My family is very diverse. On my mom's side of the family is Panamanian and Creole, and my dads side is African American and Ethiopian. Nothing about my identity I found to be an issue until I was in the 7th grade. I went to a mostly Latino populated school and it made me feel like a fish out of water. I identify as an Afro-Latina but going to a school where I was judged about my physical features, I didn’t want to claim to be Latina at all. I have brown skin and kinky curly hair physically appearing to be a black girl. I didn’t think much of being “Latina” until I started going to that school. I would be called names that insulted my skin and hair. Being called those names would make me feel like other Latin people couldn’t accept me if I didn’t look like them. One day a Panamanian rap duo called “los Rakas” came to my school for a musical orientation about the African influence in many Latin countries, and how slavery affected the mix of the original indigenous people. One of the members of the duo was afro-Latino and consider himself as “el Negrito” to stand a point out about the African influence that strongly appeared in his features. They rapped powerful songs in Spanish that gave me a since of pride and joy for my Panamanian people. After that day I never felt bad about myself or thought it was weird that I looked the way I did because in my family everybody looks different. Some of my family members look like the stereotypical Latino and others look like me. I used to feel awkward when other black people would ask me what my ethnicity was and they couldn’t understand when I told them. I used to feel even worse when some of the Latinos at my school would make racial hate statements towards black people. Over the years, I realized that I had no reason to feel bad for they way I was because it was what made me different. I enjoyed the fact that my family comes from many beautiful cultures and it would be wrong if I didn’t love my heritage. The fact that I don’t come across a lot of people like me on a daily bases is pretty and now I cant help but to embrace every part of what makes me who I am.
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