My grandfather was the first cuban rafter. He risked his life escaping Castro, in search of a better life. He spent six days at sea in his raft built from bamboo and tires. He was finally rescued miles off Pompano Beach, Florida in shark infested water after a two men decided to go out early that morning to catch some fish. He came to America in search of a better life, he left behind everything he owned and his family. My other grandfather, fought against communism in the Czech Republic, saved lives of individuals without asking a single question, and fought to live in America. Each of them taught me something… what it means to embrace my heritage.
Growing up, I have never been ashamed of my heritage, of where my parents and grandparents came from. I’m proud to be American, but I’m also proud to be Czech and Cuban. Every party, every holiday, and every get together, I was placed into a group of diversity. I have learned what it means to be proud of your past. I think the reason for this was that my heritage was not based on my race, how I spoke, how my parents spoke, how my parents looked, or even what people thought of me. Your heritage is something that you should be proud of, because it isn’t based upon what society believes you should be as an American, but its something that makes you who you are. Your heritage is something that brings uniqueness to you and creates diversity in the United States.
People all over the world tend to find it difficult to embrace their heritage, especially people from the United States. There is some sort negative stigma attached in embracing your heritage in America, but there is nothing wrong with embracing where you came from. The negative stigma has made it difficult for people to embrace their culture; they believe their parents/grandparents aren’t “American” enough according to today’s society, so they push away their love ones. But… the one question I will always ask is “what is American enough?” to society. How can we based people on their heritage, whether they are “American” enough?
People who are struggling to accept their heritage don’t really understand why it is important. Accepting your heritage starts with your roots, rather than how your parents speak or the color of your/their skin.
While people still tend to judge me because I don’t look “as hispanic” as other people and my Spanish isn’t perfect. Some how I still am able to ignore those statements because to me, my Spanish may not be perfect, but I tried hard enough to keep my roots within me. It helps me stay connected to my heritage. Some people don’t think I’m Czech enough because my hair isn't blonde and my eyes aren’t blue.
Society has placed classic labels on how someone who has a different nationality must look or act. The way you look or act has nothing to do with embracing your past. There is no need to be embarrassed on your love ones because your heritage and culture might be different from others. That is truly something to be proud of, and even understand important to understand your history, and the struggles and pain that your ancestors experienced. Its time to embrace those who fought for you, without even knowing you at the time or even at all. You wouldn’t be living the way you do without them. They went through so much, and its time to embrace your heritage because you will be building upon it. You will be adding greatness to it and your future family will be embracing the heritage you have created. Don’t be ashamed in embracing it all and building upon it because you aren’t alone. I’ll be doing it with you.
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