LIVING UNDER PERCEPTION
by: Jessica Salgado
Imagine the first 13 years of your life thinking you were an immigrant because society had made you think so. I didn’t know I was born in Long Beach until I was finally comfortable enough to ask my parents where I was born. All I heard growing up was “go back to your country.”
I was born and raised in the “ghetto” part of Long Beach. The part where police sirens go off and you don’t know whether those popping sounds outside are fireworks or gunshots.
I remember in my third year in college I was talking to my spanish teacher from highschool and he asked me what ethnicity I was. I told him I was Mexican. Then he ask me what part of Mexico. Then I answered…”well my parents are from Guerrero.”
He snapped back and said you’re not Mexican, you’re chicana. I never thought I’d get a reaction like that from one of the coolest teachers I had in high school.
I’m just a brown girl, born in Long Beach. What else can I do wrong?
Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla once said:
“We have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans, both at the same time. It’s exhausting!”
This was 22 years ago. And it still holds true to not only Mexicans but Latinos in general.
It’s crazy how my life has been out of balance in my multicultural relationships. From kinder until I was a senior in high school, I had black, asian and latino friendships.
It seems like now the tables how turned. I only see a handful of people of color and white people all around campus. It was sort of a culture shock once I got to college. It was like, where’s all the people I grew up with?
I work as a teacher’s aide here in LB unified. As a Latina woman, I feel like God gave me the talent to encourage people of color into higher education. I’m not going to let people like the person who’s name rhymes with Dump make Latinos fear for their lives nor any other person of color.
No, I’m not a drug dealer. No, I’m not a rapist. I am human. Yo soy Latina.
Two years ago, when I started IV, I remember joining LaFe, Latino Christian Fellowship. I was really comfortable knowing my people were here. I slowly started to attend large group. I saw a large amount of white and Asian people. A few months later, I joined Media Team. It was pretty cool seeing people from different backgrounds. Most recently I joined Art Team and got into Worship team. It was God telling me to meet him halfway.
I’ve learned that we as people have shared the same feelings. Some of us have the same issues, which not having to do with the color of our skin, making our community relatable to each other. We must understand our cultural barriers and give a voice to our brothers and sisters of color.
I want to challenge you all to reach out to our brothers and sisters in this multicultural community here at school and invite them to hear God’s word. I also want to encourage you to get to know those who you haven’t spoken to outside your ethnicity. Not just hi and bye but actually get to know them. You never know how similar we could be. You never know whose life you could save.
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