The intersectionality of my identities is something that I’ve always struggled with, especially my racial identity as a Black and Mexican person growing up in South Pasadena’s mostly Asian and white environment. My environment has shaped who I am and the way that I view myself.
And while it is not my fault that I have not been raised around people who look like me, lately I’ve been beating myself up over my lack of knowledge about my own cultures.
I find it ironic that I wrote so many articles about feeling alienated from the South Pasadena environment, when I feel in some ways even more alienated from my true racial identities.
I spent a lot of my life walking the line between being ashamed and embarrassed of my culture and being resentful towards white people. Honestly, I feel like a fraud. I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere.
But I’m not writing about this simply to complain and wallow in the fact that I have been torn away from my cultures all of my life. I’ve decided that I want to learn more about my cultures and where I come from.
I spent so long avoiding the fact that I have so much to learn about Black and Mexican culture, because I was so ashamed that I didn’t know everything already. But now I realize that avoiding the issue is even more harmful. Avoidance enables me to just never go out and make an effort to explore and figure out the diverse roots of my cultural personhood.
And so I’m also encouraging all of my fellow whitewashed brown people who have grown up in the sheltered bubble of South Pasadena to explore their identity as a person of color. You are not alone in your feeling of alienation, whether it be from South Pasadena or from your own culture.
Now is the time to take back your identity.
Start by asking your parents about your familial history. Ask them about cultural practices in your family. Ask them to show you old family pictures. Ask them about their own childhoods.
Read books about your culture and from your culture. Learn the history of your culture. Read articles about your culture. Learn about famous people from your culture. Watch films from your culture.
I haven’t completed my self-discovery journey yet, and I don’t think that I’ll ever stop exploring my cultures and figuring out who I am and how I fit into my cultures. But what I do know is that learning more about my people has already helped me take pride in who I am and will continue to do so.