CLICK FOR HOPE | WILL I LOOK TOO ETHNIC OR UNPROFESSIONAL

 Photo: Authentic Adventure Co.

Photo: Authentic Adventure Co.

What does being a Latina mean to you?:

Being Latina to me, means being loud, strong and humble all in one. It means representing a culture that is so vibrant and rich in history yet lacking in representation in the US.

Share a struggle you have faced being a Latina.:

Being a LATINA in a male dominated industry has it challenges. I have to work twice as hard as my male counterparts. If I have a strong opinion I am just being bitchy. It often means being pitted against other females because I believe that is how men believe we operate. I walked into a meeting once with my boss very early on in my career and an executive of the organization we were meeting with said, "Oh I didn't know we could bring dates." I was infuriated and enraged but had to smile and move on, as it was a very high profile client. Sometimes it means having to think about trivial things more then most for example, if I wear hoop earrings to work will I look too ethnic or unprofessional. I write this as my white female colleague is wearing large hoop earrings and was complemented. However, when I wore them, I was told, “Hey you remind me of that ‘Around the Way Girl,’ music video by LL cool J. (true story).

Share something you love about being a Latina?:

I love our stereotypes! Don't make a Latina mad. I love being viewed as feisty.

What do you identify as?: Proud Guatemalan!!!

Where you born in the states? If not, could you share what your experience has been being an immigrant, and the process of becoming a US citizen, resident, etc. (Share only what you are comfortable with):

I was born in Guatemala and came here at a young age. We came as residents which is why my dad decided we would just live here permanently. We applied for visas to come visit my grandmother who had moved here and we received green cards instead. (it was the 80's so I know that would never happen now) I still have not become a US citizen because Guatemala does not have dual citizenship. I have a certain emotion but will ultimately become a citizen as I have lived here over 30yrs now.

How have you been able to celebrate and honor your american nationality, while embracing your heritage and culture?:

I think I have developed American traditions with my own family while staying true to who I am.

My family is a melting pot so we have merged everything. My husband is half Japanese Half Scottish, my son is Mexican, Guatemalan and a quarter German. So we take a little from here and a little from there. My step son speaks Japanese and My son speaks Spanish.

Do you speak spanish?: Yes, fluently.

Have you experienced colorism, or not being fully accepted by your community? Like you're too dark, or too white, etc. Please share anything you'd like to share!:

I don't know that I feel I have experienced colorism as I am tan skinned so I probably fall right in the middle. I have experienced my family back home saying that my accent is different and I seem more American. lol

Is there something else you'd like to say or add?:

I love anything and everything that highlights Latinos!

CLICK FOR HOPE | MY CURLS REPRESENT MY ETHNIC ANCESTRY

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What does being a Latina mean to you?:

Being Latina means being proud of my heritage. It means adding sofrito in even the non-latino recipes. It means imagining how the next American pop song on the radio would sound like in bachata, salsa or reggaeton. It means preferring my homemade Bustelo cafe con leche over the trendy coffee. It means yelling “OH MY GOD “ when I hear the song “Suavemente” get played at an event for the 1,000th time and I still get up and dance like it’s the first time. It means being able to recite some novela songs that my mom and aunts used to watch, like “Tres Mujeres Un Camino” or “Mari Mari Mar.” I love being a Latina.

Share a struggle you have faced being a Latina.:

Allow me to share a couple of struggles: As an urban Latina millennial, it’s hard to fit in. I’m too hipster for the Latinos too Latina for the hipsters. Also, I am currently going through a curly hair journey. Which means I am learning to take proper care of my curls and love them. And let’s be honest, the beauty market hasn’t always been curly hair friendly until recently, partially because curly hair is trending. There are more hair products available for eliminating curls. Since I was a child I was taught to hide my curls because they’re hard to manage. My mom put a relaxer in my hair at 13, just when my hair was getting more curly with puberty. She relaxes her hair. I don’t recall ever seeing my mom go outside with her curls. My maternal grandmother had beautiful curly hair but always styled it in a bun. I want to break the generational curse of anti-curl habits. Why? Because it is part of my families DNA, our heritage that continues to appear in every generation of my family. My curls represent my ethnic ancestry; Spanish, African and Taino. My daughters have curly to wavy hair and I want to make sure I teach them to maintain and love their natural hair.

