I was born of two cultures.
Two people. Two ethnicities. Two nationalities.
I am. Biracial, bicultural, mixed, mestizo, American, Mexican. On my mother’s side - German, Irish, Scottish. On my father’s - Mexican; Tarahumara, Chicano.
The people that made me couldn’t have been more different culturally. My mother was born here in the United States. My father had not spoken English until he was 9 years old - and he did so only out of fear - the nuns who hit him with rulers for speaking Spanish at school made sure of that.
My parents had been brought up with completely different values, but what brought them together was their passion for what was socially just and of course their passion for each other. It was the late 70’s and both were still immersed in and living a bohemian lifestyle that was made up of hippies, artists, musicians and social activists - people who fought hard for social change and partied even harder.
Raising a child changed things for them as it tends to for most. My father had a very firm hand and far more traditional “machiste” values than I think he even realized he would. My mother was more patient, loving and accepting and his disciplinary values scared her. When they would argue my father would always say - “You’ll never understand - we are culturally polar opposite. This is why we will never agree on how to raise her.”
And sadly, it was true. And yes this is something that should have been discussed before deciding to have a baby together. But sometimes when you fall in love you forget about the other person’s deep, core values and how different they might be from your own. And sometimes when someone is black and you are white (or in this case brown and white) those differences are also what draws you to them and somehow it blinds you to the fact that these fundamental differences are what could tear you apart down the road; which in my parent’s case is inevitably what occurred.
That’s why I have always known, I had to do something differently. I wasn’t clear on what needed to be different exactly, but what I did know was that whomever I chose to make a life with - they needed to feel the way I did and want what I wanted - not just for themselves, but for us.
And so it is...completely different.
Because culture is important. It is the core value of who I am. It’s the music, the food, the language, the customs, traditions, raucous family parties filled with drama and chisme, the Catholic guilt without even having to step foot into church…
Because Adam and I have another culture - the culture of our family. It is something that we have created for ourselves and Chico because what we were given by our parents, although it was the best they could give, wasn’t enough. We’ve taken things we like from our past and left the rest behind forever...
And so today our family culture is exactly that - our own.
- Be kind to others and search to see people’s best intentions.
- We gave you Ninos (Godparents) to show you by their own example how to be a good person as opposed to teaching you about God and religion because we’ve got that part on lock! They value things that we value and this is why we chose them for you.
- Have respect for others and treat people the dignity they deserve; always say “Please,” and “Thank You,” and mind your manners.
- Have respect for your elders. They are the wisest and sadly, most disregarded people in our society.
- Remember that life is about compromise … the give and take. It’s about knowing you’re going to make mistakes (Lord knows your Papa and I have made plenty!) and having forgiveness for yourself.
- We hope to show you the difference between humility and pride and the importance of having both.
- Always try to do what’s right baby - this will not mean always looking out for yourself first, but rather, the greater good of the family and others you care about.
- Lastly - keep fighting the good fight every damn day.
Remember Chico Bear - that you are culturally a lot of things - but you are the person of your own making and choosing most of all - so choose wisely and carefully; as we have for you.
Love you, Mama Bear