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LatinitasMagazine.org - A Strong Voice for Latina Youth

This past weekend I was very fortunate to be asked to help out at a  Latina Identity Summit conference at the El Paso Public Library. The conference was a gathering for Latinas in El Paso to take part in discussions about the complexity of the Latina identity. What I loved about this particular conference was the fact that it did not just involve people going to an auditorium to hear guest speaker's lectures but it involved the participation of every person in the conference. They put women into groups that were lead by facilitators to start interesting discussions on the Latina Identity. As I walked by I noticed that each table had a different dynamic. I heard women talking about the uneasy feeling Latinas can have when checking the white option when applications ask for what race they identify with. There were questions as to if they identify with being Latina, Chicana, Mestiza or just a want to be known as a woman. Then there is the worry and insecurity that comes with being told you are not Latino enough because you do not speak Spanish. At the same time other Latinas face discrimination for speaking Spanish at school where they strictly enforce the use of only speaking English.

As a Latina with weak spanish speaking skills I can identify with being told I am not Latina enough. I remember being so offended growing up when people referred to me as being "guera" or "gringa". I would be so upset with my mother for not enforcing spanish in the house. Now looking back I can see that spanish was all around me and I understand it well I can also read spanish very well. Knowing spanish does not make a person more Latino and not knowing spanish does not make you any less Latino. All that is needed is if you yourself feel Latino if you do then you are. This summit brought me to know more about myself as a Latino and a woman. One of the facilitators brought up strengths we have as women two of them were being strong and being sensitive. The facilitator brought up that the two concepts can seem like total opposites, but a woman brought up a good point that stood out to me, she said that you cannot be strong if you are not sensitive to people's needs. Sensitivity is seen as a weakness women have and not a strength. From now on every woman should consider and know that our sensitivity are what makes Latinas strong.

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