I’m a mixed girl, a child of immigrants that was born in Spain. I was raised in Spain, I studied in Spain and am currently living in Spain. But do I feel Spanish? Absolutely not.
There’s not one single drop of Spanish in my blood. My ancestors did not participate in Spanish history, I do not have a Spanish family, I do not feel represented in Spanish media, I do not like paella, nor jamón and I deeply dislike toros. Not even my name, Hannah, is Spanish.
My childhood, as the daughter of an English professor, was more foreign than Spanish. At the age of four I could sing Disney songs in English better than I could speak my mother’s language.
When I was eight, I would get pissed if anyone would suggest that I was Spanish. At fourteen, I could name every single fact about the American Civil War. At seventeen, I could understand the American educational system as well as the names of every president of the United States and the accomplishments of their administration.
I was and still am the weirdo that spends her summer learning about President Kennedy or the Six Nations. The one that will stay up late at night just to listen to the president’s announcements and the one that understands American politics better than those of her own country.
America is my learning subject. I am passionate about America.
A couple of days ago, my economics teacher finally said what I’ve been thinking about for a while now... America is a melting pot.
And yes, there is racism and classism, and so many isms. And yes, it has a long way to go. But it is a melting pot.
With a population of 13% Blacks, 5% Asians, 17% Hispanics and 1.2% Native Americans, it’s a very attractive idea to me as a melting pot myself, to be surrounded by so many ethnicities. Racial diversity is one of the most important things for me when it comes to considering places to live. (London is also high on the list).
As much as I try not to erase my mixed identity, I normally identify myself as politically black although there were no black people in my background while growing up other than my father.
We all know how important it is to have figures and references to look up to especially when we’re little. Not having figures that looked like me didn’t make things easier.
The only black people I ever saw on TV were black Americans. They were on the Cosby Show, Family Matters and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I consumed every single Eddy Murphy film, sang along to Sister Act and learned about slavery and the history of black people in America with Whoopi Goldberg.
The same applied to books and music.
Slowly all those cultural figures got ingrained in my brain. And all those figures were indeed American.
You may ask, why not choose your parents’ countries as your own? Well, cultural and religious differences, the authoritarianism of their respective governments (which would make my experience there suffocating) and last but not least, the language barrier.
This doesn’t mean I won’t care about those countries, au contraire! I try to learn and educate myself about them everyday, even though it doesn’t come as naturally to me as the subject of America does.
I’ve never been properly introduced to my parents’ respective cultures and have been pretty much an uprooted person all my life.
I’ve come to the conclusion that, the majority of the nations have been Americanized in some sort of way (thanks, globalization!) and as I did not belong to any specific country nor was I raised in any specific culture, I snatched this “imposed culture” to reclaim it as my own.
I’m a citizen of the world, I’m not from here nor there, but if you ask me, I know more about and feel more connected to America than I do to Spain, Morocco, Cameroon or any other country.
Hannah Soraya is a Spanish born and raised college girl. She sings, plays the guitar, piano and also writes for Teen Diaries and From A Wild Flower. She dreads stability and willful ignorance and is interested in lots of different things that include intersectional feminism, ancestry and egyptology. While she'd spend the rest of her life learning and traveling, her actual goal is to empower young girls of color through her writing. Find her here!