Share something you love about being a Latina?:

I love being a Latina because I can communicate, connect and relate with other Latinos across Latin America. I love being a part of a passionate community with a rich and lively culture.

What do you identify as?: Puerto Rican

Where you born in the states? If not, could you share what your experience has been being an immigrant, and the process of becoming a US citizen, resident, etc. (Share only what you are comfortable with): Yes!

How have you been able to celebrate and honor your American nationality, while embracing your heritage and culture?:

I’ve had the honor to participate in many Puerto Rican cultural shows displaying dance, stories and music. I am currently acting in “There’s a Coqui in my Shoe” a theatrical adaptation based on an award winning children’s book. It will premiere at The Miracle Center during Hispanic Heritage month starting Sept. 21. Audiences will learn about the importance of the Coqui on the island, learn about different places and enjoy live music and dance. This show is extra special to me because I’m performing along side my husband, who plays Carlito the Coqui. My daughters, ages 1 and 4, get to see mommy and daddy perform and they will learn more about their heritage. I have also written poems and short stories about my experience living in the hills of Puerto Rico as a child, that I hope to have published someday. I’ve also taught and choreographed Plena, a Puerto Rican folkloric dance form, to younger generations.

Do you speak spanish?: Yes, somewhere in-between fluent, and broken.

Have you experienced colorism, or not being fully accepted by your community? Like you're too dark, or too white, etc. Please share anything you'd like to share!:

Growing up I was very insecure about myself. Living in a Latino community, curves and caramel skin are celebrated and if you have colored eyes it’s a major bonus, at least this was my perspective and experience. My thin physique, along with my “pale” skin, and European/Mediterranean features didn’t quite fit the Latina beauty ideal. People around me were always trying to over feed me. I experienced a lot of body shaming and still do. This led me to have an over eating disorder in my teens, not sure if there’s a proper term for it. I was obsessed with gaining weight.

As for my skin color, I always wanted to have my skin described as something delicious. Some Latinos describe skin color by food or sweets. We have “cafe con leche,” “caramelo” “chocolate” or what I was described as “Blanca,” which isn’t a food. One day a sweet friend of mine said “Your skin is like milk and honey.” YEESSS! I accept that! While living amongst a community with Latina beauty ideals, I also grew up watching shows like Full House and Alex Mack. All mainly Caucasian actors. I would’ve given anything to have blonde or red hair and colored eyes so I could fit into the American idea of beauty, and I sure tried and damaged my hair and probably my eyesight with those cheap colored contacts I used to buy from the Mega Mall as a teen. I wasn’t curvy enough, or blonde enough. The road to self acceptance has been long and painful. Unfortunately, it took years to come to the realization that I am beautiful as I am and that I am handcrafted beautifully by God.

CLICK FOR HOPE | EMBRACING MY LATIN AMERICAN ROOTS

 Photo: Authentic Adventure Co.

Photo: Authentic Adventure Co.

What does being a Latina mean to you?:

Being a Latina means embracing my Latin American roots, representing our customs, culture and diversity proudly, never denying or neglecting its impact and influence on who I am. It means having a genuine concern for the progress of our Latin American countries, fighting for freedoms and striving to pave a way for future generations that will face common struggles, but with dignity and hope that things can change with small but solid steps forward. It’s communicating in our language, dancing to our music, enjoying our food, loving our people.

Share a struggle you have faced being a Latina.:

Being born in Peru and coming to the US as a pre-teen was a culture shock and had to push myself to learn the language and fit in. I’ve always been a go-getter and up to a certain point in my life it felt like things had come fairly easy for me. But going to school here and desiring the opportunities that of tall, beautiful, talented Caucasian girls had, I discovered I had to work twice as hard to prove myself, demonstrate my talent and cause them to even notice me. I’ve also had to shatter stereotypes of ‘peruvians’ as there isn’t a large population of us here and the only exposure most had received of Peru was a show called ‘Laura en America’ which featured Peruvians from the projects and marginalized areas of Peru, those with low resources and poor manners. It’s a version of the US’s Maury show. I’ve been working hard to give exposure to our beautiful culture, our talent and shed a new light on a South American country that’s lived in the shadows for so long.

Share something you love about being a Latina?:

This is something I’ve had to learn to embrace, but today I love that I am different, yet I can identify with different Latin American cultures easily. I don’t have a defined accent. Most say I look and talk ‘Mexican’ (of course based on their limited exposure to Peruvians) but I absolutely love ALL of our rhythms, food and customs. There is so much variety, never dull and lame.

