I was trying to think of a particular moment where being a Latina has been a struggle and I really can't think of one particular occasion. I think, for me, the prejudice I've felt against me hasn't been more of a time when someone has said something to me, but more of a feeling that I get when I'm the only woman of a color in a group. That has never happened in El Paso for obvious reasons, but I attended a university with a vast majority of a white population. That was the most unsettling culture shock ever!
Even before I even started my classes I already felt the disconnect between myself and those around me. Before classes started, I attended a camp where we are taught school traditions and what it means to be an Aggie. Out of a group of 72 people, only three weren't white. THREE. THREE!!!! I definitely felt it the whole time I was there. People wouldn't really want to listen to what I had to say and when I'd start to speak, they'd talk over me in a louder voice, like they were more entitled to their opinions than I was to mine. Sadly, that was a pattern that kept recurring throughout my entire college career. I went from being someone who was extremely outspoken to a timid girl who hardly said anything. I hated it. I love my opinions and I love to state them, but I rarely ever did anymore. In retrospect, I know I should have just talked louder than their louder voices and I should have made myself heard, but I just learned to choose my battles.
It's the feeling of feeling like a minority that has been a challenge to me as a Latina. It's the looks I would get when I would speak Spanish, as if it was some evil tongue that no one must speak. It was the faces people would make when I'd talk about menudo, even though it's delicious and they've never tired it. It was the condescending questions and corrections I'd get if I ever happened to mispronounce something. Little things like that amount to a constricting feeling that made me feel like an outsider sometimes.
Although the feeling of being an outlier never left me, I learned to ignore it and still succeed. Maybe my fellow students didn't want to hear my opinions, but I always worked hard and I wrote essays with depth that caught my professors' attention. They wanted to hear what I had to say and they were always eager to give me an opportunity to talk. In the end, it doesn't matter what my classmates think about my intelligence or not. They might have thought that because I'm Hispanic I don't know as much as they do or I can't speak English as well as they can, but I've proven over and over that they're wrong.
When people want to make you feel lesser than them, it gives you an excellent opportunity to prove them wrong.