Through indoctrination, subliminal programming, mind control, many from childhood are told they have to fit in. We have to be the same, dress the same, act the same, laugh at the same things. All we have to do is be ourselves 100%…love yourself. ~ Ralph Smart
Who in the world is Trina Otero? —– I asked myself this question my ENTIRE life. When I was younger [less than 10 years of age], I wondered who I was because my personality was so different from my peers. I liked to read all the time instead of talk about boys. I loved to write poetry. I drew. I enjoyed crossword puzzles and word search instead of sports and playing outside. I was sick all the time. I talked to things other people couldn’t see, and saw the future and omens in my dreams.
When my family moved from Fort Knox, KY to the civilian world [[gasps]], I was terrified. Of all places, we moved to a small city/town called New Albany in Indiana. I soon realized that I was very different, and I quickly noticed the segregation in my school. African Americans stuck together and the Caucasians stayed together. I noticed maybe 1-3 Asians and 1-3 people that looked like me [Latino]. For awhile, no one talked to me. I looked different. I sounded different [my parents have a strong Bronx accent]. I dressed different.
In high school I started to experience alienation and judgement from “my own people” — Latinos. There were less than 10 Latinos in my high school, but my best friend and I would go to these Cuban parties in Louisville on the weekends. When I chatted with other Latinos at these parties, they noticed I sounded different and that I was not fluent in Spanish. They started to label me.
“You are German.” Okay….I was BORN in Germany, that does not make me German.
“You are White.” Hmm…okay…last time I checked I didn’t know we could be a color. And in fact, my skin tone is actually olive.
“You are a Gringa.” Ohhhhh, wow… I’m not Caucasian or the classic “American.”
“Well, you are NOT Puerto Rican. You were not born in Puerto Rico. You don’t sound Puerto Rican. You don’t speak fluent Spanish either.” I am not a scientist, but if both of my parents are Puerto Rican, that means they have DNA, blood, and ancestors from Puerto Rico. Therefore, being their descendent, I am also Puerto Rican.
Really?!?! Growing up in the US Military, I never dealt with this shit. On base, I don’t remember kids looking at one another and pointing out our differences. All of us were accustomed to growing up with differences, and I thought it was “normal.” I did not know there was anything different. This used to be my world…a multicultural world.
Moving to the “civilian world” was the culture shock. I suffered insane identity issues well into my early 20s. It was in college that I began to understand myself and come to terms with who I am. And I found others who were just as awesome and open-minded, who never pointed out how different I was. I have some of the most amazing friends from my collegiate years. I love them. 🙂 [Special thank you to my Desi girls who took me under their wings.] It was in college that I began to meet people from Pakistan, India, Russia, Ukraine, Nigeria, Senegal, Ivory Coast, the Caribbean, Dominican Republic…and the list goes on. I joined their student organizations, and I asked questions about their cultures and their religions. I found more resonance and acceptance with all these diverse people [a.k.a. members of the world] than with my own “race.” I did not like labels. I still don’t. I did not like categories. I still don’t. I realized I am a world citizen. I am a hodge-podge of everything. I am Akosmopolite.
Anyone who knows me from IUPUI, knows I tackled the topic of self-identity within society with fervor. I was known for covering diversity issues within our campus community for our school paper. I knew that if I was dealing with self-identity issues, and trying to find my definition of Self, that others were too. And I knew that ignorance was a main reason why self identity issues even exist.
As a 26 year-old-woman, I have become so confident in myself and who I am. But to be honest, this faith in myself is fairly recent. Needless to say, I don’t cross paths with people who question my identity, or at least they don’t to my face. I cross paths with beautiful beings who thoroughly enjoy my company and what I have to offer, and they usually seem intrigued by me. And I am equally interested in them.
So, to my surprise, today I heard an interesting statement from a dear friend I have known for years. We were joking around on Skype and I told him I had eaten some rice and beans lately, and I said, “Duh! Hello, I am Puerto Ricaaaan.” His response was, “Well, actually you seem more White than Latina. Like, you don’t act like a Latina.” I don’t really remember my reaction, but he said my whole face changed within seconds. I do remember raising my eyebrows and in my head thinking….“what the fuck?”
“Wow….are you serious? I am not White. And wow…I can’t believe you said that,” was my response.
“Well, no, wait, I take that back. To me…you are a blend of ethnicities. You are this multi-ethnic person. You could go anywhere and blend right in.”
Uhh, hello, why do you think I call myself AKOSMOPOLITE? [I didn’t say this to him, I thought it to myself.]
“Yeah….I am a citizen of the world. I am everything,” I replied flatly.
He could tell something had changed. Honestly, I don’t get mad at things anymore, in general. And I have a stronger sense of self-control when it comes to my emotions. But I guess my face was bearing all to him. Inside I was shocked…I have not had anyone try to label me in years. I have not had anyone from within my “race” [if you want to call it that, I hate that word] try to label me. And I was honestly shocked to hear such a narrow opinion come from him… Of all people. I expressed this to him too. We ended our conversation shortly after this — he was convinced I was upset.
Am I upset? I think what upsets me is that a close friend labeled me. But lately I have been coming to terms with others who do and don’t accept me for who I am. I am upset that this is an issue that still permeates the Latino community. It pisses me off that this is an issue that still exists in society even though the younger generations seem more open-minded. Thank God I took time to get to know myself. I spent alone time after the break-up with my ex last year, so much alone time that everyone called me a hermit and I became chubby. My focus last year was to go within and pull everything into the Light — to know myself. But why should people have to wait until they are in their 20s to decide they’ve had enough criticism and alienation? Why can’t people be accepted for who they are at birth?
Why can’t people be shown that everyone is an INDIVIDUAL, meaning they are unique. No two people are alike, and they shouldn’t be. We are part of a Universal Collective but I believe we have unique traits. We all come from different backgrounds, we all have different memories and different thoughts. We all have different gifts and talents to offer mankind. Why is society not being taught this? Why is society being told to follow rules, being shown the clothes they “should” wear, and pushed to live a certain type of life?
Ignorance is something that is TAUGHT. Meaning, we have to help society unlearn it and teach society that it is perfectly okay — in fact, encouraged — to think OUTSIDE THE BOX. We don’t live in a box people. We don’t live in any kind of shape. Energy is energy and we flow freely. So be free.
Who in the world is Trina Otero? I am a citizen of the cosmos, a citizen of the world. I am everything and more. And my definition of Self will never cease to exist because I will continue to evolve into a greater being.
I like this definition I found on Wikipedia:
As you can see….the word is SELF-identity for a reason. Identity is all about WHO and WHAT you CHOOSE to be. WHO and WHAT you perceive yourself as. So, don’t let others’ opinions bother you. As long as you know who you are. That is the Truth you should hold onto.
P.S. Amorcito, if you read this…no, I’m not upset at you 😛 Thank you for sparking a flame. This is a topic I needed to cover! Tqm. ❤