Ni de aquí, ni de allá by Karen Martinez-Beltran ’19

There’s this saying that goes something like: “Ni de aquí, ni de allá” 

“Not from here, nor there” 

You see, I was born in a different country than the one I’m living in right now. I was conceived from a tan mother and a light-skinned father. In the beautiful Country you visit while on spring break.

And no, I was not born in Puerto Vallarta Jalisco or Cancun or any other resort you go on vacation.

I was born in the beautiful Cuernavaca, Morelos.

La ciudad de eterna primavera

“The city of eternal spring.” 

Now, even though I was born in a different country, I was raised in the great USA. 

My mother brought me here when I was only two months old. 

Two.

Two months, eight weeks, sixty days.

Those two months make a difference between my ability to vote, to travel, get a license, work, apply for FAFSA, for scholarships, grants—almost everything.

Those two months hold me back from doing so much.

Like an ankle bracelet that electrocutes my body every time I try to even look at something I know I won’t be able to do.

I can’t complain too much about it, though.

There’s so many other people out there who wish they were in my shoes.

Who wish they could go to school, a school as great as mine.

 

My friends back in my city are always making jokes about my school.

About how “white” it is, about how “white” I am.

“You must go to a lot of fancy places, with all those white folks you be hanging around.”

And when they’re not joking around about my school, they joke around about me.

“You’re so white, you don’t even need to worry about getting detained.”

As if I don’t come from the same place they do. Speak the same language. Celebrate the same culture.

It’s as if I’m too white for the Mexicans and too Mexican for the whites.

“All you have to do is say: ‘Sorry, I don’t speak Spanish’ and ICE would leave you alone.”

“You look so white, you don’t even look like you speak Spanish.”

That’s what most confuses me, though.

At school, I’m the one everyone turns to when the teacher asks for a translation from Spanish to English.

The one they turn to when Mexico, 5 de Mayo, spicy food, or the movie Coco is mentioned in class.

The one they always come to for help with their Spanish homework.

And when I say, “I don’t get any of this, I’m sorry.”

I get hit with: “But aren’t you from like, Mexico or something? Shouldn’t you know this stuff?”