What do you identify as?: Peruvian

Where you born in the states? If not, could you share what your experience has been being an immigrant, and the process of becoming a US citizen, resident, etc.:

My family and I traveled here in 1995 on a student visa because my parents were completing a Masters’ degree at Northern Theological Seminary. Fortunately we were also able to obtain social security cards and were fully documented. Unfortunately, the visa expired after 5 years and then I was documented but illegal. The thought of pursuing a career, going to college without being able to obtain any type of financial aid was scary and discouraging. I had been a good student, in the International Baccalaureate program, and had big dreams but absolutely no means. It wasn’t until I married my husband in 2005 that we were able to fix my status and 6 months later I was a legal resident and 3 years after that I applied for citizenship. My process was relatively easy because of the fact that we had come in legally and of course I had not had any issues with the law. I’m aware that it isn’t as smooth for the majority.

How have you been able to celebrate and honor your American nationality, while embracing your heritage and culture?:

I believe I have developed a loving and respectful relationship with Caucasian and American born citizens. I believe it all comes down to how you treat others, you will earn the same respect. It’s been mainly through music. That’s how I paved my way into people’s hearts since I came here. Singing is how I made new friends and made others smile. My husband and I frequently serve at several Caucasian churches through music and we’ve seen that Music is what really crosses all boundaries and brings people together. I learned to lead worship and minister in English as a young adult and that has opened so many doors for us.

Do you speak spanish?: Yes, fluently.

Have you experienced colorism, or not being fully accepted by your community?: Not necessarily.

CLICK FOR HOPE | I VOTE

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What does being a Latina mean to you?: It means culture and tradition, a long history that goes beyond my family. It means being unique and wonderfully different.

Share a struggle you have faced being a Latina.: I’ve felt at times caught in between two worlds. Very Latina in the white world and not Latina enough in the Latino world.

Share something you love about being a Latina?: I love that being Latina makes me multi faceted. There isn’t just one side to me and my family. I like meeting other Latinas because although I’ve never met them before we will have some things in common anyway.

What do you identify as? (Puerto Rican, Mexican, Salvadorian, etc.): I Would say that I identify as American with a strong Mexican tendency.

Where you born in the states?: I was born in the US.

How have you been able to celebrate and honor your American nationality, while embracing your heritage and culture?: I take advantage of and participate in what being American has to offer. My primary language is English, I vote, I love burgers, pizza and hot dogs, I love watching the fireworks on 4th of July. But when I’m home it’s mostly Spanish speaking and eating a lot of arroz con frijoles y un buen guisado.

Do you speak spanish?: Yes, fluently.

Have you experienced colorism, or not being fully accepted by your community? Like you're too dark, or too white, etc. : I’m sure I have although I can’t detail one out specifically but mostly it’s a general feeling of not being sure. For example, if I receive crappy service at the store or at a high end restaurant I’m always wondering if it’s because they suck or is it because I’m Latina…..that’s always the question.

CLICK FOR HOPE | I HATED THE STIGMA

 Photo: Authentic Adventure

Photo: Authentic Adventure

What does being a Latina mean to you?:

It means my life is full, flavorful, rich with family, food, and faith.

Share a struggle you have faced being a Latina.:

Growing up as a Latina next the hood, I hated the stigma that I was going to be a teen mom or a product of my neighborhood. I had parents who pushed me towards getting an education and I have a church community that taught me I could walk in sexual purity and wait until marriage to have sex. So although it was a struggle to see my fellow Latinos settling, I knew I wanted more for me.

Share something you love about being a Latina?:

I love my curves.
I love our food.
And I love our cafe con leche.
I love my HUGE Latino Family
I love that my dad plays the congas professionally

What do you identify as?

Puerto Rican

Where you born in the states? If not, could you share what your experience has been being an immigrant, and the process of becoming a US citizen, resident, etc. (Share only what you are comfortable with):

Born & raised in Chicago

How have you been able to celebrate and honor your american nationality, while embracing your heritage and culture?:

I’m thankful for my American heritage.
I’m thankful for the freedoms we have here.
I’m thankful for freedom to express our culture.

Do you speak spanish?:

Yes, but broken.

