Tori Noriega Tori is a student at Pace University in New York City and Creative Director/Staff Writer at TFP. You can visit Tori's blog at- www.dailylifeofvictoria.com/
Coming to a point where you’re comfortable with yourself and where you fit in is something that takes people years to attain. It sometimes takes some people their whole lives. Until recently, I still struggle with it, but I’ve come to a point where I’m comfortable with who I am and where I come from. That’s something I’ve always craved. I come from a large Mexican family that has immense pride in where they’re from and they’re not afraid to say it. My dad came from Mexico at the young age of 12 and my mom’s family came from Mexico, but she grew up in South Texas on the border of Mexico. They both grew up around a strong influence of Mexican culture, but around a lot of American culture as well. When I came into this world I was born in North East Texas in Dallas. My life has been always full of American culture; I was hardly around Mexican culture. My grandparents moved in with me when I was five years old and that was the biggest blessing I could have ever asked for. I was taught the beautiful language of Spanish and given more of a sense of where my family came from. I was still going to a predominantly white school in a middle-class neighborhood. Most of my friends were white and I really didn’t get a full sense of the Tejano culture. I was pointed out for being different. My curls were always a topic of discussion with people pulling at them and trying to run their hands through them. I felt embarrassed that it made me stick out so much around everyone else. I felt odd that no one else knew Spanish except for me and if they did it was butchered and not spoken well. Most of my friend’s parents weren’t as apparent in their lives like mine were. All these little things built up to make me self-conscious of how different I was. When I left that school, I moved to another school, which was even whiter high class neighborhood. Now that I had moved I became even more nervous. I started becoming self-conscious of how much more hair I'd grow than my friends and how I felt like I was maturing physically faster than everyone else. When I would tell people that I was Mexican the first words that were uttered were, “You don’t look Mexican”. What does that mean? What does looking Mexican look like? I was told I looked “too white” to be Mexican. I didn’t understand. At first everyone would be intrigued as to where I came from because “I looked so exotic”, but when they found out I was “just Mexican” it gave them a bad taste in their mouth. I was asked if my family were “maids and gardeners” as if those are lesser jobs or the only jobs Mexicans can do. I began to straighten my hair every day and I stopped speaking Spanish as much. I didn’t want to stand out anymore. I wanted to fit in. To this day that is my biggest regret. Then I would go to Hispanics and try to fit in. I am a Hispanic woman, but I was “too white”. My Spanish wasn’t perfect and of course, I was born in America. I wasn’t the typical Mexican. I didn’t grow up around the Tejano culture and I didn’t understand the mariachis or the importance of Selena. I knew some part of the Tejano culture, but I hadn’t grown up around that. Just recently I was told that I wasn’t a “real Mexican” because I didn’t come from Mexico personally. I am not connected to my Mexican culture as much as I would like and I wish I would have listened to my grandfather more when he would explain, because I do love being a Tejana. I am not the stereotypical mold of one, no. I am not extremely tan, I didn’t grow up in a low-income family, I don’t speak perfect Spanish and my idol when I was little wasn’t Selena. My idols were Shakira and Salma Hayek. I didn’t grow up around bodegas at every corner. I grew up in a white neighborhood and they also didn’t accept me like I would have liked them to. I am a middle ground of both worlds. I will not be looked down upon because my mom worked her ass off to get out of a low-income neighborhood and make something of herself. I will not be looked down upon because I take pride in being Mexican, but I still hang out in predominantly white situations. I will not be looked down upon because my family comes from immigrants, because they worked to get to where they are and how they got here. I didn’t do those things, I know. I didn’t cross the border with my family and I didn’t come out of a low-income family. I am a privileged person. I am fully aware, but I will use that to my advantage to further the visibility of people who can’t do it themselves. I am a proud of mixture of American culture and Mexican culture and that’s something that I will not let be taken away from.
Kendall Kindred Kendall is the Editor and Staff Writer for TFP.
One of the main focuses of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was the promise that he would secure the border between the U.S. and Mexico by building a massive wall. This week, he signed an executive order to begin construction on the wall and speed up mass deportations of illegal immigrants. So, what will this wall mean for U.S. relations with Mexico? Will it really have the benefits that Trump has promised? There has been a lot of speculation about the cost of the wall and who is really paying for it. The definitive answer is that the American taxpayers will be paying, but, according to Trump, Mexico will be "reimbursing [the States]" for the costs. Despite the fact that the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, has stated on many occasions that Mexico “absolutely will not” be paying for the wall, Trump has assured the American public that “there will be a payment. It will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form”. The lack of specificity is frustrating, but is unfortunately to be expected from the television-personality-turned-politician. His lack of direction has been a staple throughout his campaign, and somehow won him the Presidency. Estimates show that the wall will cost upwards of $15 billion and take at least two decades to complete. Once completed, the wall is sure to have unexpected and dangerous consequences. The purpose of the wall is to keep illegal immigrants out by securing the border between the U.S. and Mexico, but the reality is, it will only make things more dangerous for the people who inevitably try to make it to America anyway. The wall will actually cause an increase in illegal activity, forcing migrants to rely on smugglers to get them across the border. If the true purpose of the wall is to stop illegal immigration, why pour billions of dollars into a project that will ultimately be futile when we could be spending time and money on a much-needed immigration policy reform? It seems this is less a problem about immigration, and more a problem about race. The fact of the matter is, Donald Trump has never been shy about the way he feels about minorities, calling Mexicans “criminals and rapists”, and encouraging the dangerous belief that “illegals" are stealing American jobs when that simply is not true. I fear for what his Presidency will mean for our relationship with Mexico, wary of the fact that he is quick to disrespect and criticize anyone who he believes has crossed him. His short temper and weakness for social media platforms will surely be problematic in a time when respectful relationships between countries are important and necessary. On top of his complete lack of respect for his peers, Trump’s policies could prove to be damaging to Mexico’s security and economy, despite the fact that he claimed this wall will be "very good for Mexico". Should he stop complying with the security agreements that the U.S has with Mexico, the drug cartel could become more powerful than ever, even spilling over the border into the States. According to CNN, the Mexican government’s “immediate concern” is NAFTA, a free trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Trump has claimed on multiple occasions that he would attempt to renegotiate NAFTA in an effort to get back the American jobs that he believes were stolen. If Trump fails to respect their dignity as a country, Mexico is prepared to walk away from the agreement altogether, which will be detrimental for both countries’ economies, as 80% of Mexico’s manufactured goods are exported to the United States. Donald Trump’s foreign policies are lacking, to say the least, and I worry that his disrespect towards the Mexican people will have lasting effects on the relationship between our two countries. This wall will prove to be more dangerous than beneficial, and will create a literal and figurative divide between us and Mexico. I believe I speak for many when I say that this man does not represent our country, and his views and policies do not reflect that of the American people. I sincerely hope that our relationship with Mexico remains strong throughout this turbulent time in our history.