Sandra Cisneros On Latinos Not Being “Authentic Americans”

The Hispanic/Latino community is a very diverse group and often they are asked the question: “Where are you from?” It’s a question that often comes up, perhaps due to curiosity or just simply the need to label you. The funny thing is that if you answer with simply “Chicago” or “Miami” or whatever city you are from, that’s not enough. They repeat the question, until you give them the specifics of your background. House on Mango Street author, Sandra Cisneros can relate, and in an interview with Jorge Ramos, she talks about the sense of “other” where she is constantly questioned about her American identity.

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“We’re always asked for our papers in a way. ‘Where do you come from? What’s that accent? Why do you talk like that,’” explains Cisneros. “We’re always asked for our spiritual papers in a way, even if we’re born and have lived in the United States for thirteen generations. So there’s always that doubt that we’re not the authentic ‘American’ when we talk about America.”

sandra cisnerosBorn and raised in Chicago, she’s always had to explain her Mexican roots. Then when she moved to the southwest part of the country (Texas), she even had to identify as a Chicano writer. “My papers had to change…I no longer was able to say, like I did in Chicago, ‘I’m Latina’ or ‘I’m Mexican’ because as soon as I said I was Mexican, people would say ‘Where in Mexico?’” She couldn’t explain that she was born in Chicago to Mexican parents.
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