Have you experienced colorism, or not being fully accepted by your community? Like you're too dark, or too white, etc. Please share anything you'd like to share!:

I went to a predominately white bible college. I remember when my Latina cousins and I would get together on campus we felt like we were “too much” for our white friends at times. Some mentioned that we’re “too touchy,” we’re like no we’re Latinos.

Is there something else you'd like to say or add?:

I have a huge desire for young girls to see more Latina role models who don’t use their body in a sexual way. I desire to be an example of someone by God’s strength, who waited until marriage to have sex and I am in a healthy marriage while still pursuing my Dreams. I desire girls to see more Latinas who waited. I actually had an idea to do a photo shoot on latinas who waited and started over. So I love this idea of sharing all Latina’s in all their fullness and light. ️

CLICK FOR HOPE | I KNOW I'M DIFFERENT

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What does being a Latina mean to you?:

I know I am different, being a Latina means embracing that difference.

Share a struggle you have faced being a Latina.:

I have struggled with not being as culturally connected to my heritage as other people. Only more recently have I embraced just being me.

Share something you love about being a Latina?:

The passion I feel and I see in other Latinos.

What do you identify as?

Mexican/Peruvian

Where you born in the states? If not, could you share what your experience has been being an immigrant, and the process of becoming a US citizen, resident, etc. (Share only what you are comfortable with):

Yes, in Chicago.

How have you been able to celebrate and honor your american nationality, while embracing your heritage and culture?:

I love the mix of people that I grew up with in Chicago. It is truly a melting pot. So while I love being an American, it feels special to be an American but have more to my background by having immigrant parents.

Do you speak Spanish?:

Yes, but broken.

Have you experienced colorism, or not being fully accepted by your community? Like you're too dark, or too white, etc. Please share anything you'd like to share!:

I never listened to Mexican music, watched Spanish TV or preferred Mexican foods, so I was always different while growing up. I was seen as trying to deny my Mexican background, but that’s just not how it was in my family.

Is there something else you'd like to say or add?:

I never understood the importance of being Latina until I had kids. Before then, I felt like it didn’t really matter. But now that I have kids, I can see that they are different and I want them to know and be proud of that. To embrace it in a way I didn’t understand while I was growing up.

CLICK FOR HOPE | I'M SO PROUD TO BE LATINA

 Photo provided by Ana

Photo provided by Ana

What does being a Latina mean to you?:

Being Latina means that I always have something to be proud of. It means being a strong woman. It means empowering others who have felt how I have felt, insecure and ashamed of being in their own skin and knowing the power of their story and heritage.

Share a struggle you have faced being a Latina.:

In middle and high school I used to always get made fun of because of my full name. My full name is VERY Mexican and everyone used to make fun of me and say my name wrong because I looked “so white”. People would constantly say “Why didn’t your family ever teach you Spanish?” Or “You’re the whitest Mexican I know” and that would hurt me so much. People would constantly tell me I couldn’t like this, or wear that, or listen to this music because I didn’t know enough or spoke enough or understood enough. I always felt like I needed to be checked off some list to qualify and validate my ethnicity so I could fit in and prove myself.

Share something you love about being a Latina?:

I have such pride in knowing that I’m a powerful Latina. To see the growth and impact Latinas have made today is so encouraging and motivating. I have a culture that is so RICH in love and connection with family. Being Latina makes me appreciate hard work and gives me more passion to go towards my dream knowing all the hardships my family has had to endure to get to America and follow their own pursuit of happiness.

What do you identify as?:

Mexican

Where you born in the states? If not, could you share what your experience has been being an immigrant, and the process of becoming a US citizen, resident, etc. (Share only what you are comfortable with):

Yes, I was born in the United States.

How have you been able to celebrate and honor your American nationality, while embracing your heritage and culture?:

Just constantly wanting to learn! Learning more Spanish, so I can teach it to my future children, learning more about my family’s history and the stories of their journey to America. The closer I get to having children, the closer I want to know more about myself and my heritage better. I want my future children to never feel ashamed of who they are or where they came from. Something I also have embraced is getting tattoos that represent my heritage. Dia de Los Muertos is something we don’t celebrate in America but having a piece of that on me is something to remind me of my culture. Along with a rosary tattoo to my Catholic background.

Do you speak spanish?:

Sort of...I understand more than speak.

