Mi Nueva Familia

A black woman's Mexican family

By Felica Devers de la Pe?a
Published on LatinoLA: May 17, 2003

Mi Nueva Familia

My name is Felica Devers de la Pe?a and I am an African-American woman with a Mexican family. My husband, Michael, is Mexican-American and his family is now my family and I couldn't be happier.

I grew up in the South; Louisiana to be exact and there weren't a lot of Mexican-Americans in my own little slice of rural heaven. All I saw were white folks, black folks and handfuls of other ethnic groups, so unless I crossed the border into Texas, I had no contact with one person of Mexican heritage.

Up until meeting my husband two years ago, I still naively believed Taco Bell was "true" Mexican food, I didn't know what a tamale was and I thought everyone of Latin ancestry fell into the category of being called Spanish no matter what their ancestors' country of origin.

The first time my husband, Michael, introduced me to the majority of his family was at his birthday party in 2001. I was so nervous. Michael always spoke so lovingly about his family and how there were a lot of them and they were so close. I hoped they'd like me and I prayed they'd think I was good enough. But I need not have worried. As Michael guided around his parent's backyard holding my hand and introducing me to his grandparents, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles, my worries disappeared. Everyone person I met that day hugged me and smiled at me like I was family. And what made it all the more sweet was that the kids and adolescents hugged me too. Everyone was so warm and loving to me. Uncle Mike hugged me and told me to call him Uncle Mike, and to this day, two years later he is one of my favorite people. That lovely summer day I was introduced to salsa music, authentic Mexican food prepared by Michael's Lita (grandmother) and my desire to learn the Spanish language was reignited.

I have since fallen in love with tamales and flamenco dancing, I've been introduced to the art of Frida Kahlo, the words of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the music of Celia Cruz. My eyes have been opened to so many new and exciting things.

My husband's family has never ceased to show me love and kindness. I've received cards for my birthday, gifts on holidays, phone calls when I was under the weather, invitations to every family celebration,and visits when I was in the hospital giving birth to our baby girl, Valentina (pictured).

I have always been very close to my own family and I always hoped that when I met that special someone his family would be special as well. Well, they are and it's amazing to me that I didn't just fall in love with Michael, I fell in love with his entire family.

And I feel really blessed that they love me back.

About Felica Devers de la Pe?a:
Felica Devers de la Pe?a is a Songwriter/Poet originally from Louisiana and she now resides in Southern California with her husband, Michael (also a writer) and their new baby girl, Valentina Marie.

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