Grisell Perez sits down on this episode of The Face of Latina Professionals Podcast to share what it means to her to be a Latina who grew up in Chicago.
Grisell talks about what it was like to grow up between two worlds. Born and raised in Chicago, she was raised by her Puerto Rican father and Mexican mother. Growing up in the 80s, she explains how it wasn’t cool to speak or act ‘Spanish’ even around other Latinos. Even though her mother would speak to her and her siblings in Spanish at home, Grisell shares how they’d only respond in English.
“You're caught in this world. You want to be cool with your friends, meaning, ‘Hey, I don't know what you're talking about. I don't know Spanish’, but then when you go back home, it was a pressure of, you know, ‘Hey, tu eres Latina.’”
Grisell goes on to talk about how this wasn’t specific to only heer experience. During that time in American history, most Latinos in this country stopped teaching their kids Spanish because they wanted to ‘Americanize’ as much as possible, or in Grisell’s words ‘whitewash’ to be more cool.
“A lot of my generation do not know how to speak Spanish or read it or write it or anything because that was erased growing up.”
She brings up an important discussion that surrounds all Latinos in the United States. On the one hand, in Grisell’s generation, it was seen as protection to make sure that kids learned English so they could better assimilate. However, now, speaking Spanish is revered and can often be a ‘badge of shame’ when people of Latino-descent don’t speak the language. Fortunately, for Grisell, her mother always spoke to her about the importance of learning their native tongue.
“She’d say, you get paid more. They want the best for you, I guess. You being young, you don't know. But now I'm happy.”
Tune in on this episode of The Face of Latina Professionals to hear more about Grisell’s story, what she’s up to these days, and get into the discussion between Grisell and our host around what it means to be Latino in today’s world.