Students of Color Perspectives: Double Life

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Hello! I’m Alejandra, Ali for short, Gatas Johnson and I will be one of your first-year bloggers for Students of Color Perspectives. I blog about what it means to be of mixed heritage (Afro-Venezuelan, American Swedish, and Warao Indian) and what it means to be a student of color in general here at Brown!

As a mixed student, I have always felt like I could never be my full self. I come from Fort Collins, CO: a beautiful, but extremely white-washed city. I always felt like I could only embrace my white-Swedish side. I abandoned my Latina name, Alejandra, and replaced it with a more accepted name, Ali. The only time I felt like I could accept my Latina side and my legal name was when I was in a Latinx community or visiting my dad in Venezuela. I felt like I was living a double life. I was Miley Stewart hiding my Hannah Montana.

Being a student of mixed heritage is a blessing and a curse. I have a rich blended personal culture and I have the opportunity to explore and relate to many social groups and backgrounds. However, at the same time, I feel like I never really belong to any group. I have always felt ostracised for being different. I was the too Latina to feel comfortable in my hometown and too white and American to be a Latina. I can’t fully empathize with the black, Latinx, or white communities. It is like being a universal remote control, always being able to connect and change the volume, but never able to explore all of the gadgets and capabilities that a remote intended for the technology could provide.
When I came to Brown, I finally had the chance to live my full self and be the universal remote that I am. I could be both Ali and Alejandra. I have found that Brown students in general tend to be unique and celebrate one another for each other’s differences. The student body does not care about what race you are. People just want to get to know you, the person. There is little pressure to conform.

I can be myself. I don’t need to have any label attached to me. I don’t need to have to chose a ‘color.’ I can just be me. It is a breathe of fresh air. I don’t need to put on a facade. My peers accept me for all of my sides. Friends are made based on souls, not for the color of their skin or the ethnicity of their parents. I no longer feel like I am constantly spinning trying to balance by backgrounds. I can just relax. Thank you Brown for finally giving me a community, a home.

If you have any questions or comments about this post or about being a student of color in general, please hit me up at alejandra_gatas_johnson@brown.edu.

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