Heritage

Last Saturday I sat watching the USA vs. Mexico game with my parents. I cheered on for the United States while my dad was ecstatic over Mexico’s win. Simple enough Saturday night, except it got me thinking. My dad jokingly called me a traitor while I thought it was obvious I should cheer on the team that represented my country, but I really felt torn between the two teams.

My whole life I’ve been told I am a Mexican. My heritage is Mexican, the food I eat is Mexican, my culture is Mexican; it seems that the little part of the world I live in is mostly Mexican. Yet the area I live in is American, the music I listen to is American, the culture I connect with is American. My world to this point is an odd toss up  between American and Mexican. So what should I consider myself?

I don’t feel like I have the right to consider myself truly Mexican. I was neither born nor raised there. I have visited where my family comes from, but my so called family all felt like strangers to me. I had nothing in common with them. I came from a completely different world, and it seemed like they found more amusement in asking about that world than in immersing me in theirs.

Once I did see what their world was like, I realized that I did not share their struggles or their joys. The life they lived was far from what I had always experienced, and not even the shared blood and language we had could change that.

Yet many of my friends in the same situation seemed to strongly believe that they were Mexican. That they should have pride in the country that their families came from, and not the country that they had lived in their whole lives. And as much as I disagreed with doing this, I couldn’t find a way in which I considered myself truly American either.

As much as the American culture and view of the world seemed to be mine, there was so much about the “American” view that I didn’t share. I am the son of immigrants, this country is mine only as much as I work for it. My first language wasn’t that of this country. I grew up in a mixed world and going straight to the American lifestyle doesn’t seem right. I still find some pride in where my family came from. The ties to Mexico weren’t strong enough to let me consider myself Mexican, but their presence kept me from being American.

I feel left without a country to truly consider mine. I feel little connection to the two which should be mine, so I feel at a loss as to where I should believe I am from. I don’t think I could stand by a person from either country and simply say, “I’m just like you.”

I don’t want to simply say I’m Hispanic or Latino either. Those words include even more heritage and culture in them than simply saying American or Mexican. I suppose this is simply the beginning of the melting pot that is the United States. If college applications serve as a foreshadowing of anything, it appears that eventually my family will simply be another Caucasian family. That only leaves me to wonder if those generations that feel they are truly American will find any pride in the Mexican heritage that they carry.

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