Meet Tatiana

Tatiana with her abuelita
The author with her abuelita

By Tatiana Rodriguez

I’m originally from Spokane, WA but have moved around the area since I was young. I don’t come from a traditional household—my siblings are 10+ years older than me, and we don’t have the same father. My parents were never married and I’m different from both sides of my family. My father is from Venezuela and my mother is White. When my father speaks, he has an accent—his entire family have a light-to-dark brown skin tone. When I visit them, I stick out like a sore thumb. Growing up, people would assume that he had taken me from my home, because we don’t have the same skin color. Sometimes when I was mad at him in public, I would yell “Help!” to random strangers. That’s a different story, but it was still fun.

My mom’s side of the family has blonde hair and blue eyes. Our skin color is the same, but our names are different. I’m the only one with such a different name. I HATED my first name until my freshman year of high school, and I went by “Tia” instead.  I can distinctly remember being in fifth grade and telling my mother how I was going to change my name when I turned 18. I felt like I didn’t have a true place to belong because I was different from everyone around me. That’s where most of my issues stem from.

All too often, people make comments about my name. “Oh, it’s so unique!” or “Wow, that’s two different cultures!” “Are you Russian?” Now that I’m older, I’ve grown to love the uniqueness of my name. But that doesn’t mean I don’t face discrimination from it. I have professors, doctors, and even potential bosses say that they didn’t know who was going to walk through the door. Or, my favorite, “You’re not all how I pictured you to be.” How else would you picture someone? I have two eyes, a nose, ten fingers, and ten toes.

I’ve also had people say how I’m too white to be Hispanic, or my features aren’t Hispanic enough. Again, I really don’t know how to respond. Sometimes people don’t believe I can even speak Spanish, and I have to prove that I can. My name is Hispanic, but I don’t look like it fits me.

At this point in my life, I have accepted these comments and learned that some people just won’t understand. That’s what I want to bring to this blog—more uniqueness and visibility to the Hispanic population. I want to cover Venezuelan issues, such as Maduro’s presidency, and other topics, perhaps highlighting empowering women like Meryl Streep, and emerging new artists like H.E.R. I hope to cover a variety of different issues, and especially, to open readers’ attention to Latina topics.

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