Master's Student, Drexel University College of Medicine
I AM, Mexican-American.
Out of my mother’s womb, I came.
Yet, out my society, I had to choose who “I” became.
You’re Mexican-American! I’m told.
Mexican by blood, American by birth; Is what I portray.
I’ll never be Mexican or American enough for YOU, anyway!
Infancy? Childhood years?
Never was I consumed with fears.
Adolescence, however, made identity crisis a friend.
Choose carefully? I say.
I’ll never be Mexican or American enough for ME, anyway!
At home I spoke Spanish.
At school I was made to speak English.
Yet, language was not the only thing I swayed about.
What culture would I had to downplay?
I’ll never be Mexican or American enough for THEM, anyway!
My identity as a Mexican was all I ever knew to be.
The food, the music; The language, the heritage. How can I flee?
No matter what I did, I always had to return to what felt like home.
Still, society would tell me I had to choose one to display.
I’ll never be Mexican or American enough to SHOW, anyway!
Choosing to be American was due to fear of not wanting to be an outcast.
Friends, school, and family made holding down to Mexican values a thing of the past.
“You’re to succeed for the better”, my mom would repeat.
Being Mexican was filled with shame; American I was to convey.
I’ll never be Mexican or American enough for US, anyway!
A higher education made my parents proud.
Yet, my experiences would cry out: “Which culture, was I allowed?”
Embrace who you are! What?
Mexican? American? Which way?
I’ll never be Mexican or American enough for BOTH, anyway!
Twenty-one years have passed. Oh, how many more to go?
Each day I learn to be proud, yet I will still question my identity though.
Wrong? Right? Who knows?
I’ll chose to be Mexican-American each day.
I’ll never be Mexican or American enough for ONE, anyway.
—Daisy M. Salazar
BEHIND THE POEM. -What does it mean for me?
In its totality, my poem consists of 35 lines, with each quintet following a rhythmic pattern of AABCC. My intention is to allow the audience to enter my difficult journey of self-identity emotionally and intellectually. The overall message of my poem is to convey the challenges within my self-identity (Mexican-American) that came as a harsh realization during my adolescence years, and more prevalent in my young adulthood life. Essentially, I am reflecting on each experience as a Mexican-American and what they meant to me. The conflict of identity is intended to be reflected by using repetition plus variation through the following line of: “I’ll never be Mexican or American enough for YOU, anyway.”. As the poem progressed, the YOU, varied with other pronouns, verbs, and adjectives. Through the variation of the one word, I intended to closely reflect the meaning of a personal experience within each quintet. Strategically opening and closing my poem with “Mexican-American”, is meant to show the transition of having society define my identity, and how I now am allowing myself to redefine what it means to be Mexican-American. The struggles of being Mexican-American were perhaps brought by my parents’ decision to move from Mexico to America. Nevertheless, I have the privilege to embrace both cultures, and thus also made my parent’s struggles mean something.
About the Author: My name is Daisy Salazar. I was born & raised in Los Angeles, California. I am a First-Generation college graduate currently living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, working on obtaining my Master’s in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences. I identified as a Mexican-American who wants to utilize the knowledge gained to empower and expand healthcare information to my community, who often experience inadequate care, poor healthcare outcomes, and healthcare illiteracy. As a Latina pursuing a field prominently exclusive of my gender, race, and ethnicity, my experiences have shaped me to strengthen and unify opportunities to improve healthcare for the medically underserved population. In pursuit of helping my community, I have served in California’s FQHC AltaMed, as a Community Health Fellow, as a patient representative, and as a project intern. Throughout these experiences, I have bridged the gap in promoting health wellness & preventive care measures, educated the community, & supported COVID-19 containment efforts. I continued this work in Philadelphia through volunteering services in Puentes de Salud, however focusing more on the youth. What I have learned through these experiences is the common theme of serving my Latino community and the privilege of having access to obtaining an education.
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