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.