Orlie Hernandez

My dad works in Mexico-- he travels back and forth from McAllen, TX every day. Because he earns money in pesos, where 22 pesos is the equivalent of 1 USD, I see the sacrifice and the struggle that he makes as a resident of the US trying to support a family in the US on Mexican currency. But I see the sacrifice that my mom makes even more: I see the emotional sacrifice she’s made to stay in the position that she’s in so that my father can be the breadwinner of the family—a result of Machismo

I’ve really struggled with the concept of Machismo in Mexican culture: where men are expected to act a certain way, talk a certain way, to be tough and masculine, to be the breadwinner. I never felt like I fit into that role and as a result It really prevented me from being comfortable with my family, and even from pursuing musical theatre, which I love. I always felt like I needed to do something more, always felt this responsibility as the only grandson of the family to choose a profession that would earn more money in the future. 

Despite my extended family in Mexico seeing me as becoming too gringo, too ’American’, I’ve always been proud of my culture. I’m proud of the unanimous spirit and perseverance we have to keep fighting as a culture, which inspires me to rise against the odds. As a darker-skin Hispanic, I see the disparity between lighter-skinned Mexicans of European descent and darker-skinned Hispanics, a result of colonialism, and want to rise against the expectations that people have for me. 

I’ve always been proud of my culture. I’m proud of the unanimous spirit and perseverance we have to keep fighting as a culture, which inspires me to rise against the odds.

To anyone who struggles with their culture, I’d say: We need to look at our history and understand that where we are now in this position today as Mexicans, as Latinos, is because of our strong sense of community and culture. We need to understand that this road has been paved for us because of those before us. We need to learn about our roots and about the beauty of our cultures, because then we can see that there is so much to be proud of. 

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