Ruben: I’m tired of teaching everyone. I am exhausted. This institution assumes that I am the curriculum of diversity. I’m a frog in a middle school science lab. They lay me down, cut me open, and see what’s inside. I have to explain to them what it means to be Latino—what it means to be the Other. And once they’ve heard me, in the one or two comments I make in section, they assume they understand what it means to be “one of your people.” What it means to be “oppressed.”
Zoe: It feels like that's all my purpose is here. I walk into a room and, as the only person of color, I transform from being just Zoe to the voice of “the minority.” It doesn’t matter that my life is just one facet of the kaleidoscope of stories that make up our community. Someone comments on what they see as an observer looking into my “marginalized” community. I cringe when I have to begin my sentences with “As a Latina…”, because suddenly I feel like the weight of my words have grown to carry the voice of my entire ethnicity. That’s my only value. All that matters is that I have brown skin and can articulate a sentence. That I can be their walking, talking, visible diversity.
To our brothers and sisters on campus. To our mothers and fathers back home. To every person who has taught us what our Latinidad is supposed to be. Who we are is a result of what you’ve instilled in us. The strength, resilience, and compassion that nuestra historia, has gifted you, you’ve in turn given to us. Your stories, struggles, joys, and sorrows seep into our skin, our soul, and our Latinx identity–creating Latinidad.
Our hearts were full of gratitude towards American women of color this summer.
I saw, for the first time in my life, a television screen filled with so many women of color like myself. The shades of their skin—so similar to my own and that of my community—took center stage as a symbol of the best that our country has to offer.