Authentic Guacamole

tacos and guacamole on a table

In 2007, I moved from a predominantly Hispanic community to a 95 percent white state. There were a few friends who warned me about how the transition would be difficult. They said I was going to encounter some challenges finding a job because as soon as hiring managers read my name, they’d throw my resume away.

In spite of the warnings, I moved anyway. I landed a job within 3 months of relocating and I began my career in marketing at a retail manufacturing company. People in my new state were extraordinarily nice. There was an immediate sense of community everywhere I went which was unexpected. Perfect strangers smiled and waved at me on the street. I felt right at home. There was a weird moment when I went to a trivia night at a popular bar and suddenly realized I was the only Hispanic person in the room. That had never happened to me before. I wasn’t scared and I didn’t feel threatened. It was just an awkward realization that my community looked different than the one I had just left. I was still happy I made the decision to move though.

Months past and I began to form a small group of friends. Eventually, I started to get invited to people’s homes for dinner or potluck events. Then, I noticed a few odd things.

I was often asked to make guacamole. At first, it didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary. People loved my guacamole. But one day someone made the comment, “I think it’s so cool that we get to eat authentic guacamole.” That’s when I realized that maybe… just maybe… I was asked to prepare this dish because I was ‘Mexican.’ I shrugged it off.

Then, one day at work, a coworker came up to me and said,
“Hey Maritza, Can I ask you something?”
“Sure.”
“My husband and I are going to Cabo for vacation. When is National Taco Day?”

At first, I thought… Is she asking me this because she thinks I’m Mexican or is it because I lived in Texas and it’s close to Mexico so she thinks I would know? I decided to go with the latter.

“There’s no such thing as National Taco Day in Mexico.”
“Yes, there is. My girlfriend told me when she went, there was a restaurant celebrating the holiday with $.50 tacos.”
“Hate to break it to you, but that restaurant probably serves $.50 tacos everyday to bring in the tourists. National Taco Day does not exist.”
“Yes it does!”
“No. It doesn’t.”

She stormed off and I honestly can’t remember her ever speaking to me again.

The last straw for me came when my cubicle buddy was listening to Michael Franti and she said she was so happy that racism was over in America.

I think I spit out my coffee and laughed. I thought she was joking. When I looked at her face, I realized she was absolutely, 150 percent serious. The poor, innocent child thought racism was long gone. She thought we were living in one of Michael Franti’s songs, all dancing together in harmony, cherishing each other regardless of skin color. Sweet thing.

It broke my heart to tell her that racism was alive and well in the south. She didn’t believe me. Nothing I said could convince her. When someone comes from a community that is 95 percent white and they are also white, it’s hard to understand racial differences and the circumstances that befall people who are not part of the majority.

Which brings me to my ultimate point…

In my experience, most ‘racism’ and ‘prejudice’ comes from ignorance. Ideas that are outside of one’s bubble or understanding of the world can be tricky to navigate. The people who asked me to make guacamole or asked the date of a taco holiday were simply ignorant. I don’t think they had hate in their heart or prejudice on the mind. They just saw me with brown skin and assumed that I was the resident expert on all matters Latino. They didn’t even think twice about how that made me feel or if I might be offended by their questions. Likewise, the people who warned me about moving to a very white state were also coming from a place of ignorance. They were shocked when I told them how quickly I was able to find a job and how soon I was able to make friends.

Simple ignorance like this can sometimes turn into major prejudices similar to what we have seen in recent days. Especially if it keeps getting fed propaganda (Thanks, media!). Fear… lives at the center of each situation. ‘The Other’ is scary. It’s an unknown. I suspect it triggers our mammalian brain into action and engages our fight or flight response almost immediately. I am certainly guilty of this behavior myself.

How do we ‘cure’ it?

I’ve heard it said that our country, because it is so large and is made up of so many different communities of people, is more than just one big nation. It’s actually more like five nations all pushed together to form one country.

So, how do we learn about these regional communities and differences?

TRAVEL. Face ‘the other’ and get into the thick of it. See for yourself. Leave the city where you were born and raised. Find out if NYC really is full of assholes (spoiler alert, it’s not). Discover if people really do ride horses into work in Texas (spoiler alert, they don’t). Once people see ‘the other’ for themselves, it’s hard to keep being afraid of the unknown. Suddenly… you may find you have more in common with ‘the other’ than you realized. And that is a heart-warming feeling.

To Be or Not To Be… a Feminist

Jatziry Guzman Berzunza wearing a white hat To be or not to be... a feminist

Written by: Jatziry Guzman Berzunza

I grew up in México in a small town, I came to the US at 24 years old.

Some people, when they hear my story, want to know, “Why did you come to the US? For the most part it is has kind and curious people that ask.

I feel that my story is similar but not as harsh and sad as many of the other stories you hear from immigrants who have come here.

The dream of opportunity, the dream of being safe, the dream of not being harassed on the streets. The dream of a good paying job, the dream of a partner that is not abusive, manipulative, a better life!

Time has gone by, twenty years to be exact, I am now a citizen. I have been able to go back to México to visit my family, my Mom was able to come and work and stay, and my daughter came and after high school went back to Oaxaca.

 A few years ago, my fiance Bob and I were discussing the issue of feminism and he asked me if I considered myself a feminist?

