The colors, voices, faces, accents, and flavors of my country are some of the ties that are deeply rooted in me. It doesn’t matter that the minute I open my mouth to speak Spanish I sound like a second grader, or that I don’t eat tortillas at every meal, nor do I have La Virgen Maria on my wall. Regardless, I am Mexican, and my roots run deeper than those iconic items — it runs through my veins.
“A tree without roots will fall over.” ~unknown
I decided to blog because I wanted a voice that transcended beyond my four walls, mi casa. It happened around the time I was lost in between two worlds, one that was all too familiar–my Latino culture and the other that was close to my heart, but so far away–the U.S. We were headed toward South America on our global nomad journey to change the world, leaving all that was close to our heart back in the U.S.
One day for the sake of my sanity, in all of my glorious mess–I wrote my heart out and then I had the audacity to hit publish. And so began my blogging career.
Writing has always been therapeutic for me. I can’t say it always makes sense but at the end, when I put my pen down–life is a bit less nebulous and my heart is at rest. I truly believe that we all have a story to tell, so from that point on I decided to share bits and pieces of my love for life, family, culture, hope, cooking, my faith, art and all things creative.
Little did I know that even though my world is a smorgasbord of colors and cultures, the blogging world was not a diverse filled rainbow. The dividing line between them and us (whoever “they” really are) was drawn even over the world wide web. I felt like I was 10 years old again, back when I was the only kid in the group, with dark hairy arms whose mom sent her to school with burritos and not Wonder Bread sandwiches that got stuck on the rooftop of one’s mouth.
Back when I started blogging, it was a white blogger world out there. It seemed as if the blogging world was dominated by creative, smart white females–a pool of white beautiful faces, with big smiles and perfect homes. I thought well, I’m creative. I’m smart. I’m a girl with a blog, surely, I can overcome the not being white part. People of color blog, too. My brown creamy colored skin and dark hair has always been a dead give away of my cultural heritage but these things alone can’t tell my story.
I could handle this. Heck, I grew up in Texas and growing up as a first generation Hispanic in Texas can be brutal for the strongest of us. I’ve had to put up with stares that made me feel the size of a mustard seed. People who looked down at me instead of at me, just because of my color. In the midst of it all, I’ve assimilated. I’ve survived.
I’ve made friends and even the bestest of friends with my Wonder Bread eating peers, who danced with their arms up close to their chest and moved robotically back and forth. Though I’m Latina, I grew up in the U.S. for most of my life so I’ve had the joy of both worlds, but also the challenges that come with it. My feet have been stuck in knee deep awkwardness my whole life. Straddling both worlds, yet feeling like I didn’t belong in either.
But the beauty of being a Third Culture Kid is that it has opened my eyes to the beautiful threads of color that come together to make this amazing quilt, we call our world. I don’t see the world around me through monochromatic colored lenses. Not just one hue or tint. From the depths of my core, I believe in diversity. I believe that we should celebrate the difference!
There was a time when I couldn’t find Latina bloggers who blogged about crafts, kids activities, home decor… The few I found were mostly fashion and beauty bloggers. I’m sure there were more out there I just couldn’t seem to connect with them. Then I found Ana Flores, founder of Latina Bloggers Connect, who back then was the editor of Spanglish Baby. She was a huge game changer for me–introducing me to the world of Latina bloggers and writing opportunities.
As the years have gone by, I’ve seen tides change in the blogging world to a beautiful tapestry of color and culture. Though the waves of change are happening, as we people of color are being more noticed by brands and editors, we still have a ways to go. For the most part blogger conferences (unless they are specifically for Latinos) are mostly filled with my creative, smart and white female blogger friends.
Can I be so bold to say–we need more diversity in these gatherings.
As a person of faith it makes me sad to say that it’s not much different at Christian conferences or on the contributors page of these Christian websites. Let’s change our convictions from theory to action! Let’s not forget there’s something beautifully enriching when we move beyond our comfort zone and sprinkle color, culture art, music, languages that are not our own to the mix. We all have a story to share. Why not share it together, not in a segregated group of bloggers but together in one room, laughing and crying as we sit at each other’s side? You may be reading this on your way to a blogging conference or you’re sitting at one. Look around: Who is speaking at these conferences? Who is sitting next to you at the table?
The dividing line is drawn.
Who just got the book offer? Who is on the contributor page of writers? Who was just asked to represent a brand?
The dividing line is drawn.
Oh, don’t think for a second that I’m saying the only reason these awesome bloggers are getting the gigs is because of their skin color. I know for a fact that many of my white blogging friends have worked their butt off to get where they are, so I’m not saying we’ve been jipped.
For the most part, I don’t feel like I have been cheated, just overlooked. Over and over again, overlooked. When we are noticed, we are given a strict script of the role we are to play–you are the Latina and that’s why you’re here, so let’s see your articles about tacos and sombreros. (I’m exaggerating a bit, but not too much.)
The dividing line is–clearly–drawn.
We want to be known for who we are not just what you think we should contribute to the blogging world. This was my reply to an editor who wanted my posts to be more Latina-ish in nature.
“When I share a post on parenting, food, family, education . . . my hope is to break down generalizations, bypass cliches, and for others to see that we as Latinas are productively contributing to our society and community beyond tacos, flamboyant clothes and sombreros…
I’m not ashamed of my rich heritage for which we are known like delicious spicy food, piñatas, dressing with flair, amazing art, beautiful music and rich colors…but these are only pieces, small fragments of our culture. I’m proud of each one, but they don’t define who we are as a people. When I make all of my blog posts about those things, then I’m only feeding the generalizations, stereotypes and cliches of what others already think about us.”
My response was an attempt to start erasing that dividing line.
We have a story to tell, so let us tell it, even if it doesn’t include tacos and sombreros. The media and our society is already filled with partial stories about Latinos, so let us share the other side. We are more than these partial stories, let us be known for the beautiful people we are, not just how you think we should contribute to your world.
Take your pencils and let’s start erasing the dividing line.
We all want to be seen and known. We all want to tell our story. Let’s start engaging each other and celebrating the diversity!
I challenge you to engage a blogger of another culture or color–heck invite them to speak at your conference. Invite her to join your contributing team of writers and share her story through her eyes, not from your limited box of her culture.
I dare you to be the one who is going to step out and start erasing the dividing line.