I cannot count how many times I have been asked, “Where are you from?” and after replying, “America” I am asked “Where are you really from?”
My answer has always been “I was born and raised in America”, and in the beginning, I never saw anything wrong with that. Yet, I have been told so many times that I am not really American that it has really carried my mind to wonder. What does it even mean to be American? Why do I not look American? Is it because I am not white?
I never thought people would get so worked up about me saying I am from America. But now I sit here and cannot stop thinking about it. Why do I say I am from America if I am Mexican-American? Should I explain to others that my parents were born in Mexico but I was born in America? Why do I have to explain myself to others? If I do not explain my parents’ backgrounds, does that mean I am ashamed of my Mexican heritage? I am proud to be Mexican and I am so proud of my heritage yet, I am so confused about who I am.
I am Mexican-American but my official nationality is American. But what does that even mean? Does a birth certificate really define your nationality? My parents wanted us to have dual citizenship but their parents lived in poverty in Mexico and the legal documents needed to apply for dual citizenship are lost and that is out of their control. Therefore, if it was up to me and my parents I would have dual citizenship. My parents did what they could for us. They came to America to provide a better future for our family and in America they created a better life and in the process they created us. I studied abroad while attending an American university and I will return home to America. However, I cook Mexican dishes and I speak Spanish. I celebrate Mexican holidays and I love Spanish music. My family and I have created our own Mexican-American culture and I love every aspect of it. We made America our home and that is why I am American.