As originally posted on Xicana Chronicles
For much of my life I hid my identity somewhere comfortably between Mexican and Tejano. As a particularly brown girl with a funny sounding name, I could leave many confused if I started to explain that I am not an immigrant. Explaining my identity was so hard for people who assumed my brown skin meant I was not an American. It’s even harder to assuage brown people who think you are “ashamed” of being Mexican when you tell them you are not an immigrant.
My family has been in Texas over 9 generations. We lost our native ways somewhere along the path but not our knowing. We were just fine being called Tejano for the most part… but I am nosy. Questions of race and identity have always intrigued me so after earning an anthropology degree, and many life experiences later, I know that there is no need for explanation for what simply is. I am an indigenous woman.
For any Hispanic or Latina or even self identified Chicana reading this, I want to tell you this was not easy. You yourself may be struggling with understanding why this should even matter. I want to help you get there if I can.
In our Hispanic-Latino-Mexican communities we play the game.
Reaffirming ones TRUE identity can be nearly impossible when everyone around you invest themselves in the false name game. I grew up in a Tex-Mexican community. Being Mexican is almost a euphemism because the last thing most Mexicans want to be called is an indian. So no one really asks, are you an indian? They just politely assume I am one of them…reader please note that polite is never assuming one is indian.
This is the game where Latinos-Mexicans-Hispanics are aware that they have native blood, but act like they don’t know that their grandma was an indian. This is the game where we all allude to our one Spanish grandpa like he is who made us matter. It’s the game that seems completely harmless until we get to the end, which is now. At this point in the game we are nearly erased by the books for who we actually are. We are a foot note in the white man’s horror story turned fairy tale. They can now write about the noble DEAD indian…because we no longer exist in the collective conscious as living and thriving despite all that has been placed on us.
Its time to face up to the real destruction we are causing ourselves by being Hispanic- Latino-Mexican in this country. Most of you may be immigrants by the white man label, but as far as I can see you are my relative. That means anyone that is my realative is welcomed in my home. So I suppose this sort of thinking leaves certain whites highly afraid of the social “repercussions” of dropping false identities. By continuing to use false Racial terms we have ENDED our legitimate rights to live and be free on this land as our ancestors before us. Its time to change the rules of this game!