Who Am I Anyway?

How do you handle this?

By Esther Bonilla Read
Published on LatinoLA: July 10, 2013

Who Am I Anyway?

My husband and I are entirely different. He comes from Scotch-Irish-English people, or so he thinks. I have Mexican roots. Both of us were born, raised, and educated in this country.

After we married and began having children it never occurred to me to point out our differences to the children. My mother and father could speak Spanish. Their other grandmother could not. We ate all kinds of food: American, Mexican, Italian and Chinese. The other grandmother ate only the same type food she had eaten as a child: American fare.

We were their mother and father; what else was there to say? Gradually the children learned of the differences. At school one day a child told my son he didn't like Mexican-Americans. My son came home and said, "Gee, I hope he doesn't find out about me." I resented the fact that the student made my son embarrassed about himself; yet I didn't want to say anything ugly about the other child. I reassured my son he was fine, okay just as he was and not to ever worry about what anyone else thought. Sometimes the opinions of others weren't worth fretting over.

A few years later the sitcom, The Jeffersons, was on television making us all laugh at the ethnic terms Mr. Jefferson used. By then I thought the "ethnic questions" relating to our family were all settled. The same son came home and said, "Mama, some boys are calling me 'Honky', but I am only half Honky, isn't that right?"

After I picked myself off the floor from laughing so hard I explained the term to him. Many years have passed since that time, and I think all is settled unless that same son visits our home and tells me otherwise.

About Esther Bonilla Read:
Published Writer: Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul (one story); various newspapers and magazines
Speaker & topics: WWII; Teaching; Life; Humor
Author's website

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