Opinion: Ni de aquí, ni de allá

Photo by Kimberly Madrigal

I grew up in a bilingual household with my Mexican mom and Chamorro father. I was never taught Spanish, I had to teach myself through music, novelas, books, and anything I could retain or grasp. I am a “no sabo kid”. This label made it extremely difficult to find my identity at an early age which affected me years later in different ways. In high school I was always picked on for being too white to be Mexican or Chamorro. I even received these comments at my own family gatherings. Hearing these things at a young age made me feel as if I was too odd to be included in many things. I didn’t learn traditional dances from Guam like my cousins did. I never experienced the 2 a.m. parties where you fall asleep on the plastic chair because your mom won’t stop chismeando with your tia. This isn’t a pity party for the no-sabo kids. I take pride in my heritage and do things everyday to improve my knowledge of my missing cultures and protect my communities.

Leaving Perris, CA. to Humboldt in 2021 to pursue my career I had no idea the culture shock I would experience that soon led to me finding the community I never had. I am a white passing Chamorro and Hispanic woman, as I began to settle in that first week of freshman year, people didn’t talk like me, have the same morals, or the understanding of one’s privilege. I didn’t know how to connect with these people. I would talk about the struggles growing up and what I witnessed. I was greeted with blank stares and questions like “That really happens?” and “Ice patrols your neighborhood?”, why yes, Chad I don’t live in a cookie-cutter neighborhood this really does happen.

After learning about performative activism and the privilege of not needing to understand struggle I chose to not fall into that group and forget about who I am or where I come from I was approached by my now EIC and El Lenador’s Alumni A.B for a story on student ofrendas for the upcoming holiday Dia De Los Muertos. It was my first year ever doing that, I had never set up an ofrenda or knew what needed to be included. I knew that I couldn’t mask that I didn’t know what I was doing. I made this DIY ofrenda because I was missing home and my people but also to start new traditions I wasn’t taught growing up. As they came into my small dorm room I remember being embarrassed at how small or incomplete it looked.

However, I met the two people who didn’t judge me yet they encouraged me to join the publication and find a community. The first class, I saw people who looked like me and didn’t look like me. There was never judgment of not knowing Spanish fluently, never judgment on where you come from. This community has a mission and that is to bring our unrepresented community together to make changes. No matter if I feel like I belong here or where my heritage is from, I have found a community that makes me feel like I am in the right place and with the right people.

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