On Being Latina…And Why I Am Orgullosa!
A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people – Mahatma Gandhi
I remember the moment I first realized I was different. I was in elementary school and a little girl asked me about my hair and the color of my skin. As much as I tried to deny my culture and convince her that I was exactly like her, she knew I wasn’t…even at the young age of 7. I was raised in private schools from the time I went to Kindergarten, and as a young Latina girl, that often meant I was the minority. From that moment all through high school, I tried to look, act, and talk like my peers. I grew up in a home where for the most part, our culture was stifled. We spoke English and rarely ate ethnic meals. Family gatherings were sparse since we are sprinkled across the country. Wardrobe from Nordstrom, straight hair (achieved with a flat iron, of course), eventual makeup…all designed to fit in. As much as I tried, I could not deny my culture…my heritage. I took three years of high school Spanish, and I’ll never forget that teacher who told me how important my language and culture are…how embracing them would be life-changing.
In retrospect, I don’t remember being teased or ridiculed for the color of my skin, rather there was this constant personal awareness of being different. As long as that period of time felt in my life, one day we graduated, and for some reason, I became less focused on the color of my skin and the thickness of my hair.
Even as a young adult, my perspective was broadening. I graduated nursing school and landed a job at my dream hospital in the heart of Los Angeles. Oh how I love this city that embraces diversity and celebrates cultures. Studying nursing matured me in ways I could never imagine. I learned how to be compassionate and open-minded…how to approach situations from a holistic perspective rather than taking them at face value. It is through nursing that I fully realized how integral a person’s culture is to all aspects of life, including physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Today, I am so many things…wife, mother, daughter, friend, woman…at the heart of who I am is my culture. I am Orgullosa! I am proud to be a Puerto Rican woman living in Southern California. And I’m thankful to be surrounded by a community of women who share that same pride in their culture and heritage.
Having been in this space for five years, I’ve watched how the Latina community has grown. Last week sixty five of the most influential Latina bloggers in this space were invited to Washington DC for a retreat which included a groundbreaking visit to the White House for a briefing to talk about the most pressing and pertinent issues in the Hispanic community.
As this space grows, there is a need for Latina women to connect…to share experiences, ask questions, seek support. Orgullosa is a celebration of this community. It is a place for Latina women to share their opinions and experiences…to connect with other women. The site is an invaluable resource, focused on this community and offers information and tips focused on beauty, culture, career, family, community, and the home.
Orgullosa simply means pride. I love the premise of the site:
Orgullosa is more than a movement — it is an authentic reflection of the Latina woman’s steadfast spirit.
At the heart of every Latina woman is their culture…their heritage…those things that define them including language, food, and celebrations. If you are a Latina woman, I’d love to connect with you on the site. You can sign up for this growing community here (it’s free!).
I received compensation for participating in a SocialMoms and Orgullosa blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.