Growing up Hispanic in a mostly White community
Growing up, running wasn’t part of my culture, but it was part of my DNA. I was born in Austin, Texas, and spent much of my formative years around my extended family in Texas and Florida. Both of my parents are fully Hispanic and my entire family, with the exception of my brothers and I, speak fluent Spanish.
But the community my family lived in was primarily populated by Caucasian families, so most of my classmates and neighborhood friends were White. I joined the swim team in kindergarten and took ballet. Whenever we spent time with family, we drove south, closer to the Mexican border, to smaller towns that had larger Hispanic and Latino populations.
I didn’t think anything of the social or cultural differences between my extended family and the families of my school friends until my parents moved us to Northern Virginia, a place that was more culturally diverse, with large populations of Asian and South Asian communities, but where we knew essentially no other Hispanic families.
Then, my parents stopped speaking in Spanish at home because we were no longer an active part of a Hispanic community; I didn’t get a “Quinceañera,” which is a religious and social celebration for a girl turning 15. Instead, I tried playing soccer and lacrosse and kept swimming.
Participating in sports as I grew older was an oddity amongst the girls in my extended family-- as fate would have it, many of my cousins grew up, started having families of their own before or immediately after finishing high school, joining the workforce while maybe taking college classes at night. The opportunities to participate in sport dwindled in their new lives.