I am South American and I was raised here; however, I don’t know what to label myself because I’m undocumented. I don’t feel like I belong here or in South America either. I don’t consider myself American and it frustrates me because I feel like being raised here gives me that right. Also, if I don’t consider myself South American I feel like I’ll be a disgrace to my parents and a sell out as well. What do you consider yourself? What am I suppose to do? I can’t really figure out WHO I AM.
Thank you for submitting your question! Wow. Identity is a concern most undocumented students have. I completely understand what you’re feeling. It’s hard to consider yourself American when you’re not allowed to do most of the things all the citizens do and it’s hard to consider yourself South American because you weren’t raised there/ can’t visit the land either. There’s always this intense need of labeling someone and I don’t understand why. If you don’t feel American or south American then don’t call yourself either :] you can just say I was born ____ and raised _____ but not identify with either. But before you try labeling or UNlabeling yourself let us see what it means to be “American”.
I personally don’t believe America has a culture. If you walk around the streets of New York there are restaurants that serve all kinds of food and play all kinds of music. Almost everything in America has been imported from somewhere else and adapted to everyday life. If you open my fridge you will find arepas, empanadas, arroz, dulce de leche and other Colombian products. If you go to a night club they’re playing reggaeton, salsa, bachata, merengue and more. We also have little Italy and china town. So if you want to consider yourself American what would that mean? I believe America has a lot of different cultures and liberal ideas. Regardless of your immigration status I think considering yourself American would mean embracing different backgrounds and having some liberal ideas if you want. Personally, I don’t consider myself 100% American or 100% Colombian because I can’t fully participate in either one. However, I do have a Colombian flag in my room, listen to Colombian music, eat Colombian food and I speak Spanish. I also read American literature, consider this my home, listen to English music, speak English and of course defend my civil rights :D.
Don’t ever feel like a disgrace, or sell out, because you have trouble identifying yourself. It’s normal among undocumented students to feel that way and sometimes even parents struggle as well. If you want to consider yourself full American that’s fine too, just don’t forget where you and your family come from. Some parents value their country of origin, as their children we can learn about it and appreciate it even if we don’t feel like we belong in it.
Everyone identifies themselves differently and it’s a process of discovery we all face at some point. I have friends that are citizens and they label themselves after the land their parents were born in.
Don’t worry so much about this because in the end if you were still born in AMERICA!
The only difference is…that it’s located in the southern half.
Readers, remember to send me your stories or if you need a space to vent or needadvice. WE ARE HERE! You are not alone
I’ll be here to answer questions, or talk things out, with anyone. Remember, the insecurities and fears you have, someone else is them having too!
Don’t be afraid to speak out!
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The views expressed by the author on this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSYLC).