latina stories

CLICK FOR HOPE | TOO LATINO FOR SOME | Mylene Raspado

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What does being a Latina mean to you?

Being Latina simply means being ME. It’s the blood that’s running through my veins, the food I eat, my love for music, the way I speak. It’s found in how I raise my children, create my home, and relate to others.

Share a struggle you have faced being a Latina.

The one struggle I’ve faced, is the fact that I am too Latina for some communities, yet not Latina enough in some. These struggles find their roots in the fact that I don’t speak spanish fluently.

I also struggle with representation in my career field. I don’t see a lot of “ME” represented in the world of Interior Design.

Share something you love about being a Latina?

Gosh, where to start....

VIBRANCY. That’s the word that comes to mind when I think of being Latina. It’s the passion we all carry and the beauty that passion leads to. It’s hard to explain it but when you are around Latinas, you feel it.

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.

My mother was born and raised in Puerto Rico and my father was second generation. I was born here in Chicago and raised by both parents. Their biggest regret is not speaking and teaching us spanish. The most I learned was when speaking to my Abuela who speaks very minimal English.

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

The way I celebrate being Latina is by continuing all that was rooted within me throughout my childhood and young adolescence, from my parents and grandparents .

The way I love to put on Salsa while I clean, that special way I make Avena that taste like my mom’s, also, her rice. The details of my home decor that celebrate my Puerto Rican ancestors. It’s those moments big and small that remind me of my family...

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.

Most definitely. As I said earlier, some communities I am “too Latina” for, and others I am not Latina enough because I don’t speak spanish fluently.

In design school I can recall being one of four other Latinos and in the beginning of my schooling felt out of place due to that. I remember even in my presentations my mannerisms and the way I spoke, it was evidently different yet beautiful.

But when I’m amoungst Latino communities, I often feel that same out of place feeling because I don’t speak spanish fluently. And, partnered with, if I can be transparent, having a Masters degree, waiting to be married to have sex with my partner, and having kids, I get the feeling from some people in the community that I am “too good” for them. Which is never the case, and sad that some Latinos see that as being “too good”.

CLICK FOR HOPE | BEING A LATINA IS AN HONOR

Photo: Authentic Adventure Co. | You can purchase this shirt at our  shop!

Photo: Authentic Adventure Co. | You can purchase this shirt at our shop!

What does being a Latina mean to you?:

Being Latina is an honor. It’s about accepting diversity, being able to speak a second language, embracing your ethnic roots and culture. Being able to learn about the authentic food, music, traditions and passing that down from generation to generation. It’s about accepting that Latinos come in all shades. Latinos are passionate, loyal, hard-working, family-oriented, with a side of attitude and loudness.

Share a struggle you have faced being a Latina.:

A lot of people think I’m Caucasian until they hear me speak. But the hardest thing for me is people that are not Hispanic feeling offended because you speak Spanish and tell you to stop speaking like that and go back to your country. Last time I checked Puerto Rico is part of the United States. People should not feel threatened by our culture. Being bilingual is something that would give you favor when it comes to job interviews. It comes with dignity and honor to be able to speak Spanish to those that never learned the English language. Another thing I struggled with while growing up, was with the pronunciation of my name. Having a spanish name and everyone not knowing how to say it. So all throughout my years in school people would say it in English and completely butcher my name (Ya Near Ra). Same as in the workplace. I would always have to correct them and I felt embarrassed instead of proud. But now that I’m an adult, I fully embrace the uniqueness of my name, pronounced as (Ja Knee Ra)

Share something you love about being a Latina?:

I love everything, the food, the music, the traditions, the culture, the unity, the diversity, the appeal, our curves, our hustle, dedication, our history and victories.

What do you identify as?: Puerto Rican

Where you born in the states?

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

Yes. I still celebrate Independece Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day. At the end end of the day I’m still an American.

Do you speak spanish?: Yes, but broken.

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

Sometimes our people mess with us if we weren’t born in Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 which makes me feel like I’m not as Hispanic as they are. The standards are high for a Latina, you have to know how to clean and cook and serve your hubby but I do enjoy those things so they don’t come as a chore lol.

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

We should never resent our ethnicity. We should be proud of who we are and the way God created us for we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We should also invest time in knowing our grandparent’s history and how they came to the United States to give their family a better opportunity for success. Thank you to my grandparents, Eusebio Cruz and Cecilia Cruz for leaving Puerto Rico and moving to New Jersey to then move to Chicago. You paved the way for our family and thank you for the legacy you have left us.