Identity. It is that one thing that defines you as a person. More so it is the reason you act the way you do. Your background is what makes you who you are, then your life experiences create the person you strive to be.
Identity. It is beautiful yet troubling at times.
I know all about the troubles.
At the age of 10, I could already tell that I was different. Different in all aspects from my peers surrounding me. You would think growing up in the middle of one of the most diverse cities in the world would be a piece of cake. However, I always felt like an alien, a mutt, a stranger in my own street.
My olive skin runs deep with the Arab blood. My eyes, dark and almond shaped like my grandmother; her hijab covering her black hair. No hijab covers my head with a head full of crazy curls and the light brown texture of my Latina mother. My hips are curved and my lips are thin and full just like my mother’s.
I am my own breed of life; my own standard of identity. I am me
But I’ve struggled my entire life with people placing me in categories.
Check one please. Are you of Puerto Rican identity? Are you Arab American? (Choose one)
I choose Other, like a person who did not know who they are would. an alien, thats what i choose. And yet I take it with pride, because I’ve learned over the years to be equally proud of both of my identities.
There was a time when I couldn’t stand proud to be both Arab and Spanish. After September 11th I spent close to 5 years denying that I had any Arab blood. Friends would ask me my nationality and I would insist that I was full Spanish, but even they knew I was different.
And then I lost a part of me. I lost something that was left deep down in the olive skin i wear everyday. I lost everything that made me.
After some selfless thinking, I swore to myself that I would never deny who I was. I would never hide in the shadows of a past event. I would stand tall for all to see who I truly am.
Eventually, coming to college helped me surround myself with intellectuals, the ignorance still exists but now I can back up my identity with pride.
I think back to that little girl I used to be. Lost in my own mixture. Lost because my parents raised me in two religions, two nationalities, and opened my mind to all that this world can offer.
I stand now with all the pride a woman can hold in her heart. I love my mix. I love when people ask me what my nationality is. I love coming home to my rice and beans with my favorite Palestinian kanafa on the side. I love writing Arabic letters on my notes. I love speaking Spanish to the local Spanish lady at the store. I love that I can go anywhere in the world and feel somewhat accepted.
But most of all I love that no matter what my life may endure, my identity will always remain apart of me.
Mixed and Proud