I walk a fine line between two worlds.
There’s the dreamy, picturesque world full of music, family, and color. In this world, the rhythms of salsa, cumbia, and bachata fill my veins and become the base of my heartbeat. When the slow strumming of the guitar in chacareras and zambas gently carries through the air, I know this is home.
This world feels like my utopia. It is the place I go to when my American identity doesn’t quite feel like enough. Night and day have no start or end. The difference between days is marked off with structureless, never-ending conversations.
Here, in this world, family and friends are interchangeable and solidarity is the religion.
But lurking behind the shadows of this “happy” world is a much, much worse one. This world is crawling with grey hues, out of tune music, insecurity, and feelings of being an imposter that has always stayed in the back of my head.
A childhood full of watching El Chavo Del Ocho and soapy (but amazing) telenovelas doesn’t outweigh the fact that Hispanic identity doesn’t feel right to me.
When I first moved to the U.S. in 2010 and I would say “I’m Hispanic” a small voice in the back of my head would say “No, you are not.”
Over the years, strangers and family alike have fed that little voice with subtle insecurity which has taken it from a whisper to a scream.
Argentine culture is quite metropolitan and not anything like any other “traditional” Hispanic culture. Along with cultural differences, my Argentine roots mean I have strong European features. I speak a different type of Spanish known as Rioplatense Spanish which draws a yellow line labeled “CAUTION: DIFFERENT” around me every time I open my mouth around my Latin-American counterparts.
My skin color, my culture, the way I look and the way I speak set me apart from the Hispanic community.
I walk around life with the words “fraudulent” and “imposter” sprayed across me.
But what does Hispanic identity really come down to? Is it your ability to recite Billboard’s 50 Greatest Latin Songs off the top of your head? Or is it how dark your skin is? If these were the requirements, I would pass with flying colors … just kidding! I wouldn’t be considered Hispanic in even the slightest way.
Somewhere along the way, the Hispanic community called my name and claimed me as their own. Although I know nearly nothing about Hispanic identity and what that means in our respective communities, I know that it is me.
So, in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, embrace your Hispanic heritage full-heartedly because it is simply you.