Faces of Frisco: Being Latino
April 13, 2018
Latin Americans and Hispanics make up the largest ethnic minority in the United States with more than 10 million calling Texas home. There are a little more than 14,000 Latinos/Hispanics in Frisco, making it the largest minority in the city. With a variety of cultures making up the Latino/Hispanic community, Wingspan takes a look at three students on campus to get an insight into what it’s like to be of Latino culture in this continuing series taking a look at the demographics of Frisco.
provided by Thais Fernandez
Although 63.3 percent of the nation’s Latino or Hispanic population is Mexican, freshman Thais Fernández is of the 36.7 percent from a country other than Mexico as her family originates from Peru.
“In a city like Frisco that is mostly white, I feel like I am a part of something bigger as all us minorities are beginning to use our voices to help diversify this country even more,” Fernández said. “Being Latina means that I’m different from the average American because I’m a part of a foreign culture.”
The only one in her family born in America, Fernández sometimes feels detached from her Peruvian culture as her family moved to America a year before she was born in 2003.
“My family moved to the U.S. in 2002 and sometimes this causes me to feel a disconnect with my culture,” Fernández said. “All of my family members were born in Peru, and me being the only person born in America, I feel left out.”
Nevertheless, Fernández and her family celebrate the customs of Peru, as well as holidays influenced by her great great grandparents who were from Spain.
Although being a part of the Peruvian culture comes with traditional foods and ethnic practices, Fernández has also been subjected to racial stereotyping due to her ancestry.
“If you speak Spanish then you are automatically Mexican or another one is that I automatically like rice and beans just because I’m Latina,” Fernández said. “Assumptions directed specifically towards Peruvians is that we are all farmers that live in Machu Picchu.”
In addition to stereotypes, Fernández was and still is teased because of her name.
“A lot of the time I get made fun of because I have the very Latin name of Thais Fernández,” Fernández said. “When people say it wrong, most of the time they don’t even ask how to pronounce it correctly.”
On the other hand, being a part of a family from Peru gives Fernández the advantage of having Spanish as her first language.
“Being bilingual is better than speaking only one language because I can easily test out of my foreign language credits for high school,” Fernández said. “It looks good on resumes and applications when they see you speak two languages, especially Spanish.”
In addition to academic and job advantages, Fernández speaks Spanish at home and church.
“I speak Spanish on the daily at home and visiting relatives,” Fernández said. “I go to St. Francis of Assisi’s Spanish speaking services because it’s easier for my parents to understand.”
Because her mother Thais Costa de Fernández primarily speaks Spanish, she had to continue learning and practicing her English while they transitioned into life in the States.
“At the beginning it was hard because I was still learning English,” Costa de Fernández said. “I didn’t know English very well and my accent was so strong that no one knew what I was saying, which is very annoying when trying to ask questions about things.”
Even so, Costa de Fernández is happy they made the move and satisfied by her daughters’ experiences in America.
“After so many years of living here I can say my life is good and I feel happy that I am living in America,” Fernández said. “It was better than I expected since my daughters are doing great in school and living a safe and happy life.”
Pleased with her family’s life in America, Costa de Fernández still misses her family in Peru.
“Our whole family and good friends live in Peru and I miss it so much,” Costa de Fernández said. “It’s been extremely hard not being by the beach and close to my mom and where I grew up, but I try to go visit twice a year but mostly go once a year during Christmas.”
While the Fernández’s move to America wasn’t easy, their family back home showed their support as the move was much anticipated.
“We were always ready for a move,” Costa de Fernández said. “My family [back home] were supportive for making this move in order to make my family [here] become more successful in life.”
Being together, dancing to traditional music, and preparing foods native to their culture, expressing their Mexican heritage is not foreign to senior Alexis Roddy and her family.
However, with the Frisco demographic being predominantly white, at 75 percent, relating to others with the same Hispanic culture can be difficult for Roddy in her daily life.
“There will be times where I can’t relate to the people around me by just the difference of being raised differently and just being differently cultured,” Roddy said.
When comparing life to a city flourishing with the hispanic culture, Roddy feels a disconnection to her heritage with the lack of representation of Latino culture in Frisco.
“If I’m back home in El Paso, then it’s never hard to find things that bring me back to my culture,” Roddy said. “But, when I’m back in Frisco, there is hardly things that bring me back to my culture due to the lack of Hispanic representation.”
