I spent half of my life growing up in a predominantly Latino urban area of New Jersey. The other half, I lived in a predominantly white rural town in Central Florida. Existing in both of these spaces has taught me two things:
- I am “not Latina enough” — whatever that means.
- I am “too Latina” — again, whatever that means.
One thing’s for sure, though: I am a native Spanish speaker. In the era of Donald Trump, however, speaking Spanish may become more difficult, if not dangerous.
I just graduated as a psychology and global cultural studies student at Duke University. At Duke, I spent a lot of time thinking about identity and culture. I reflected a lot on how being a low-income, first-generation college student and first-generation Latina immigrant to the United States impacted my college experience.
My experiences have shaped my identity, and my identity has shaped my experiences.
It has also shaped how I approached my studies: Because of my experiences, I became interested in conducting research on ethnic and racial identity development.
This has led me to spend a lot of time thinking about what it means to belong to a particular group, what it means to be “Latina,” and what it is that makes up my “Latinidad” or my “Latinaness.”