"I went to Mexico when I was five. It was nice but I could still feel the division. I'm speaking Spanish but people were looking at me like I was diferente. But my family never discriminated. My great-grandma loved me and treated us good. We could see a couple of stares and could feel a little of that on our backs but nothing bad. But it's difficult here. There's such a divide because even though we are Afro-Latinos and getting our numbers up you don't find too many. In New York you do and they have a good Muslim community out there. So they have a lot going on out there, but in LA our numbers are lower and we got to find where we fit in. That's why I was drawn to this project because it's hard growing up and going to your black family and they would be like why is your hair like that? Oh you got long hair? I'm gonna cut it off. And on your Latino side you're La Morena — it's definitely a struggle and it's good to be open minded." ?: @mychivas
Being Blaxican is beautiful.
"I was raised by a single father. I think it's a pretty unique story because my dad was Mexican and here he was raising me. He used to do my hair, my braids, and everything. He would always tell me that my hair and my dark skin was beautiful. I went to an all white school where everyone had blonde hair and blue eyes and I would never hear that I was beautiful so I needed to hear that. My dad told me a story about how one time this woman stopped him in the middle of the street because she thought that he had kidnapped me because we looked different. He never forgot that moment." ?: @mychivas
Participants are proud to share their parents’ love stories.
Even R&B star Miguel understands the mix of cultures is a unique experience, yet sometimes frustrating.
#Repost @nytimes with @repostapp. ・・・ @miguel at the @boweryhotel in New York, where @malinfezehai photographed him earlier this month. @miguel’s first headlining tour — for his new album #Wildheart — will bring him back to the city in August. On his first two albums, @miguel, 29, presented himself as a typical R&B figure. Now, he's claiming his own more specific identity: a songwriter who finds his hometown — Hollywood, beaches, the suburbs, the ghettos — both around and within himself. “I really am #LosAngeles,” he said. “Not only in the sense that I’m Mexican and black, and they’re the dominating ethnicities in this city, but in the energy of Los Angeles, and how everywhere you go there’s this weird juxtaposition of hope and desperation. And that’s my life, that’s who I am.”
Although some feel they’ve had something to prove…
"My mother came to the U.S. as a teenager from the state of Nayarit in Mexico and my father was creole and from the south. They met when they were both working at the airport. I was raised in a mixed neighborhood with Latinos and Blacks. It was a blessing to be able to experience both cultures. But Latinos would always say that I was a Latina who was trying to be Black, so I had to constantly reclaim my Black heritage that many people did not see because I had light skin. At the end of the day, I think we are an example that both cultures can get along and that differences can unite. I'm proud to be a Blaxican." ?: @mychivas
Most use one word to describe their heritage: proud.
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