I’m a proud Mexican American/Chicana/Hispanic/Latina woman who didn’t cross a border but was born here legally of two legal citizens, one who is Mexican, the other who is white. My mami is Mexican but she also didn’t cross the border, my grandparents are Mexican but they didn’t cross a border either, in fact if you trace it back, the border crossed us. My ancestors lived in Texas when it was part of Mexico and when the borders were drawn they just happened to live on the inside of the Texas border, and just barely on the inside, if you were to walk a block down from their house you could literally see the border crossing check point. My dad is Irish, Italian, French and Spanish, his Spanish/Italian dad met his Irish/French mom, my grandma Betty’s grandma immigrated from Ireland through Elis Island and her dad was born of French immigrants. My point is that my lineage is comprised of immigrants but looking at me you’d think the immigrants I’m talking about are Mexican, not the case.
About a month ago I heard about Tuscan getting rid of their Mexican-American studies courses and banning a bunch of books they deemed “anti-white” . Now as I librarian I don’t condone banning books of any kind, I believe if you don’t want your kid to read something don’t let them, but don’t try to wipe the book out entirely, but banning books that help to educate a segment of the population about their histories and their ancestors is deplorable, I don’t get it. So should we stop teaching children about slavery and the holocaust because they paint white people and germans in a less than favorable light? Of course not, that’s American history, that’s our history as a nation.
I was lucky enough to take some Chicano/a studies courses in college and it helped me tremendously to identify myself and to see the positives in being a Chicana, trust me that’s hard when you’re too Mexican to be white and too white to be Mexican. It helped me to understand my cultura and our customs and practices but never did I leave class feeling “anti-white” I was left feeling 100% me positive, I left feeling at peace with myself as a person, I left feeling educated about my history and my family’s history, and if we don’t learn about our past mistakes aren’t we doomed to repeat them.
I left those classes understanding that my life would have been 100% different if my ancestors had lived less than a mile south then where they did. I left understanding why so many people risk their lives crossing the border to get the American dream. I left understanding that I’m a proud American but an even prouder Mexican-American because that’s what I am, an American by birth place but a Mexican by birth right. I don’t have to be one or the other, I can definitely be both.