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Who Are We?

The different type of Latin experience: life in the 50's being Mexican, we were not yet Hispanic

By Cheri
Published on LatinoLA: September 28, 2008


Who Are We?


My story is basically of story of growing up in two worlds. The world of anglos I lived in and then the polor opposite every Sunday visiting my grandparents in the barrio.

The time was the 1950's and very different attitude then today. I was the only Hispanic girl, with four brothers in all Anglo school in La Mesa I had teen magazines showing what to look like but none matched me.

My father was proud that he and my mother worked hard to be in a so-called good neighborhood. But at what price. We lost a lot of our ethnicity. We don't speak Spanish, and yet there were many times in the visits with my nana and my Tata in the barrio we communicated in our way.

In those days kids sat at separate tables and the adult table was filled with laughing and Spanish and the beers. My grandmother was a cannery worker in San Diego and she was a rough, short women. I just remember her as drinking beers and loving watching the fights.

My grandfather was a tall handsome blue eyed Mexican man. He loved the feisty wife he had. When they applied to rent a house in the barrio, my Tata applied. They agreed and my Mexican indian looking small Nana showed up with all those kids in the car.

In those days in San Diego, you sometimes had a problem getting a place to rent. I bet the landlord was shocked.

During the Watts riots in the 60's, I as a young child, experienced that. Every Sunday we would visit my Nana and Tata. One Sunday during Bonanza we heard the sound of the National Guard as they pounded their feet through the barrio.

Apparently San Diego was afraid that there would be riots there much like Watts. They called the Guard in.We were told to leave my grandparent's home. I can always remember my grandfather refusing and my father talikng loudly and insisting they couldn't stay. That's when they moved in with us for a while.

My family balances two worlds. There are a lot of men and women who grew up in a different time that getting along was better then just having the one identity. There are so many types of Latino experiences but let's not forget that there all types of Latinos that our proud of their heritage and yet their life is different then young Latinos now.

The history of the older Latinos can't be forgotten. Just in how they lived their lives working and being part of both worlds.

This world is very multicultural but at one time in different neighborhoods your family was the only Latino they saw.

About Cheri:
brother is a writer




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