“Do you know any cartel members?”
“I heard it’s like, really dangerous there.”
“Aren’t you scared to visit?”
These are only a few of the reactions I’ve received when I tell people I’m Mexican-American. A few would think I’m ashamed to say where my family and roots come from, but in reality that’s not the case. I say I’m Mexican-American with the utmost admiration. I am beyond proud of my roots and am honored to say I’m from such a beautiful place such as Guerrero, Mexico.
When I was three years old, my mom was deported. It was just my dad, my older brother and me. My parents decided to send me back to Mexico to live with my mom while my dad took care of my brother — but when I turned four and was about to start school, I came back to Texas. I continued to visit Mexico every summer for about 12 years — and let me tell you, it’s my favorite place to be. It’s nothing like what I’m used to in Dallas. There aren’t skyscrapers or busy streets lined with honking cars. There aren’t department stores on every corner or fast food restaurants as far as the eye can see.
Guerrero is my home. It’s similar to a village, which we call “pueblos;” everyone knows everyone, and we all look out for each other like family. My mom was never worried about me when I’d leave at night, because there was always someone watching over me. There are mountains and trees everywhere, with fresh air and a carefree aura around the entire town. It’s where I picture myself when I get stressed. It’s a place I want to take my children someday. It’s my happy place.
When I turned 16, my mom told me I was beginning to “develop” and didn’t allow me to go to my happy place anymore. The summer of 2013 was the last time I took a visit to Guerrero.
It made me incredibly sad to explain to my friends that I could no longer visit because of the cartels, kidnapping, sex trafficking, etc. There were too many news reports and my parents didn’t want to risk anything by letting me visit — but that’s not my Mexico.
Mexico is some of the most beautiful landscapes you will ever see. Mexico is walking around your pueblo, seeing smiles everywhere you look and saying hello to every single person, because everyone is family. Mexico is being out until late in the evening, talking to your neighbors about anything and everything. Mexico is so much beauty and culture around every corner. Mexico is not the scary, violent place that the world has made it out to be. There are parts of it that fit that description, but it’s a small part. A violent minority does not equate a violent majority.
Being Mexican-American is the best thing I could be, and I will never be ashamed to say it. I’m so proud to have Mexican roots and to be from such an amazing place. It has its flaws, just like every place in this world does, but you can always count on me standing up for my heritage, for my people, for my happy place.
Natty Cervantes is a business junior.