Garfield Senior High School

I am Mexican and American

Every time that I get asked the question, “Are you Mexican-American or American-Mexican?” I am unsure how to answer.

I feel like a hypocrite because the answer varies depending on who is asking the question. Well, I finally have an answer. I am American as much as I am Mexican and that goes for anyone who asks.

Being both Mexican and American is draining. I feel as if I have higher expectations as an American for being Mexican. Every single day I have to convince the place I call home that I am American and at the same time I have to convince my  family that I am Mexican.

I feel the need to be more Mexican than Mexicans and more American than Americans because I am both Mexican and American. I have to convince America that I am American even though I was born in this country.

Shouldn’t it be enough to be born in this country? Being an American apparently has rules. How’s that for the country of freedom? For example, you are expected to speak English  because “this is America.” I don’t feel as free as I should feel in this country because I am Mexican. I feel looked down on and I feel like I need to try harder than any other American. I have the right to pursue happiness but because I am Mexican pursuing happiness becomes harder.

Mexicans are great construction and field workers but we are also great lawyers, doctors and poets. If you search “ideal American family,” a white-skinned,  blue or green-eyed, blonde haired family will appear. Well, my family’s hair is not blonde, our eyes aren’t green or blue, and our skin isn’t white but we are still American. I am Mexican and I speak English. I am Mexican and I am proud.

Being both Mexican and American I’m constantly put in a position where I have to choose. If I choose to be Mexican I’m betraying the country that I’ve identified with since I was born.  Yet, if I choose to be American, I’m betraying my morals and traditions. It seems that no matter what I choose, however, I am always  betraying myself. I am betraying myself because being Mexican is just as important to me as being American. I love America, there is everything in abundance. I love Mexico and its culture.

I live in constant pressure. I need to make America proud as well as my family and the Spanish-speaking country in which I also feel at home. Every time that I have a conversation with someone in English I am afraid of saying or pronouncing something wrong. When I visit my family in Mexico, I am afraid of making a mistake when speaking to my relatives. I feel as if the reason for making mistakes in English is because I am Mexican and vice versa and it shouldn’t be that way.

Being born in America makes me an American citizen. Living a life following Mexican beliefs and traditions and relating to Mexican culture makes me Mexican. I shouldn’t  feel the pressure of choosing a side when watching a Mexico vs. USA soccer game because my heart and my soul are rooting for both. What is the problem with being both? Why must I choose?

I am Mexican and I am American. I speak Spanish as well as English. I love burgers as well as enchiladas. If you ask me when is Mother’s Day, I will say May 10 and May 13.

Being an American to me is more than baseball, burgers, and hotdogs. Being an American to me means being myself with no restrictions, the right to an education, and the right to be happy. Being Mexican is more than speaking Spanish, tacos, and mariachi music. Being Mexican means love, family and unity.

I am Mexican and American.