I answered, It depends, If I am in México, I am a feminist, If I am here (USA) I am not.

I had to think about it, and this is my conclusion.

Every time when I go back to México I feel, sad, overwhelmed, angry, and unfortunately not surprised of the chauvinistic way society works there. At the beginning of my trips I would argue, confront, get angry at every situation that would come my way. Vacation time was not relaxing.

Then I would come back home and my guard would come down. I would watch TV news and see women screaming, being angry, frustrated, arguing, fighting for respect and equality and I would think “What are they talking about?” “Why are they so angry?”, especially compared to Mexico.

Fast forward to the “MeToo” Movement and I suddenly realized how much harassment is happening here as well. I saw those angry women and frustrated women, many expressing the same sentiment I feel when I go back home.

What I understand now, however is also what type of victim I still am (Because I am still learning) of that chauvinistic society that I thought I left when I came here.

Many of the things that women here in the U.S take for granted, I didn’t even dream of. Being independent, having of a career, getting a college degree, those things never crossed my mind. 

Life in the US has taken me in a beautiful journey that until recently through a series of epiphany’s, I didn’t realize I have been experiencing.

I did not go to college because still today I do not feel I have the skills to do s (This is what I am still working on, my beliefs and confidence)

However, I lived on my own for a while here and in México, I went to Cosmetology school and became an Instructor.  I guess I may have what it takes for a journey to a College Degree. I am evolving.

(On a side note about the Cosmotology and Beauty Industry… I recognize now that in an industry that “caters” so much to women, to be successful in it you, have to be a man. For Another Blog)

I have come to realize now that women here in the U.S. are as angry and frustrated at the inequalities in our society as what I see going back home. I may not have seen it here because here, like in my and many other countries, Women are also held down and kept quiet. They are trying to get out or survive an abusive relationship, have strong opinions, grow careers and face many similar challenges. I feel that here in the U.S, even with the “metoo” it would be risky and perhaps devastating for our careers to report harassments and abuses.

In other countries it can even be devastating for your life.

I am now taking on a professional career as part owner of a Manufacturing Rep Firm with my fiancé. This experience has made me realize the money side of unequal pay and treatment to women. There have been cases where people dealing with me want to lower or delay payments delay answers and I am surprised at how treatment changes when my partner gets involved.

But more than anything again it is the realization of how a Caucasian male gets treated in business, opportunities, pay and overall treatment vs. a Hispanic woman from a third world country.

What I am also realizing is how education changes your mind, how sheltered my mind had been and how little by little the opportunities of education and experiences  have changed my fears. It is time to exercise my “exigir”, or “how I want things to be”.

I am suddenly starting FIND MY VOICE!

 I want equality

I want to change the way I think.

I want to decide.

I want to help.

I am thankful for the women in my life that answer my questions with kindness.

 I am thankful for the men that treat me with respect and cheer for me to get a promotion , better pay and opportunities.

I am thankful for the situations and people that challenge my beliefs and thoughts. 

I am thankful for the impassioned women on documentaries, teaching me lessons about how a strong willed woman (who has a victim of chauvinistic behavior’s or actions) believes, thinks and acts.

I am finally am happy to announce …

Yes…. I AM A FEMINIST!

Follow Jatziry Guzman Berzunza

Website: Jat Yoga

Let’s Get Loud

shakira and jlo superbowl half-time show 2020 shakira jlo superbowl halftime let's get loud first generation Latinas American Latin women heritage

Like many first-generation Latinas, I struggle with knowing where I sit in terms of my culture. I’m an American by birth and a Latina by nature. It’s easier for me to say I’m an American than try to explain where on the spectrum my heritage sits. Is it enough to say that I’m a sensual, colorful, hot and spicy mix of all the delicious and naughty things people secretly love about Latin women? Because that’s the best way I can describe myself.

As a beautiful soul said to me yesterday, the Super Bowl half time show was every Latin woman’s dream come true. Two strong and culturally proud Latin women on the biggest stage in the world reveling in all that they are from head to toe. No apology, no explanation. That in itself is why it was such an inspiring performance.

“Why is she grabbing her crotch so much?” “Oh my god, she’s a stripper now?” “Did Shakira just wiggle her tongue at the camera?” “You can totally see her entire vag with that outfit.”

Haters.

While the rest of America’s women take selfies in public bathrooms to show off their assets, these two women put it out in public for all to see with some amazing physicality and energy. And that is the magic of being a Latina. It’s in our soul to drip with sexy enthusiasm, to have hypnotizing hips, to have sets of lips that don’t need fillers because they’re ready to deliver the best kiss you’ve ever had. We are the fetish cowboys wrote songs about. And we’re not sorry.

I can sit in a board room filled with men and hold my own over forecasting reports and the company P&L. I can be a Suzie Homemaker and take care of a large family with amazing, from the heart food and incredible nurturing. I can be my husband’s most incredible fantasy behind closed doors. Latin women are all of these things.

Today, I can say I am so proud to be a Latin woman. I don’t say that often. Probably not often enough.

In 2020, I will celebrate who I am more and not allow the Puritanical perspective I saw creep and crawl through people’s comments on Sunday invade my pride.

I am Latina and I am proud.