South East High School

Immigration & Identity

A feeling of anxiety exists in every immigrant child. Everyone has an immigrant story. As the daughter of immigrants, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no “American” physical characteristics. The United States is a melting pot.  

Though I was born and raised in California, I am still confused about my roots. Growing up, I hated the question, “Where are you from?” Especially when it came from a Caucasian. I was conflicted and did not know whether to identify as an American or a Mexican. My physical appearance says Mexican, but I was born in the United States, so aren’t I an American? I dislike the term Mexican-American, because this is often used to identify those who have a parent from the U.S. and a parent from Mexico; that is just not me.

The term “ni de aqui ni de alla” is my reality. If, by any chance, I did say I was “American,” I would’ve been asked, “No, I mean like where are you from from?” As if saying “from” twice will make a difference.

I am from the United States.

I was born here.

This is all I have, all I know, all I’ve been exposed to.

I’ve never set foot in Mexico.

Once, a young Mormon Caucasian male addressed me in Spanish. I knew how to speak Spanish, but was shocked that he thought I didn’t know English. I thought, “Wow, I guess I look super Mexican.” I am an American, so why wouldn’t I know how to speak English if it is the most commonly used language in the U.S.?

I am very connected to my Mexican culture, and I am proud of it. Despite my strong connection to my roots, there is always going to be something different about me because of where I am from. I am American.

No one should be conflicted about where they’re from. We are all Americans, despite our physical appearance. The United States is unique, because it is a melting pot of  people with different backgrounds. The U.S. is the immigrant country. The freedom country. Various beliefs, cultures and languages are what makes the U.S. what it is now; it shouldn’t be any other way.