Texas Latinas are different. We have grown up in dual spaces. Sure we share a lot of commonalities with our other fellow Latinas, BUT part of our identity is also shared with mainstream country white folks. I define Texas Latina a little differently than Tex-Mex. To me Tex-Mex is a blending of two cultures, which mutates and creates a new identity. I don’t identify with that 100%. For me being Texas Latina means I embrace both sides of my duality fully and equally.
To explain better I will give examples. I remember a co-worker of mine was putting us into categories one day (I know this was wrong, but it was co-worker happy hour talk) We are all Latinas from Texas and yet these were the categories. The two that grew up in interior Texas and were 3rd-4th generation Texan did not really relate to our Mexican roots, aside from memories of distant relatives.They don’t really speak Spanish but they do understand it. Now this is not to say they aren’t proud to be Latina, they very much are, but the ancestral heritage takes a backseat to their Texan identity. This category is “Tex-Mex.”
Then our co-worker turned to me, I am also a Latina born and raised in Texas but I am from the borderland, not the interior. To them I was different. I did not bashfully sly away from my Mexican heritage in conversations, I proudly owned it at all times. For me my Mexican heritage is front and center equally with my Texan identity. I speak Spanish fluently and in public. I did grow up spending a lot of my childhood weekends and summers in Mexico to visit our family so I do have a deep affection and familial tie to Mexico, it is where my mother was born and raised, it is a part of me. This category my co-workers named “Mex-Mex-Texan”
Then she went on to name the girls that were Mexican and only recently moved to the U.S. they obviously are very fluent in Spanish and prefer speaking that over English (as opposed to me, although I am considered fluent I prefer to speak English primarily.) Some of them had wealthier backgrounds – and had way better cars that most of us – This category she named “Elite-Mex”
Then we had two girls that were half Mexican and half white. They embraced their Mexican identities proudly also but had never visited Mexico. They learned to speak the language in college and spoke it only when necessary, and in a more text-book manner. In both cases it was the father that was Mexican not the mother, which I think makes a difference. She named this category “mutts” (yes we explained that it is offensive, although everyone was throwing digs at each other so we all had a good laugh and the next day we all were still friends)
How did we all get along? For sure the Tex-Mex girls ended up bonding more with the girls who were half Mexican / half white. To this day they are still friends. Then there were the Mexican girls and me, the Mex-Mex Texican, I did bond more with them than the others, they reminded me of being with my cousins in Juarez during my childhood. To them my accent (English accent causing my Spanish to sound different) was cute, they would kindly correct me if I mispronounced words, but appreciated that I was proud of my Mexican heritage. I was familiar with their way of expression and some of the formalities since I had visited often throughout my life, so we were able to have a connection a little deeper than with the others. To them I was considered the “Norte Americana.” I did also bond with the Tex-Mex girls, but only when we were talking about our favorite country music or something having to do with mainstream English-language Texan identity.
This is why I choose to identify as Texas Latina. To fully own your Latino heritage (in my case, Mexican) and equally fully own your Texan identity, I find many of my friends fit into this category. I have cried my eyes out to country songs the same way I have sang my heart out to rancheras. I love tequila AND whiskey. Weekends in our house had motown or duwop playing and every song every sang by Juan Gabriel and Rocio Durcal. I love Mexican enchiladas but the real kind, with red rice, not yellow or white and pinto beans not black beans. I also love my sweet tea on a hot summer day. My favorite pastimes include watching a football game and fútbol match. Of course many of these topics and ideas will be explored throughout my writings. I hope this has helped give you a small look into the world of the Texas Latina.