What makes someone Latina enough?
Is it the fact that I stop to sing along to “Dreaming of You” by Selena Quintanilla whenever and wherever I hear it?
Is it the rice, beans, and pork my family eats on Noche Buena?
Is it the way my grandmother tells me she’ll see me next time ‘si Dios quiere’?
Being a first-generation Latinx American comes with a lot of questioning. Sometimes I’m not even sure if I’m allowed to call myself first generation, as my dad is a Cuban immigrant and my mother was born to Colombian and Dominican immigrants in Queens, which I’ve convinced myself makes me a first and a half-generation American.
The truth is: there’s nothing half about it. My mix of nationalities has gotten a lot of commentary from outsiders over the course of my life, ranging anywhere from being called a ‘mutt’ to being asked what my kids would say if I were to have them with someone outside of any of those nationalities. There have also been people in my life who have told me I’m not allowed to claim any of these nationalities, as I’m not fully any of them. Despite all of this, I was raised to love and embrace what makes each of those identities unique.
Like tostones my mom taught me to make, no two Latinx experiences are the same. However, just like the crunch of freshly fried plantain, there’s immense beauty in what we share.
After 23 years in this body – I’ve come to terms with the fact that the only person who can validate my Latinidad is me.