This is for every Latina that has ever been made to feel as though she was not Latina enough. We have made Latinidad into an identity where you have to wear enough Frida Kahlo, eat tacos, and have barrio swag to rep Latinidad. Latinidad suddenly needs to be proved to no one in particular but to everyone at the same time. We act as though there are gates keeping some of us in while excluding others.
Well I have news for you: Nothing you do makes you any less
Latina or more Latina. Being Latina is
something you are born into if your parents or parent is Latinx. Because while Kylie Jenner can wear all the Selena
shirts she wants and she will never be Latina, Selena
Quintanilla had to learn to speak Spanish and her Latinidad remains intact.
There is a lot of pressure to perform woke Latina things like repping Selena (which I do), and salsa (which I also love), and eating homemade Latinx food, BUT check it: my Latinidad goes nowhere even when I buy into non-mainstream Latinx things. So here’s a list of things that do not take away Latinidad in the slightest:
1. You can love anime. Our interests are vast and pure and quite frankly anime drama mirrors telenovelas in a way that nobody is talking about!
2. You can skip your quince. Nobody cares, because only Catholic Latinas have quinces and we are not all Catholic. Also, not all of us were into the frilly girly aspect of it all! Furthermore, not all of us could afford it.
3. You can love chicken and waffles. That is okay! You can also love fast food, organic food, be a vegetarian, pescetarian, etc. How you have chosen to nourish your body is your prerogative.
4. You can dye your hair blonde! Shocker, white people do not have a monopoly on blonde hair, and dying your hair does not mean you are ashamed of being brown. You can also dye your hair pink, purple, blue, red, etc.
5. You can date whomever you please. A non-Spanish speaking Latinx, or a white person, black person, a person from East Asia, Africa, etc. You partner does not ever get to have enough power to change or alter your natural born right to call yourself Latinx. Spoiler alert: Nobody has that much power!
Related from Vivala: What's Wrong With Voluntourism?
6. You can love going to music festivals. White people do not own that pastime either, and yes there are problematic things happening in regards to appropriation, but quite frankly if music is your means of healing or self-care, do it! Remember: Your life, your rules.
7. You can have white friends. Intentional friendships are critical, and problematic friends come in all shapes, ethnicities, races, and sizes. Nobody can decide who you should be friends with, and if you feel “safe” with a certain friendship, go with it!
8. You do not have to speak Spanish. Did you know that originally we did not speak Spanish, but learned it forcefully to survive? English is also a colonizers language. On our tongues, communal stories of survival that dates back to our indigenous ancestors are written. Speaking Spanish does not make you more Latinx.
9. You can be punk, mainstream, or preppy (or anything you want to be). What you are into is a product of a context: your context. Do not let anyone externally regulate your life and aesthetics.
10. You can be timid and shy. Because
the idea that we are all loud and animated is extraordinarily classist and
makes a caricature of our entire raza.
Allow yourself to live as you are.
We are not immune to feeling as though someone is going to take our Latinx card away for not doing and being what some external force deems is "Latinx enough." As a Nicaraguan-born immigrant, who speaks Spanish as my first language, presents indigenous, and has Spanish-speaking parents who never assimilated nor learned English, I STILL GET THE FEELING THAT SOMEONE WILL REVOKE MY LATINA CARD. Which is wrong! So whenever I see a timid, light-skinned, non-Spanish speaking, nerdy mixed Latinx expressing a sense of shame about not feeling Latina enough, I make it my mission to embrace them because I want nothing to do with controlling and patrolling the choices of Latinxs, ever.