American Children of Immigrants

By 12:33 , , ,

This New York Times piece on Children of Immigrants in the United States made me nostalgic! 

Quotes like these make me think of my time in the US, and what I know my brother and cousins who live there still go through... 

“A lot of the time, being a child of immigrants means constantly having to defend your place as an ‘American’”

"For much of my childhood I felt tension between the culture I was immersed in at school and the culture that my mothers kept alive within our home, the one I returned to each night."

"At times, I have felt caught in the middle of the two [worlds], but it’s one of those things that you learn to find your way through ... It definitely takes mental fortitude to know where you stand and what you want to stand by. I can now stand for more than one thing."

"When others ask, ‘Where are you from?’ I tend to respond with ‘New Jersey.’ Usually, they are never satisfied with that answer because for them, it does not explain why I have the last name I have, why my hair is so conspicuously curly, why my skin is brown, and why I am able to speak Spanish." (in my case, Connecticut and Portuguese in the place of  New Jersey and Spanish, haha)

When people meet me, they want to know what culture I come from or where my family is from. They want to put me in a box or assign me a label. So the question of ‘what are you’ has always made me feel defensive of who I am and how I’m presented in the world. 

Although now I'm in Brazil, and it's easier to identify myself as Brazilian, I never had the upbringing a lot of my Brazilian friends had here, so there are always little hints that I'm not "fully" Brazilian either. I've come to terms with the fact that I'll never really be able to identify myself with one particular culture, and being in Brazil has helped me to realize... that it's okay. 

photos by Quetzal Maucci

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