Sunday, February 26, 2012

Borderland Identity

Since coming to Yale, I have been more conscious about my identity. In my home town of South Central Los Angeles, there are so many Latinos that I never paid much attention to my identity. As a child of two immigrants, I live in the borderlands that Gloria Anzaldúa so beautifully describes.

I am neither Guatemalan nor American. My birth certificate says I am a US citizen. I am a citizen of a country that does not want me. I live in a country where individuals want to end birthright citizenship to prevent people like me from being citizens. I also live in a country where school officials do not want Latinos to learn about nuestra historia. I live in a country in which Spanish is considered the language of the ghetto and poverty by a man who wants to be my president. The United States has also executed an imperialist foreign policy in Guatemala which has greatly impoverished Guatemalans. I also have trouble claiming a country that thinks that people like me are disposable enough to infect Guatemalans with syphilis and other venereal diseases.. I am not Guatemalan either. Although visiting Guatemala fills my heart with joy, my Spanish is foreign, my behavior is too “American”, and I am treated as a tourist. I am also not proud of country in which few families control all of the wealth of the county and a country that does not respect the rights of indigenous people.

Race and Ethnicity are separate from citizenship but yet a large part of one’s own identity. My complexion also complicates how others perceive my ethnic identity. My fair skin and reddish hair have caused many awkward misunderstandings. People have said very racist comments about Hispanics/Latinos while I have been present because they did not believe I was Hispanic. Likewise, I have been called a gringa and been spoken poorly about in Spanish. Growing up, I wanted darker skin so I could be acknowledged as being Latina. I did not like being called a gringa. Now that I am older, I am comfortable with my own skin. The color of my skin does not make me any less or any more Latina. I am Latina because I have a connection and love to Guatemala and Latin America.

I continue to live in the borderland. The terrain on both sides can sometimes be unfriendly. Yet, I will no longer be uncomfortable with the questions of my identity. As Gloria Anzaldúa states ,"Caminante, no hay puentes, se hace puentes al andar" (Voyager, there are no bridges. They are built as you walk). I am forging these bridges that deconstruct identity and citizenship.


Roselyn Cruz

Saybrook College Class of 2015

1 comment:

  1. Girl, I'm right there with you. I wrote a piece last year on the blog about my names and my transition here as a güerra. Check it out!