The high school dynamic continues to be one dominated by cliques and social judgement. Although we live in a generation often praised for its “wokeness” and inclusivity, my almost four years at Selma High have shown me an alternate reality. I have been consistently judged based off of factors that were out of my control since I was always seen as “the white kid.”
Being a white Hispanic, I often didn’t conform to what those around me expected. When I tried to identify with my Hispanic culture, other kids would cast me out for trivial reasons such as my skin not being dark enough or for not being fluent in Spanish. Conversely, if I identified as white, I would be cast aside, this time purely because I looked different from most of the other kids.
At first I would try to convince others of my background, often to no avail, but I later learned that what others considered me as didn’t matter. I knew my own background, I knew what my culture was, and I wasn’t going to allow others to dictate a false persona. Being of mixed ethnicity allowed me to experience not only my Mexican roots, but also that of Spain and France. This has led to a more fruitful life than one that would have been determined for me by others.
As I finish my high school career, it is my hope that anyone who is going through the same experience finds encouragement and knows that our differences make us invaluable. High school often tries to force the circles into square holes, but we shouldn’t be afraid of someone who comes from a different walk of life. The tragedy of our schooling is telling a student that they must choose which aspect of them to accept and which others to pretend don’t exist. Being a mix of multiple cultures only adds to the spice of life as you’re exposed to very different dynamics and form experiences that are otherwise impossible.
Consequently, it is crucial that high school norms accept this fact and are altered. If we were to base someone’s Hispanic authenticity on, for example, if they can speak Spanish, naturally what comes next is whether you’re an American if you can speak English. This is precisely why we must let go of these inane social litmus tests we hold for each other. It is up to the future classes to ensure that what I’ve gone through isn’t repeated for other students.
It must be said, though, that I am proud of who I have become over these four years. But this was only possible because I let go of who others thought I was and accepted all of who I truly am.