12.07.2013

Life is difficult for everyone




I was born in San Diego but I grew up in Tijuana. I went to catholic schools from preschool to high school. I decided to study in the U.S. because I didn’t know what I wanted to major in and, in Mexico, you have to decide right after high school and I wasn’t ready to make that decision.  
I was considered an “international student” because, even when you’re born in the U.S., if you haven’t lived there for at least two years (I don’t know how many you need now), you have to pay too much money even for community college.
I audited classes for a year so I wasn’t just doing nothing. Then my dad was able to pay for two classes per semester for another year. Finding a job was very difficult most likely because I was too shy, had no experience and my accent was stronger. I would get extremely nervous whenever I had to speak English with anyone. I would forget all the words. 
I started taking Child Development classes. I volunteered at a public preschool for a year. I wanted to be a preschool teacher. I took Psychology classes and liked it and wanted to do that for a while. I took a lot of Art and Writing courses. I took classes in San Diego but I was still living with my parents in Mexico. I crossed every day to go to school (and work) for seven years. Crossing that frequently made me a different person. I started to notice things that I didn’t know existed and I’d never questioned.
For example, I noticed that people ask different questions when you cross with your family than when you’re female and alone. It’s also different depending on what time and day you’re crossing. If you cross with your family and say you’re going shopping, most times they’ll leave you alone and say something like “Okay, have a good one”. If you’re a woman and you’re alone they ask and make these types of comments:

1.     Where are you going?
2.     What are you studying?
3.     What were you doing in Mexico?
4.     Are you bringing anything back?
5.     Any boys in the trunk?
6.     Do you have a boyfriend?
7.     I really need to learn Spanish. I’ve heard the best way to learn is to get a Hispanic girlfriend. I’ve heard they’re…good. What do you think?
8.     Any boys in the trunk?
9.     Any fruit or tequila?
10. I’ve seen you before. Don’t you work at the outlets?

Whenever this happens, I always have to force myself to smile because, after sometimes waiting for more than three hours to cross, sadly, I can’t afford to waste more time having to deal with the consequences of defending myself. 
I’m not a token. I’m a minority. Not in quotes. I think it’s easy to label people. I’m not a fan of that. What is the purpose of labeling and putting the label in quotes? Questioning the label? Saying that there are real and fake minorities? I believe you either are a minority or you’re not. You consider yourself a minority or you don’t. I’m definitely a minority. And not only am I a minority in the U.S., I’m also a minority in Mexico. I’m Mexican-American but I write in English and that upsets a lot of people. I also want to say that I used to identify as Mexican but after studying in the U.S. for years, I now identify as Mexican-American.
People frequently make comments about my Spanish and my English. Some people are supportive and say both are good. Others make strange comments about how “awkward” I am in both. People are entitled to their opinions. I can’t make everyone happy. I believe I’m free to write about whatever I want and, luckily, I can choose which language I want to express myself in. I got bullied and have issues just like everyone else but I’m proud of who I am and where I come from. If labels are so important and useful and necessary I would say I identify as a pixel poet. This is all very complicated. I might write more about this later. I think it's important that we talk about things. 

7 comments:

Pedro Cota said...

And I thought I've had a hard time dealing with cbp agents at the border. We're a rare breed (born in the US and growing up in Mexico) and, I agree, a minority in both countries, but that makes us even more bad ass. I really enjoyed your post. Thanks for sharing.

spencer madsen said...

i like this post a lot ana. i miss you, and wish we could hang more.

stephen michael mcdowell said...

feel sentiments similar to spencer's, feel glad you think it's important to talk about, really like the title

dierrez said...

I think the border is disgusting. I'm impressed really at the new ways the american government is able to objectify human beings. Especially if they are brown or poor or female. There seems to be a sliding scale of menace depending on those three factors, and some others perhaps that I have failed to note.
It wasn't always this way though. Before people could walk to Dairy Mart from Tercera, without "crossing" anything. The same space bled onto the other. Without interruption. Without examination. So it was.
But then people had to be separated, so they say. And they constructed more and more things to make people believe that they are different from other people. So now strangers I've never met are scared that I'm part of the .002% of the global population that wants to blow shit up. Or perhaps part of a population that has been criminalized because they fucked the economy so bad. Either way, we're treated as threats. And they ask us personal questions. And they have the right to detain us if they don't like our answers. If they don't like our answers. If they don't like. Some people would call this reification. Others, a matter of national security.
I think its sad that people just let this happen. As if they don't have a choice. As if they don't have a choice.
Short thoughts. Buenos días, compañera. Estoy crudo.

shaun gannon said...

; ; ;

Luis Silva said...

I hope you do write more about this. I'd be interested in reading it.

Jeremiah said...

I hope you write more, period. I miss your words. It's been a long time.