What Is Your ID?

Photo Credit: Marisa Mendoza


According to the Census Bureau, the Latino community boasts a population over 50 million  or in other words 1 in every 6 American in the U.S. is of Spanish origin. However, as the population grows and becomes more accustomed to various influences, it begins to impact how we identify and define ourselves within the community. Is it enough to just be Latina, Hispanic or Chicana anymore? What does it really mean to be Latina anyway?

My Journey to Self–Identification

As a native New Yorker, I walked in a sea of diversity everyday. It was second nature for me to associate flags, accents, and language to their respective countries. I personally identified as Dominican and Puerto Rican or Dominiriqueña or Dominirican (or whatever combination my friends and I came up with that day). I never really had to confront my heritage or ethnicity because everyone was used to everyone. That all changed when I moved across the country to attend college.

I moved to Los Angeles in 2004 to start my Freshman year at LMU. I felt homesick and lonely being practically the only Dominiriqueña from New York on campus. I yearned for someone who could understand me, my accent, my craving for tostones, concon, and queso frito without having to explain. On and off campus I was constantly questioned, defined, and boxed into an identity that wasn’t me at all. One day, I reached a point where I was so sick and tired, I retaliated by introducing myself like, “Hi, I’m Ariana from New York and I’m Dominican and Puerto Rican. Anything else you want to know?” That shut them up pretty fast. I began to obsess about making sure everyone just who I was; I blasted merengue in my car, I bought D.R & P.R. flags and put them in my car on the walls in my dorm,my laptop and on my notebooks. Six years later, I’m used to the questions, the looks of surprise when I (try) to speak Spanish, I took down most of my flags and I don’t introduce myself like that anymore. Within that time, beaten down by the ignorance, I tried multiple ID’s on for size, Caribbean Latina, just Latina, just Dominican, just Puerto Rican and now Black Latina. I chose Black Latina for various reasons but before I do that, I want to define it in my own words.

My Conclusions

I learned while filling out the Census last year that Latino and Hispanic are not a race but an ethnicity. ‘Hmmm, Okay,’ I thought,  so now I had to figure out what I considered myself racially. Now, I can get really technical based on Spanish Caribbean history and mark either European Spanish, Native Taíno, African/Black and  technically, I am a mixture of all three! However,  I chose Black Latina (sometimes I say Afro-Latina too) to pay homage to my African ancestors (I want to be very clear that Black is a color and not a race and it is not limited to African Americans). Being a liberal studies major, I became super sensitive to the plight of the oppressed and so I chose to side with them. Black Latina was also was the best description for my experiences. I always hung around and dated Black people (Not just African Americans but also West Indians who would consider themselves black but also identify their ethnicity with their country of origin). Sometimes I felt I was too Black for the Spanish people and too Spanish for the Black people, but I learned to adapt by just being Ariana and not my cultural or racial identity.

I’ve come to learn that identity is a part of you are not your whole. It, combined with other categories such as class, sexual orientation, educated, gender, religion, all encompass who you are as an individual. So what does being Latina really mean? Is it defined by behaviors and stereotypes? Can it even be defined by the community? Is it everything and nothing at all? I say it’s whatever you want it to be. What is your ID? 

P.S.- If you are interested in learning more about the Black Latina experience, check out the Black Latina Movement Blog and their official website Black Latina  Movement.

For the People Who Have Everything

As you all know, Christmas weekend is here. Lots of you are busy with last minute shopping, parties, traveling, etc. However, in the business of your day, take time to read this and ponder what it is we really need this holiday season.


busy schedule?

Photo Credit: Flik


“For the People Who Have Everything”

John Killinger
Christmas Spoke Here
Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1989, p. 88


It is a commentary on our situation in life that the biggest problem most of us has with our Christmas shopping, aside from finding time to do it, is that most of the people we shop for already have everything they need. This year I’m fresh out of ideas.

We can imagine the scene in a fairly average household on Christmas morning. When all the expensively wrapped gifts have been opened and the room looks like an explosion in a paper-goods factory…

It is rather obvious that a typical American family has everything. They have helped keep the economy on an upward spiral, gratifying both the local merchants and the administration in Washington, and they have cluttered their household with many more things that are destined for the school auction or the garage sale when they move or find that their home is simply too overladen for living. They could not possibly want for anything they don’t have.

Are they people who have everything or people who needeverything? What do they really need this Christmas?

They need simplicity, time for sorting out their lives, time for being together, time for getting to know one another, and time for sharing themselves at the deepest levels of human communication.

They need holy time, a sense of life’s deeper dimensions, of eternal mysteries breaking in upon finite existence, of the God of righteousness whose being conveys meaning to all of life’s actions and relationships, and the blessing of a world that wants to bless us if we’ll only let it.

