We continue with part two of the three-part series on Sydney Shalz’s intercultural modern family. Shalz’s mother is Caucasian American, while her stepfather was born in Mexico and speaks fluent Spanish and English. Her older stepbrother (whom she considers her brother – nothing “step” about it) also speaks fluent Spanish. Though Shalz understands Spanish, she doesn’t speak it; and her younger half-brother only speaks English.
“My upbringing was definitely different from all of my friends,” said Shalz, “I grew up in Highlands Ranch, Colo. which is predominantly, if not all, white – we had two Mexicans (including my brother) in my entire high school.” Shalz thinks her upbringing was different because of her stepfather’s influence.
“He immigrated from Mexico and he really supported his family. He learned to drive a truck at 6-years-old, 7-years-old, I think,” she said, adding that her stepfather supported his entire six-person family by age 13. “He has a very strong work ethic and that was instilled onto us,” she added. “Nothing was below us, we did everything – yard work, we cleaned the house, and we did everything.” Shalz went on to say that she believes her stepfather’s culture has strong family values that also were instilled into her and her siblings.
Even so, thoughts like the ones perpetuated by Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump, who at the announcement of his bid for our nation’s highest office, stated:
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
One can’t help but wonder what feelings such statements evoke in people who are characterized in such a manner. Though Trump’s rhetoric is hard-hitting and, because of his platform, far-reaching – minor everyday statements may cause just as much harm.
Shaz related a story of her younger brother, the biological son of her mother and stepfather: “We live in Highlands Ranch and we always had really nice cars. And we actually got three cars stolen from out in front of our house,” she imparted. “Mexicans would drive through our neighborhoods on the weekends to go through the trash or if you left anything out – a lot of people left nice furniture out – so they would just take it.” She relayed that people often commented that “Mexicans were always stealing stuff, they’re always taking stuff – going through the trash.” So when one of the family’s cars was stolen, her young brother came to his own conclusion based on comments he’d overheard: “Mom, it was those Mexicans,” he accused. To which Shalz’ mother advised her son that he, too, is Mexican. “He started bawling,” recalled Shalz, “because he thought it meant thief.”
I just think that’s very interesting because our culture kind-of, you know, teaches people to self-hate at such an early age,” she deduced.
The next and final segment of this three part series will discuss, now that Shalz has entered adulthood, how her intercultural family experiences have affected her.