As a Mexican immigrant who has spent most of her life in Colorado, Diana Castro is a cross-cultural illustration.
FROM A LOVING HOME
Born in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico to a lawyer father and administrator mother, Castro found joy in being surrounded by her family and heritage in Mexico. The Castros made their way to the United States in the early 2000s to join extended family and find work.
In an interview, Castro had to take a moment to consider what “home” means to her. Ultimately she concluded, “Home will always be where my family is, and where I feel the most comfortable being myself and celebrating my heritage.”
Heritage and love go hand and hand for Castro, who deeply cherishes her relationship with family and culture. She also finds strength in celebrating her Mexican identity: “I wear my Orgullosamente Sinaloense—Proud to be Sinaloens— T-shirt, which may be a small gesture. But it takes a lot of courage for me to wear, especially in a predominantly white town.”
Culture also comes with a focus on emotion and closeness for Castro, who explained, “I full heartedly feel my culture in my soul.” However, distance has made her connection to her culture more difficult. She finds it harder to connect to a Mexican heritage as a Colorado resident, while simultaneously feeling connected to Mexican culture through her parents.
ON COMFORTING OTHERS
Though Castro embraces her cross-cultural identity, she also faces obstacles as a woman of color in an American setting. Even seemingly simple things like language can have a major impact. Castro used her name to exemplify this, “I was so tired of feeling embarrassed for pronouncing my name in Spanish that I changed it.” In day to day interactions, Castro introduces herself with the American pronunciation of Diana, which she said leads to a flawed perception of her identity.
It can be exhausting to feel like everyone is expecting you to act a certain way because of who they think you are.
In a community with people who are not from the same background, Castro is often expected to behave as a “Fiesty Latina.” Castro detailed that this perception, and the pressure to adhere to it, lowers a person’s self worth. This micro-aggression is also incredibly difficult to combat, as the dominant group can’t “truly know what that feels like.”
However, Castro maintained that comfort is vital to forming healthy relationships. Answering questions can be productive; Castro proclaimed that she loves engaging with curious minds. Conflict only arises when privileged people “do not know how to measure the appropriateness of a question and if at that point, they are stereotyping or not.” It is then the responsibility of the privileged to listen, learn, and provide opportunities for marginalized groups to speak for themselves.
Castro finds it “heartwarming to see dominant groups engaging and keeping themselves educated.” This will help form a sense of unity between dominant and marginalized communities. The hope here is that conversation will facilitate a change in disparity.
Featured image © Tomas Castelazo, www.tomascastelazo.com