Confessions of a Third Generation Latino: Dreaming California
Posted by Roobs on June 23, 2010
This is the final post in my series “Confessions of a Third Generation Latino”
Throughout much of this series of posts has been a common theme that i would hope is fairly obvious. That is, the struggle between myself as a third-generation Mexican finding comfort and brotherhood amongst other generation of Mexicans and Latinos in general.
Because of how i grew up and the socio-economic status of my family, i never truly felt accepted by my fellow Latinos and, therefore, have never truly felt comfortable in situations when i am immersed in that culture. This was never a question of whether one view is objectively correct over the other; whether or not i represent the better or worse half of American society mixing with Latino culture. If anything, i would argue that i am far from the ideal. Generally speaking, i am a Mexican who is, by and large, not that Mexican. I don’t speak Spanish and don’t really engage in any of the traditional customs of Mexican culture. I have a decent, though not great, understanding of Mexican history but also love the history and exploration of Mexican cuisine. So who am I? Is it somehow appropriate that when I’m with a group of more “traditional” Mexicans that when i say “i’m third generation”, they give a collective “oh” as if it is somehow self-explanatory? Where are we to go from here?
In a move that will complete my total experience in California, i am preparing to leave the Bay Area and move to Los Angeles where i will attend graduate school. And it would seem that the past years of my life, living in first the Central Valley and then the Bay Area, i have encountered both the problem and solution. The problem being the persistent existence of skepticism, animosity and jealousy towards any Latino who manages to succeed in American society. And the solution is the idea of common space: the idea that there can and should be one overarching theme and identity that is not solely independent to one another but part of the community as a whole; allowing Latinos more mobility to move around both within their community and society at large.
This internal struggle I have found is something we, as the Latino community, should not necessarily spend too much of our time and energy on. When there are so many other issues that affect the well being of the community, fighting amongst ourselves and slowly pushing out those whom some deem “not Latino enough” should be the least of our worries. In fact, in shouldn’t be a worry at all.
When there is a young kid who is able to succeed, it is our job as a community to encourage them to grow and succeed even more because it is these kids, these individuals who represent the future of our community. And by keeping them in good faith and good standing with the Latino community, they truly represent our advancement: A successful, established and politically powerful community in the great melting pot of America.
We are no longer the minority in California and we are slowly increasing our numbers and percentages across the United States. But with majority status doesn’t come automatic success or power. Like all things, these must be earned and must be respected by others and if we cannot even respect those who succeed in our own ranks we cannot expect others to respect it amongst our community at large.
We must find common space between the generations; common space between those who succeed and those who are skeptics. We must accept that going to college, doing well in your career and yes, making money does not mean you have forsaken or even forgotten your roots in your community. We must accept that it is entirely possible and within the prescription of our community and ethnic background that advancement and success are not only to be expected but embraced as our future.