Two weeks ago, I started my final semester of undergrad. I’ve found myself eager to finish school, but terrified for what my future holds. There’s been a question that has constantly been asked throughout my life, but recently it’s been almost daily, “What do you identify as?”.
The recent presidential election has caused this question to be asked with a somewhat concerning tone. My last name is “Gonzales”, so I should identify as Mexican, right? Growing up, I always struggled with what I should identify as, I didn’t know I can say “I’m a mixed woman” because it never occurred to me that, that’s who I am. I found myself having to identify myself in certain situations whether “I’m white”, “I’m Vietnamese”, “I’m Mexican”. On documents, I identify as hispanic.
I’ve been told that I look like a white girl, that I look hispanic or that I look Russian. I’ve found myself constantly trying to put myself in a category or explain myself to people. They want to know more, how my mother a white woman met and married my father a Mexican/Vietnamese man. How did his parents meet? how was it when he was growing up as a mixed child in the 70s?
Over the past week, I’ve been asked by all of my professors, when I say all, I mean every single professor of the six classes I’m in has asked about my ethnic background. I’ve found in college to respond as “I’m mixed” or “I’m American”, but that’s not good enough. It’ll never be good enough.
I was asked once at a bar if I’m scared now to be Mexican because the wall that our now President is planning to build. How does someone respond to that? Yes, I’m scared for what the leader of this country is planning to do, but I will continue to consider myself a mixed woman. I was born in this country. I have a grandmother that wasn’t born here.
Being a woman, being a mixed woman, means that I am constantly threatened, whether it’s my sexuality or my rights. As women, we are fighters, it doesn’t matter the different beliefs. We are fighters, we fight for ourselves the moment we’re born. Every day we as women break societies barriers that tell us “we can’t” or “are not able to”.
My immigrant grandmother came to the United States from a communist country to provide a better life for her children and so on. She didn’t move across the world and work her entire life to not give us a better life, a life in a free country, she wanted more for herself and for her children. My parents didn’t work several jobs to not provide a better life for me and my siblings. They wanted us to have more than what they had growing up. They wanted us to have a higher education, they want us to go after what we love and fight for what we believe in. They gave us a life that I will forever be grateful for… They raised us to be strong and independent and with that comes a fighter. I want the same for my children. I want them to be able to live in a country that give them the equality they deserve as people. I want them to be proud of where they come from. I want them to have a better life than what I have right now.
I’m a fighter. I’m a mixed woman. I am a woman.