In January I had planned to go to meetings and events for both the Black Student Alliance and Latino Student Alliance, since I am both. I never did. For a couple of months I found myself trying to decide which ethnicity I identified most with. Looking at the populations for both, I already didn’t feel like I fit in with one or the other, and it’s the same feeling that has followed me since childhood. Too dark to be Latina, too light to be Black, spoke English too well, didn’t speak Spanish well enough, and not immersed enough in either culture to feel comfortable entering spaces dedicated to those specific ethnic groups. Somehow, everyone always knows when someone isn’t like the rest.
I wanted to be a part of one of the communities that CU Denver so often boasts are present on campus. I wanted to be able to graduate with a cultural stole to show my pride for my ethnicity, but Kente and Sarape sashes both felt incorrect for me. For me, being mixed is an ethnicity.
I didn’t find out until a month before graduation, via email, that CU Denver has Mixed Heritage programming through the Center of Identity & Inclusion. Two years here and I just finally heard about it. I had searched many times for a resource for AfroLatinas like myself with no results. But I now have a Mixed Heritage graduation cord that represents my mixed ethnicity that takes into account all of the parts that make the whole, not just one or another.
My new plan is to make it to one Mixed Heritage event, today, the last one of the year called Split Stories. There’s nothing I can do to make up for the lost time of not knowing about this programming, but I’ll be here for my graduate program next year, so I plan to take advantage of it and to let others like me know that we don’t have to choose one or the other or overload the schedule by trying to go to both. Because mixed ethnicities deserve their own recognition.
Guest columns are written by The Sentry staff to give them the experience of writing an editorial and the platform to share their stories.