However, despite growing up in a Westernized society, Roddy’s childhood memories are filled with tradition and cultural aspects of her native country.
“We always [get] together for homemade Mexican food while music is playing with all the family dancing,” Roddy said. “Another one of my favorite traditions is coming together the day before Christmas Eve and making tamales with all of our family members.”
Roddy’s grandparents migrated from Juarez and Chihuahua, Mexico to provide a better opportunity for their children’s future. However, she believes that there is a common misconception of immigrant’s motives when moving to America.
“The most common misconception carried with Mexican immigrants is that they are all illegal who are only capable of doing manual labor like yard work or construction,” Roddy said.
Coming from a long line of family members in the medical and law field, Roddy challenges these ideas and opinions.
“In my family, there a lot of doctors, surgeons, and lawyers,” Roddy said. “They went past those stereotypes of a family moving from Mexico to the U.S. with not much other than the drive for a better life for them and their family.”
Having the opportunity of being raised in the United States with a latino heritage has given Roddy the advantage of knowing a second language.
“Being able to speak Spanish helps me to able to communicate with some of my relatives who don’t know English,” Roddy said. “Also, with wanting to go into the medical field, being able to speak Spanish will allow me to help any patients who don’t speak or feel comfortable communicating in English.”
However, along with its advantages, comes the disadvantages and stereotypes of being Latina in an American society.
“Latinas are known as ‘the loud one’, ‘always having an attitude’ and that cleaning is the only thing we’re ‘good at’,” Roddy said.
In today’s society, Roddy believes people should have an open mind to learning and accepting new ideas, opinions and cultures.
“People shouldn’t stereotype a whole culture based on what they hear on the news but instead get to know someone who is from that culture,” Roddy said. “Just asking questions and getting educated is one way to get rid of common misconceptions without being disrespectful.”
Roddy believes her culture is one of strong core values that she prominently expresses in her life.
“Being Latina means to be a strong, independent woman who values family and lives the different cultural aspects that come with being Mexican, “ Roddy said. “It makes me stand out in a positive light of being outgoing and not afraid of speaking out and being different.”
provided by Aricia Rodrigues
Although it is located and surrounded by Hispanic countries, Brazil is the only nation in Latin America that speaks Portuguese instead of Spanish allowing senior Aricia Rodrigues to say that she is one of the few Latino, but not Hispanic, students on campus.
“Most people think we speak Brazilian in Brazil,” Rodrigues said. “They think we all have dark skin complexions too.”
Along with the color of her skin being a common misconception, Rodrigues believes there are other factors that people believe set Brazilian culture apart from others.
“It’s common for people to think that [we] all have big butts and can samba,” Rodrigues said.
Although being surrounded by the Brazilian culture in her own home, Rodrigues has adapted to the American culture and relates to is at closely as her Latino heritage.
“I think because I’m so used to the culture and the way American people are, I don’t really have an odd feeling being so surrounded by white people,” Rodrigues said.
But aside from what others believe and being born and raised in the United States, Rodrigues still finds a way to embrace her culture at home alongside her family members.
“I think that because I was born and raised here in the U.S. I am well assimilated to the [American] culture,” Rodrigues said. “But, my family does eat a lot of Brazilian food at home like ‘feijoada’ and ‘brigadeiro’.”
Being taught Portuguese from a young age, Rodrigues believes that is has taught her to have an open mind to other cultures along with setting her future up for success.
“[I] can relate to other culture by knowing another language,” Rodrigues said. “But I also think that it can be really helpful in a professional, workplace environment.”
Having lived in Brazil for two and a half years, acquiring problem solving skills and learning to adopt a new way of life was common grounds for Rodrigues.
It was pretty difficult at the beginning because I didn’t know the language and their culture was pretty different to what I was accustomed to,” Rodrigues said. “But I definitely think in the long run living in a foreign culture really [opened] my eyes to new ideas and cultures.”
Accepting her culture and background, Rodrigues feels a stronger connection to her family through her Latin culture and believes it sets her apart as an individual.
“Being Latina makes me feel so much closer to my mom,” Rodrigues said. “I’m so proud to be Latina because it makes me feel unique and special in certain ways.”
Although she is proud of the culture that she comes from, Rodrigues believes she is very fortunate to live in the United States, a first world country.
“I think I’m very fortunate and blessed to grow and live in the US,” Rodrigues said. “But It also has made me so much more grateful for the things that I have today.”