MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY? #NOTHINGTOCELEBRATE #NADAQUECELEBRAR

So here you are, too foreign for home.. too foreign for here. Never enough for both.
— Ijeoma Umebinyuo (Diaspora Blues)

I come from a beautiful country, a place so rich in culture, traditions, and landscapes.  Unfortunately this place has become foreign to me, Mexico City has become a distant, blurry memory since my family migrated to the U.S. in pursuit of "The American Dream".  I have not returned to my homeland in 23 years.  Writing this blog post on this day which is marked as Mexico's Independence Day (no Cinco De Mayo is not Independence Day) makes me feel some type of emotional.  As I get older I become more aware of the sad state of my country, the stagnant economy, the allegations of a corrupt government, the numerous human rights abuses, the disappearances, the crooked police, the ongoing femicide, the murders of innocent people such as the missing 43 trainee teacher students of Guerrero and multiple journalists who speak against the higher powers.  It's not shocking that finally the people of Mexico are displaying their frustration by protesting and boycotting.  As I was scrolling down my Facebook timeline I noticed the hashtag #nadaquecelebrar (nothing to celebrate).  The people of Mexico promoted a boycott of the annual Independence Day celebration at the public square "El Zocalo" in the capital where the President leads the ceremony.  I also noticed many of my Mexican friends write posts about their choice to not celebrate "El Grito" this year.  

Being a Mexican born woman living in America for the majority of my life makes me  feel a bit torn between two worlds.  On one hand, I'm very proud of my roots, I'm very proud to be Mexican, I'm very in tune with my culture and speak my native language fluently.  I will never deny being foreign in this country and I refuse to be ashamed of my family's humble roots.  However, growing up I had issues speaking up about my background because of the way other kids would pick on my accent or pick on my parent's not speaking english. I particularly recall my first day of American school not knowing any English whatsoever and being in a classroom where the substitute teacher kept yelling a directive at me in English with the knowledge that I only spoke Spanish while all the kids laughed because I didn't know what to do.  I also recall being in Mrs. Flook's 5th grade class and having her tell me in front of everyone that I had no chance of ever going to college because my parents didn't have college degrees. During this time I had been placed in a Magnet school for advanced learning and we were having career day, but my parents didn't come.  I realized that even though I had displayed a higher level of intelligence, I was still being "punished" for my background. I always felt like I didn't really belong and tried desperately to fit in to the American culture by perfecting my speech and working really hard to get rid of my accent and by not bringing many friends around to my home so they wouldn't go back to school and talk about my parents and the way we lived.  Getting through school and High School was tough because my parents grew up in Mexico so their traditions were very different from the ones here.  They didn't know what a prom was, they didn't know how to advice me on taking SAT tests or check on my academic progress. All they knew, and to this day know, is hard work "labor" work.  To them it was important to instill that trait first and foremost.  They meant well, they wanted to see us succeed but didn't really know how to lead us.  Therefore, it was confusing to feel fully in tune with the American culture.  

On another hand I maintained a sense of my roots & culture through my home life but started adopting the American life throughout  time to the point that we really didn't remain in communication with anyone back in Mexico or go back to visit anyone.  When my mom would randomly hand me the phone to speak with a relative in Mexico, I didn't know what to say, I didn't know how to connect, I had no desire to care.  I started to feel like I didn't fully fit in to that side of me either.  So here I was, too American for the Mexicans and too Mexican for the Americans.

Needless to say, I began adopting my own belief system through the years.   I can't deny where I come from, it's something I cannot change.  I can't say I'm a full pledged American, I'm not a citizen.  

When a coworker today asked me how I felt about the protests and boycotts against this year's Mexican Independence Day, I felt confused for a second, then that feeling turned into indifference, and then all of a sudden it turned into a moment of introspection.  Why do I feel confused? Why am I indifferent?

I had to be really honest with myself.  As proud as I am of my heritage, I am not proud of the corrupt state Mexico is in, my mother birthed me in my homeland and 7 years later she re-birthed me when she and my father brought me and my siblings to America.  I have spent 23 years adopting my American life and taking the route of self education since I couldn't afford college or qualify for scholarships due to my lack of American Citizenship.  To this day I still get tongue tied when reading in English and fail to pronounce some words right.  America has brought a multitude of opportunities to me but it has also limited me from many opportunities due to the fact that I was born in Mexico.  I suppose my confusion comes from not being able to fully identify with either place. Mexico has done nothing for me beside being the place I was born and America doesn't seem to want me or people like me here unless we're doing the labor work and heavy lifting they need. That is why I feel indifferent to any type of celebration or boycott.  

I cannot solve anything with a boycott or a celebration.  I can however continue to prepare myself  and continue learning so that I can become fully free in my mind and that is what I celebrate as independence.  I cannot change the horrible things that are going on in either country, but I can change the course of my life and grow to my full potential and encourage others to do the same through my work.  It is the small ripples that create big waves and I'm in the ripple making business.  

I don't know how to feel about Independence Day here or there.  I don't know if all the protests or boycotts will change anything. What I do know is that complaining won't change a thing.  Knowledge followed by purposeful action creates change.  I will continue learning, growing and evolving and hope that perhaps one day I can be an example to the people like me, who feel like they don't belong anywhere, and are expected to become nothing. 

Meanwhile let us celebrate.... not for any other reason but the celebration of life.

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