Meet 2018 Scholarship Recipient, Amy

Meet 2018 Scholarship Recipient, Amy

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For consecutive years, we’ve awarded a scholarship to a graduate of Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet High School (MLK) that has demonstrated excellence in academics and writing.  This year’s recipient, Amy Guerrero, wrote about a deeply personal transformation she underwent, by recognizing and embracing her potential from what she once perceived as doubts.  Congratulations, Amy!

Individualism

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By Amy Guerrero

I remember locking the bathroom door so my mom would never catch me shaving my arms. Standing awkwardly under the shower head, instant regret filled my mind after the first glide of the blade; What would my mom think when she saw me? With a chunk of hair already down the drain and no way to turn back, my only option was to think of answers to hypothetical questions. At twelve years old, this was the only way to erase the evidence of my heritage.

When the boys at school made fun of my body hair, it was about more than just feeling undesired or masculine; they provoked negative thoughts on my culture, the one I associated with thick, uncontrollable hair, strong accents, and overall excessiveness . These toxic ideas were emphasized by my dad, who preached daily about the absurdness of Mexican patriotism and protesting, claiming that some immigrants (himself included), had no right to demand certain civil liberties as this was not their country. With non-traditional parents and a negative bias against my culture, I gradually conformed to American standards of beauty and behavior. I stopped speaking Spanish, causing my tongue to feel heavier and unable to roll r’s for years. I regularly straightened my naturally thick and wavy hair, ultimately losing most of its shape. And I shaved my arms, which not only contributed to my internalized oppression, but also worsened my overall self-esteem. Had it not been for the powerful women in my life, I would have never understood the importance of my individual complexities.

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My mom was a force of nature, and my two older sisters were so beautiful that I felt beautiful being around them, inspired by their strength and wanting to emulate it. After seeing how the women in my community, especially my sisters, were forced into maturity as the men were caressed well into adulthood, I grew frustrated and refused to succumb to the pervasive machismo or sexism of the Latinx culture. Additionally, I loved Latinas with their unique and empowering perspectives on life. Wanting to fit into a community I had deprived myself of during my childhood, I poured my heart and soul into every single opportunity of exposure. I did everything from confidently ordering tacos in Spanish, to wearing hoops earrings popularized by Latina women, the very ones I used to be ashamed of. Figures like Sonia Sotomayor motivated me to pursue my then desired career, while the term Latinx, targeted at queer Latinos, finally made me feel accepted in my community. Self-acceptance does not come easily, and it was ultimately this transition that created my passion for individualism.

As a queer, feminist Latina, I am the opposite of traditional. However, I grew to embrace the fact that I am also a walking stereotype: a “feisty” Latina with a short-temper. It is this juxtaposition that develops my individual character, one that personalizes every project I am involved with, making it and myself more compassionate towards unique backgrounds. Young people of color are especially deprived of resources specific to their needs and often hear backlash for not conforming. As an advocate for individualism, it is my personal goal to help establish resources for people in environments like mine, feeling as though they cannot flourish. It is important for people to share their stories and ultimately shape the community around them. This could be done on a personal level, by educating others and voting on issues that impact them directly, or on a larger scale, by writing articles and other forms of media to reach a wider audience. When someone feels safe enough to accept who they are, the world becomes a better and more interesting place.

Congratulations Amy!

AmyG

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