Don't take this the wrong way.

January 13, 2015

For many women, approaching thirty is a really big deal. We start thinking about the baby making business, the wife gig, and our life accomplishments, ex-boyfriends, faraway places and the tragedy that is George Clooney’s marriage without us as the bride.


I didn’t say all these things were realistic problems.


Growing up in my community was pretty black and white. People skated by in high school, dated, got pregnant, joined a gang, dropped out of school, or died. It’s not an over exaggerated statement for Chicago Public Schools. And I’m sure it’s not just restricted to Chicago either.


The phrase "Don't take this the wrong way." has a zero percent success rate. But, it’s just that as a Hispanic female, you’re not really expected surpass the social status of Wife. It’s the stereo-type, the statistic, the goal. Disney wants us to get married, our parents want us to get married, and your grandmother pokes you at every wedding asking “when is it your turn?”  


And if I wasn’t receiving whole “housewife aspirations” vibe, it was the “at least do it for your parents.” motivation tactic.


During a meeting discussing my grades between my mother and school counselor, my counselor kept saying things like, it’s so wonderful to do this for your mother. You’re making your mom so happy. You keep up the good work and make your mom proud. Your mother is so lucky. You’re doing right by your mom. It was like nails on a chalk board.


Don’t get me wrong, I hope everything I do makes my mom proud. But that wasn’t the sole purpose behind it.


So I said something. I furrowed my seventeen year old brow and I looked at this “counselor” and I said, “I’m not doing this for her, do I want to make her proud, of course. But I get good grades because that’s for me, I want to go to college because that’s going to help me excel. My mother has lived her life. All these things I do, I do it on my own for myself. I take responsibility for that unless there someone else that I don’t know about doing my homework for me?”


The stunned silence in that room made me momentary think that I was going be beheaded. Maybe even scientifically experimented on. Until my counselor looked me dead in the eye and said, “Good for you, you’re an amazing young woman.”


Yep, I was amazing. For understanding some simplistic shit about life.


Imagine how many more people would understand that if counselors used that simplicity rather than the other? I’ll be the first one to keep the expectations low so I can always step over that bar, but at what cost has the expectations for our generation sunk so low we only expect the stereo type?


I firmly believe that while we maybe in a new world, with a “black president,” and rapidly improving technology. The old ways are still in place. They may not be as drastic as they use to be, but they can be as subtle as a divisions of neighborhoods, as quiet as bystander to violence, and as uneducated as a child who doesn’t know why they’re going to school other than because they have to.   


When I interviewed for the Chicago-Suntimes about getting into Lake Forest College after attending Kelvyn Park High School I was quoted for saying that it doesn’t matter what school you go to or where you come from, what matters is the person and what they want to do and how hard their willing to work for it.


I said it then and I still believe in it now. I’ve always made my own rules about being a Hispanic female in my community. Sure most of the time I’m taking leaps of fate and making things up on the way down but so far it’s been quite an interesting fall.  


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