Parte de Mi
By Lorena Maca Garcia
This piece is a personal reflection, based on recent moments during which I have learned more about my heritage. This piece reflects an acceptance of who I am and what is a part of me.
Throughout this time in quarantine, I’ve been connecting with other parts of my family who live in Mexico, and learning so much more about my own Mexican heritage. It has made me realize that I live a completely different life here than they do there.
Unlike my parents and grandparents, I grew up in New York City and have never visited Mexico, so before now, I mainly connected with my family and my heritage through forms of media. I used to think telenovelas would show what life was like in Guerrero, Mexico. However, in the past couple of years, I started recognizing the clear colorism and lack of representation of my family’s rural small town in Mexican media. In all of the telenovelas I watched with my family, the characters were light-skinned, wealthy people who lived in larger towns and cities.
Looking through pictures with my grandparents, and listening to their memories, painted a different picture than which was portrayed on TV. Unlike in the media, there are many people in rural parts of Mexico who aren’t living in large houses. Some are even living in one-room houses built by hand; others work mostly in agriculture and farming, and have to make do outside of city life.
I’ve also noticed that everyone assumes Spanish is the main language in Mexico, although my own grandfather used to speak in the dialect tongue of Guerrero, Zapoteco. In fact, my grandpa had to learn Spanish in school, even though he spoke his dialect at home. This made me feel a connection, even though it’s different, because I learned English in school but mostly still speak Spanish at home.
I want to educate myself about my heritage because it’s a way to connect with the rest of my family. Until now, I’ve never thought much about it. I used to not even know which part of Mexico I was from, until I asked my mom. In the end, my heritage is taught to me in small ways—through food (my grandma’s frijoles y tortillas), my mom’s stories about bull-riding and my grandpa’s memories. I’m definitely still learning, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning more about my culture and where my parents and grandparents are from. That will always be a part of me.
This piece has been in the making for years as I started discovering more about my heritage and where I come from. You never stop learning or asking questions, especially when it’s something you want to learn so much about—something that will always be a part of you. I struggled in identifying who I was as a person and how to categorize myself, especially when asked in demographic questions. I felt as if I didn’t know where I truly stood, especially as a first generation child. Are you fully Mexican? Did you come here from Mexico? Were you born here? You can’t handle spicy stuff, but aren’t you Mexican? I get even more discouraged when the majority of Latin media—media I thought I could connect with and use to explore more of who I am—just shows stories and favoritism towards lighter toned actors/actresses. Regardless, it never made me want to stop exploring and asking questions. After all, when will I get another chance to ask about my grandfather’s language if he’s not there to speak it to me? This piece, at its core, is a written acceptance of myself and everything that I have learned from my family so far.
Lorena lives in a quiet neighborhood in the Bronx and is currently a senior enrolled at a public high school in the South Bronx. Taking honors, AP Classes and college courses, she is striving towards her own expectations by sheer will and determination. She challenges herself to seek out all the brightest possibilities in the world, expressing her emotions through words, as well as her inner mind and inner self. She writes the majority of her pieces at a cafe little known to others, sipping an iced coffee with a “reasonable” amount of sugar.