Monday, May 2, 2011

Hispana or Latina?

Mexicana: Named after my grandmother because we shared the same birthday, I was surprised when my 1st grade teacher screwed up her face and spit my name out like a curse on the first day of school.  No one I knew had trouble saying my name, so I felt sorry for her.
Mexican American: I went home and asked my parents to make it easier for her, and they went with me the next day to okay a name change - Rachel, a good solid Biblical name.  I thought nothing about it back then.
Over the years, I gave away my identity in little tiny bits and pieces.
Raquel Martína Martínez shortened into Rachel Martínez, then when I married I became Rachel M. Hulsey and it too soon shortened to Rachel Hulsey. Others could say my name easily, without making a face or choking on the “rrrr’s,” and it was handier to file and alphabetize, but easy and handy aren’t always right.
The name lasted longer than the marriage.  Once again I kept it for convenience and out of consideration for others.
Latina: I found my way back slowly. I reclaimed Rachel Martínez Hulsey first, then decided my birth name - Raquel Martína Martínez – is beautiful and distinctive and melodious. 
And so here I am once again.
Hispana:  Of Mexican and Spanish descent, I am more Hispana than Latina, so basta, this is for me.  This is who I am.


  1. I am all American! I grew up an Air Force brat...we moved every 4 yrs like clockwork. I always wanted to fit in.

    Imagine my frustration when I tried to print my given name (Esperanza) on that top blue line paper in 1st grade. It took up the entire line! I tried leaving out letters and finally decided to write my name a lot smaller....trying to fit in.

    Life went on...

    In junior high, our names had to be embroidered on our gym clothes...1st name on the shirt pocket and last name on the cuff of my shorts. Mom told me...if she put my 1st name on the shirt it would end up in the middle of my back! LOL She came up with the perfect stitching in the 1st 4 letters of my name (ESPE) on the pocket! And so, "Espe" stuck from junior high on...I fit in.

    In high school (civilian), I remember a group of girls who tried to make me feel bad because I was a "base kid" and had to ride the bus to school. I was proud to be a "base" kid...remember this was when the USA was involved in Vietnam. My Dad was in Vietnam and I was proud of him. At this point, I didn't quite fit in...

    I never really paid attention to the "label" of my ethnicity until high school when I had to check what I was for entrance exams for college.

    So, what am I? I will always be a proud American of Hispanic heritage. My grandparents came from Mexico and their parents came from Cuba. Before that...I don't know. How do I fit in?

  2. I agree. I didnt know I was "different" until I was 18 and I overheard a nasty comment directed at me. I had always been "okay" with who I was and this really hurt.
    It took a while to overcome the insult.
    This blog was directed at everyone who wants to label me again or make less of my heritage. This time I choose to claim my Hispanic-ness. It fits me better than Latina.
    Americana I have always been and can trace that back for centuries.

  3. I think, too, all of us must pull away from relationships with people who diminish us. Not being accepted and being labeled within families also leaves scars!