High School for me was the same as everyone else’s in regards to it being tougher than middle school. Race was relevant in middle school, but not to the extent of high school. In middle school, there was a large population of Latinos and a large population of black students, leaving whites as the minority. I didn’t feel a threat to my well being in middle school, and I did in high school.
I started high school at a private Catholic school. This was a school catered to a specific group of the population, which was predominantly white and upper-middle class. People in High School used to tell me, “Go back to Mexico,” and I was like, “I would if I could”. So the way my family has told me to deal with racism and the obstacles of being Latino in the U.S. is to just try and shrug it off, or joke about it, or find another way to deal with it, because in actuality, you can’t really do much about it.
“Go back to Mexico” and I was like, “I would if I could.”
If someone called me a name in high school, I could get mad, but my mom always says that, “What’s the point of you getting mad? You’re the only one getting mad. The other person, it doesn’t affect them. They’re not getting mad.” So most of the time, we don’t really get mad if someone insults us.
My dad on the other hand, had a different theory of what to do. My dad would always tell me, “If someone makes fun of you, you have the opportunity to fight back,” so I did get in fights in high school because of people being racist. So at this new High School was when I was really hit with the fact that I’m Mexican and I’m Latino.
“If someone makes fun of you, you have the opportunity to fight back.”
On top of the racism, when I was going through high school, my grades weren’t stellar, so my parents were able to tell me that I couldn’t drive because of my grades, or I couldn’t do this and that because of my bad grades, and I accepted this.
The summer before senior year, my dad brought me out to the car to talk to me about our family life. He told me all about our past and all about our family in Puebla. He told me that I was undocumented and didn’t have any papers. When I think back to my documentation, it actually impacted more than just me being able to drive or me applying to school, because there were normal kid things that I also couldn’t do. For instance, I couldn’t go to see an R rated movie with my friends, because if they asked for an ID, all I had was my expired passport.