Ingrid Box is a cross-cultural kid (CCK) who grew up in New York City with Hispanic immigrant parents during the 1980s.
From a different place and time, Ingrid’s parents often didn’t understand all of the aspects of U.S. culture that would otherwise suit a kid. Assimilation was hard, and sometimes she felt it worked for all of the wrong reasons. Her home life differed from that of what you’d think as a standard of a typical kid: She’d find her family speaking Spanish amongst themselves, eating Hispanic food and overall acting Hispanic.
In a flash, Ingrid changed her perspective once she’d cross the front door and enter the U.S. world right beside her. Crossing the barrier, Ingrid would make her way to school. Befriending African-American kids, who spoke of stories of their passing weekend, she found herself living a separate kind of life.
With those contrasts in mind, Ingrid says, “you spend most of the time trying to hide your differences from the other kids.” Box claims that her life tended to be sheltered, and that’s the way she kept it. Her family saw an outside world that varied dangerously from the roots that bound them. With that, this tree blossomed with family affairs that avoided the strange, with seeds that flourished inside of that comfort zone, not knowing it was safe and okay to venture or maneuvering outside of what’s known and familiar.
Macaroni and cheese is something that most people wouldn’t bat an eyelash at if they were to hear it in conversation. Not Ingrid. The food her family made was strictly Hispanic and otherwise didn’t change, with an emphasis on beans and rice. Excuse me, black beans and rice. In fact, she hadn’t a clue that baked M&C existed until she was 21 years old. Her lifestyle strayed into a place that a lot of kids didn’t empathize with, let alone understand. Because of this, Ingrid didn’t discuss her personal life with the peer-counterparts surrounding her. With the inability to participate in after-school activities, Ingrid crafted a sturdy wall that kept away the outsiders and guarded her immediate family within.
It was beans and rice or rice and beans all day every day, and those beans were always black.
As she grew up, Ingrid has learned to accept the world around her on an intimate, confident level — her past now shaping the woman of color with a proud Latin/Hispanic background that guided her into who she has become.
Ingrid’s horizons have broadened, where she now loves speaking of her past and embracing her roots; identifying herself while honoring the ones that have gotten her to the here and now. Her sheltered roots have transformed and shaped a new view, a view that engages others in asking about her.
Ingrid’s cross-cultural background has enabled her to walk the edges of culture at ease, and welcome diverse points-of-view. Throughout it all, Ingrid has become a dignified woman of color — a woman who clutches life of all kinds, tightly, with a grasp around acceptance and a love to all people who need only ask.
It was a challenge, but I would not change how I was raised.Ingrid Box