Growing up I was always subjected to this mindset that expressing ones culture was “chunti” or to speak Spanish made you a “paisa”. We are taught to embrace our culture, yet when we do we are victims of discrimination. As a Latina, I was taught white was the standard of beauty, I was taught that my parents legal status could be questioned at any moment and I was taught that speaking my native tongue would make me Un-America. God forbid you aren’t as American as apple pie. I am from the working class. The immigrants who assimilated to a new culture, the happy drunks who felt comfort in listening to salsa. I didn’t begin to embrace who I was up until I was much older. As I got older, I began appreciating all the lessons that came with struggle. All the values that come with culture and the beauty of being bilingual.
I came to learn that being a latino means more than the stereotypes. We aren’t just great gardeners and great housekeepers. We are people who were raised among struggle and somehow we’re happy. My first words were in Spanish; I rolled my R’s the same time I took my first steps. I am Peru. I am American. I am the Inca and I come from a history of colonization. I am the soil that grows potatoes, I may not live in the mountains taking care of my llamas but I am an extension of that. I will always be a Latina and I will always carry a history of oppression. I will always be characterized as stereotypes that diminish my intelligence and demean my skin.
Yet, I do not fret I smile and enjoy my salsa music. I am not the victim I am the fighter. I will always fight for my right to not be categorized as only a journalist for Univision, I will fight for my right to prove that the color of my skin does not define my literacy. I will fight to prove that being well spoken doesn’t make me “white washed”. I may be brown but the color of my skin isn’t who I am. I am not just a brown person I am a writer, student, friend, daughter, girlfriend, runner and I am everything and everyone that fought for my right to have an education. I will not be submissive. I will not tolerate oppression.
I would rather know that I never accepted injustice at the cost of keeping normality. Simply, because I know that racism isn’t a thing of the past. Skin color isn’t an indicator of what type of person someone is . As a Latina it is my responsibility to always remember that being referred to, as Indigenous isn’t an insult, it is a compliment. Damn right I am Peru.