Have you experienced colorism, or not being fully accepted by your community? Like you're too dark, or too white, etc. Please share anything you'd like to share!:

I have always been made fun of for being “too white” and the older I get the more I want to be in touch with my heritage but I’ve always been judged for my lack of accent, the way I look or carry myself. I’m so proud to be Latina but always feel like I’m holding back because people don’t take me serious or I’m not qualified enough! There’s no list that makes you more than or less than. You are enough. You are Latina. Be proud of your culture and never let anyone talk down on you for wanting to embrace your identity.

CLICK FOR HOPE | THAT'S A TRUE LATINA

 Photo: Authentic Adventure Co.

Photo: Authentic Adventure Co.

What does being a Latina mean to you?:

She’s a woman of culture, family oriented, bold, she’s honest with love. She services the people she loves and gives of herself because she cares. She’s a hard worker and doesn’t complain because she knows who she’s doing it for. That’s a true Latina to me.

Share a struggle you have faced being a Latina.:

I have been stereotyped as being a sassy drama queen who seems to be out of control. Which to me not all Latinas are like that but as they’ve said, “Oh you’re Puerto Rican” with almost a “watch out” type reaction. I laugh it off but it gets annoying after a while.

Share something you love about being a Latina?: I love my culture. The music, the food and family

What do you identify as?: Puerto Rican

Where you born in the states? If not, could you share what your experience has been being an immigrant, and the process of becoming a US citizen, resident, etc. (Share only what you are comfortable with): I was born in Chicago.

How have you been able to celebrate and honor your American nationality, while embracing your heritage and culture?:

Since Chicago is all I know and there’s so many Latinos here, I feel like we’re all benefiting from our forefathers of America in that we’re reaping what they’ve sown and that is freedom for all colors. So I feel a freedom to celebrate and embrace both the American and Puerto Rican culture.

Do you speak spanish?: Yes, somewhat fluent.

Have you experienced colorism, or not being fully accepted by your community? 

Because I can pass for Mediterranean/“white” my own people haven’t “recognized” me. When I was a sophomore in high school at a predominately Puerto Rican high school, I said something in Spanish in class and it was as if my classmates were shocked. They gasped and said, “You speak Spanish?!!!” I said, “Uuuuh yeah, I’m Puerto Rican.” They were like, “I thought you were white!”

AM I LATINA ENOUGH?!?

 Photo: Ed and Aileen Photography

Photo: Ed and Aileen Photography

Friends, it's finally here. I've been wanting to do a campaign that celebrates being a Latina for Click For Hope for a long time.

Why?!? Well for lots of reasons.

Growing up I personally struggled with being Puerto Rican and Mexican. Comment after comment, I wrestled with my cultural identity. I couldn't quite figure out where I fit in the world. Since I'm not fluent in Spanish, I wasn't fully accepted by my Latino community...I'd hear comments like, "You're so white," or "You speak like a Gringa." And then I found I didn't quite fit in with the my white friends as I was too tan, with brown hair, and a funny accent. I could go on and on with the comments, but that's not the point of this post.

A few years ago, God walked me through a journey of finding pride within myself, and my culture. I share that part of my story HERE. God has been healing me by uprooting every single lie that I've believed about myself, and planting me with so much truth.

So I thought how amazing could it be to put a campaign together featuring as many latinas as possible on my blog along with their stories: the good, the hard, and fun parts. And so friends starting tomorrow at 8pm, I will be showcasing a new lady for you to meet, and to read her story.

My hope through this campaign is to help bring an awareness to just how diverse we are, and we can't be put in a box. While the words "Latina" and "Hispanic" are man made words that come with assumptions and stereotypes, we are so much more than that. We have a lot of offer, and in fact our voices matter!

I hope you are inspired by these stories! I hope you are open to asking yourself if their are any biases, stereotypes, assumptions, within yourself that need to be surrendered. I hope you can see us through a different lens, than what you were told, or assumed.

So friends, follow along with me these next 30 days, and read the stories of these ladies who share themselves so beautifully!!!

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE OTHER OFFER IS YOUR FRIEND?

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Friends, remember when I shared there were other offers on the table when we bought the firehouse. Well, what happens when one of those offers is your friend?!? When the ideas you have for the space are the same? 

Watch my next IGTV video where I interview my friend Rebecca, as we share this part of the story in buying the Firehouse that could have brought so much division, but instead it brought closer together.