"My name is Isabella, born and raised in Coram, NY (Long Island). My mother is Panamanian and Greek. My father is Panamanian and Jamaican. Growing up my identity was "brown". I was neither black nor Hispanic, but simply brown. I remember in elementary school telling one of my white friends, "I'm not black, I'm brown." Simply put, I was scared. Growing up, the majority of kids were white and I was afraid I would stand out. I never knew which side of my heritage to favor, my black side or Hispanic side. All I wanted was to fit in with everyone; the white, black, Hispanic, you name it. I flip-flopped a lot! But n HS, the one thing that I can't forget was when I was called, "the whitest black girl" and then I'd say "but I'm Spanish." Even though I didn't speak any Spanish besides the basics. This was the point in my life when I decided to fully embrace being Hispanic! But I was still confused. I would go home and hear my parents speak Spanish, but then say things like, "But us black people"...which is what made me want to dig deeper towards finding out who I was by exploring my heritage.
It wasn't until college that I started to embrace my African American roots. Unfortunately, by that time, no one believed me because I didn't "act black". So as I went through my 20's, I reflected on who I was, how unique I am, and thought more and more about who I was in society. I've discovered that I am a true Blatina. I decided that I would no longer perm my hair and went natural. I salsa dance and live for hojaldas. I've become a proud Panamanian, Jamaican, and Greek woman. Therefore, the advice I would love to give to others just like me is to BE YOU!
Do not let anyone tell YOU how to act as to there is no specific way to act in any race. Embrace YOUR roots, create YOUR uniqueness and take pride in who YOU are!!!"