How did you identify when you were a child?
Being from Idaho I almost immediately noticed my family was different than the average family. We were not white. When I was super young, I identified as "mixed." During middle-school, I decided I wanted a nickname as unique as I was.
Being the only girl of color, older than 8 at my private school, I created, "Blaxican" from Black and Mexican, which is what I am. I have identified as Blaxican since then, I even had it engraved upon my class ring.
What emotional struggles, if any, have you faced due to being Afro-Latina?
At first I want to say of course there were no struggles. I am a fearless woman of color who perseveres, but who am I kidding we all struggle. Two emotional struggles stand out for me as I reflect come from dating and my hair. I don't have to tell all my Blatinas/ Afro-Latinas about learning to love thy natural hair, nourish thy natural hair, be one with thy natural hair, but it was a learning process. I always envied all the shiny flowing locks that the other girls at school had. Their ease with styling and dying. I just wanted to flip my hair around too! But I had the frizzy, short, tight "S" curl that wasn't taken care of (unless by the graces and patience of my aunt braiding me up), and often ended up in a bun on my head.
I drew the line at my mother helping me with my mane (Lord bless her) after one morning of her trying to rake a comb through my naps. It was so ratted, I was using the edge of the sink as leverage to hold myself down as she pulled out on my hair with the brush. I knew that the other girls didn't have to deal with this in the morning and I was different. I had to do something different, but I will persevere. Accepting I was different and would never have: naturally long, shiny, flowing locks was the emotional struggle.
The second struggle came in high school when dating became a thing. This new experience of comparing potential mates, discovering chemistry and flirting. I experienced both sides of the coin in dating; both the fetish-ization of mixed women, and racism/prejudice. Being both wanted solely because of my genetic makeup and rejected based on my genetic makeup. This made me realize I am ME, not my skin! If someone cannot look past that, then they are NOT for me. But feeling the rejection and praise reminded me that no matter what people will...judge.
What’s the one comment or event that you always remembered said to you or done to you about who you are?
My friends say that on my tombstone will be the quote, "I do what I want" because I do. I've learned to be fearless in the face of judgement, in the feeling of insecurity, and self doubt because often times actions made out of fear move us further away from our goals and dreams. You must live outside of your comfort zone; DO WHAT YOU WANT, actually do it!
What piece of advice would you share about understanding who you are?
If you want to know me, share experiences with me, talk to me, watch my actions. That's the only way to know. To understand ones self- you must push yourself.