Two weekends ago I was able to go see Barack and Michelle Obama speak in Pueblo, Co. Pueblo is a 2 hr drive from Denver. Maga and Lili also wanted to go. So we packed ourselves into my car and we went on our way.
You could feel the excitement in the air. We where excited to see Barack and Michelle speak. We where excited for the then up coming elections. We where excited for the future and the change it held. On our drive down we started looking for cars with Obama stickers who we thought were also going in the same direction as us.
During our drive Lili and I where able to talk to Maga about our family, life, religion, politics and of course immigration among other things. Maga shared just a small amount of details of what it was like for her to come to the United States. She shocked Lili and I when she said " It was hard, but I know that it is hard for you guys also."
Maga understood that we had our own obstacles to over come. We are the first generation born in the United States. We are children of immigrants, children who really don't belong anywhere. Maga and Lili wanted to know what it had been like for me growing up with two cultures. Even though Lili is going through the same things I went through being her older cousin she wanted advice.
So I told her.
I told her that some days she would feel like she doesn't belong anywhere and that no one gets her. I told her that to some people we were always going to be too Latin to be American and too American to be Latin. That people where going to tell her that she spoke with an accent. It didn't matter if she spoke in Spanish or English. She would always speak with this so call accent that she could never notice but everyone else could.
I told her that balancing two cultures was going to be difficult. Some days it would feel impossible but she would be able to do it. That most days she would feel like she is torn in two. Her American side and her Dominican side. That some people would hold the fact that she is a U.S. citizen against her. That some people would hold the fact that she is Dominican against her. That she would encounter idiots who will judge her, but that at the same time she will encounter people who embrace her.
I told her to make peace with the fact that she is not really from here or there. To befriend people who are just like her, juggling two cultures and trying to make sense of it all.
I told her that we are lucky. We are lucky because we get to experience the best of both worlds, and to ignore the worst. We are lucky because we speak two languages.We get to experience two cultures. That we can eat mangu and salami for breakfast and McDonalds for dinner and not blink a eye. That we can dance to merengue and switch it hip-hop without missing a beat. That we can speak in Spanglish if we wanted to. That we are now a part of the majority. That we have advantages that our parents and grandparents never had. That most people wish that they where as lucky as we are. That some people die trying to get what we have.That the feeling of being inadequate and not belonging will fade with time. To use her two cultures to her advantage.
Three days later Barack Obama a black man, the son of an immigrant became president.
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