Students of Color Perspectives: My Latinidad Culture Shock

Hi there! I’m Laura Muñoz, a Freshman from Miami. I’m your Students of Color Perspectives blogger and I’ll write about what it means to be a proud First-Gen, Feminist Cubanita here at Brown (the best school on Earth).

When people discuss moving to a new place for school, they talk a lot about culture shock- a phenomenon that everyone experiences. When I anticipated the culture shock I would be experiencing, I thought it would come in the form of meeting international students from countries I do not know anything about, or someone from a tiny town in the Midwest, or maybe someone from New York’s Upper East Side (I’ve already met two, actually). I saw culture shock as something heavily related to geography, class status, or the culture of a country itself, but the biggest culture shock I have experienced came from something I thought I already knew everything about: latinidad. In the five weeks I have been at Brown I have learned more about the spectrum of Latinidad than I ever did living almost my entire life in a predominantly-Cuban community in Miami.

I learned that the spectrum of Latinidad is one that is messy, confusing, diverse, and non-linear. It is not something that cannot be easily defined and it most definitely is not one-size fits all.

At home, everyone was Cuban, either born on the island and immigrated to the U.S. at a very young age or born in the U.S. to Spanish-speaking Cuban parents. My definition of a Latinx person was someone who spoke fluent Spanish, ate the traditional foods of their country, had a last name that sounded Spanish (like Rodriguez, Nuñez, or Lopez), and generally followed the traditions of their culture. Being at Brown completely annihilated that archetype. I realize that identifying as Latinx can most definitely mean not speaking a word of Spanish. Or having a last name that doesn’t end with a z and being the fastest Spanish-speaking person in a room. It can mean not “looking Latinx” (whatever that means). These measures of Latinidad vary from one individual to the next and no one person is “more Latinx” than the other. Identifying as Latinx is an individual choice, and the types of people who identify as such varies so greatly- it is what makes our spectrum beautiful.

At Brown, these variations of Latinidad are welcomed and celebrated by the Latinx community. For me, interacting with people of all spectrums of Latinidad in my classes, at the Ratty, and in LASO meetings (hooray for shameless plugs!) has been a learning opportunity- one I think should be embraced by all students- and I have found definitely is.

 

Until next week,

Laura
If you have any questions, comments, or just want to chat, please feel free to email me at laura_munoz@brown.edu. (Seriously, do. I love talking about Brown. I’m obsessed with this place.) Gracias!

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