They need space for seeing life as it is, for seeing the millions of people in the world who are starving to death and the millions who are dying of simple diseases, for realizing how shallow life is when it is lived merely for the pleasure of the moment without any regard to the future or its consequences, for standing back and looking at their own lives, so that, like Scrooge when the ghosts of Christmas Past and Christmas Present and Christmas Future whisked him away, they will have a chance to mend their ways, to become wholesome, to become worthy, and to become children of God.

They need the Christ of Christmas and renewal of their inner spirits. That is what it all comes down to, isn’t it? They need to hear and receive the message of Christmas, that God has entered the human arena to dwell with us, that His presence is consequently here and available to us now, that we are not alone, spinning out our destinies…, and that all our days are spent before the Holy One of Israel who poured all that He was and is and will be through the funnel of a miracle into the child born in the manger of Bethlehem. They need to surrender their lives to Christ, who is the real Gift of Christmas, and in the end He so overshadows all others as to be the only one.

In a sense, I am talking about all of us.

That is the way it ought to be for us at Christmas. Most of us have been lost in the busyness of our existence, trying to cope from day to day, and have quite forgotten who we are or whose we are.…And then we, who thought we had everything, realize we have nothing, and, realizing we have nothing, stand ready to receive everything. For He is our joy and peace.

In all the frenzy and noise of the season, O God, help us to find our way home; and, having found it, let us never lose it. Through Christ, who was born to show us the way. Amen.


-Excerpt brought to you by Appleseeds.org

Holiday: 5 DIY Christmas Gift Ideas


Photo Credit: Stuart Catie

Christmas is 12 days away! With your busy schedule, you might not have the time or budget to splurge on gifts for all your friends and family. Show them, this year, that “it’s the thought that counts,’ with a little time, a few bucks, and imagination, your loved ones will feel special with their own customized gift.

1. Write a personal letter– Get some nice stationery paper at a store like  Staples or Target. Spend time thinking how much they mean to you, inspire you, or the impact they have on your life. Once you write it down, frame it and wrap it.There is no greater gift than letting someone know how much you love them.

2) Make a photo collage– If you are not a wordsy girl, use your creative eye to make a picture collage of your best memories with that person. This is a great gift for siblings, cousins, and friends;  Especially if you live far away from home.

3) Book of Coupons– As a busy college student, it can be hard to find to time to get together with friends and family. Make up for it by gifting them your time or talent, for example, your friends might like ” A Cup of Coffee and Chisme” or for your Beaux, ” A Movie Night” theme of his favorite movies. Get creative! Your friends and family will have fun redeeming their coupons.

4) Travel Kit– With airline prices going up, your loved one may not be able to travel to all the cities and countries they’d like. Pick a place they dream of visiting and create their own personal travel guide. Fill it with information about clubs, bars, landmarks, restaurants and local culture that they would love to visit. If the city is abroad, include some basic language phrases they will need to know. They will appreciate the personal touch.

5) Sweet Treats– Who doesn’t love sweets? Is your sister a chocolate fiend? Does your boyfriend love peanut butter? Bake a dish to satisfy their sweet tooth. Visit Joy of Baking, a website that features various dessert recipes and creative ways to gift them. When baked with love, the gift will be all the more  sweeter.


Need more ideas? Check out this website for 100 DIY Gift Ideas. Do you have any DIY gift suggestions? Share them below.

10 Tips for a Guilt-Free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner

Photo Credit: Erin Kohlenberg


Thanksgiving is 3 days away!!! Who isn’t looking forward to a mini-vacation dedicated to spending time with family and stuffing our face? Yet, for those us watching our weight, this could be a sticky dilemma. Do we throw caution to the wind and splurge? Or eat a sucky dinner consisting of a garden salad and a small helping of turkey? Neither! The key word in a relationship is compromise.  You can still eat all the yummy food and still have a guilt free holiday.  Here are some tips courtesy of WebMd on how to do just that:

1) Get Active– Connie Diekman, MEd, RD, former president of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) advises to, “‘Eat less and exercise more’ is the winning formula to prevent weight gain during the holidays. Increase your steps or lengthen your fitness routine the weeks ahead and especially the day of the feast.”

2) Eat Breakfast- “Eating a nutritious meal with protein and fiber before you arrive takes the edge off your appetite and allows you to be more discriminating in your food and beverage choices,” says Diekman.

3) Police Your Portions– “Don’t waste your calories on foods that you can have all year long,” suggests Diekman. “Fill your plate with small portions of holiday favorites that only come around once a year so you can enjoy desirable, traditional foods.”

4) Slowly Savor- Eating slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and tasting each mouthful is one of the easiest ways to enjoy your meal and feel satisfied with one plate full of food, experts say.

5) Go Easy on the Alcohol (21+ only :)- Don’t forget those alcohol calories that can add up quickly.”Have a glass of wine or a wine spritzer and between alcoholic drinks, (or) enjoy sparkling water,” says Diekman. “this way you stay hydrated, limit alcohol calories, and stay sober.”

Want more tips? Read the full story here.