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Janet Ramirez- Race X Identity

February 3, 2020

Since I was little, I have been constantly reminded by my parents to always be proud of my Latina roots. They made it their mission to make Spanish my first language; up until now, it [has] been the only language spoken at home. Traveling annually to Mexico since a very young age has also helped keep me close to my roots, contributing to my pride in being Latina. Visiting Mexico meant celebrating traditions, practicing the language, and immersing myself in the wonderful culture alongside friends and family. 

Today I can happily say that I’m extremely grateful to have grown up Latina, to call Spanish my first language, to travel to Mexico, to immerse myself in my culture and build so many more connections because of it. 

Coming to Drake, a primarily white school, changed things for me. Upon my arrival at high school, I noticed that I was no longer friends with students of color. The kids who I had grown up with had gone to Tam High School instead, only because it happened to be the feeder high school of Bolinas district. 

Until freshman year, I hadn’t thought of my race as something that made me very different. It was my first time noticing just how white Marin actually is, which was an immense shift in perspective for me. I went from forming part of the same 15 student class in the tiny town of Bolinas to joining a school of 1,076 students within the new town of San Anselmo. 

This made the very beginning of freshman year feel almost empty; farther away from my roots and the people I had grown up with, I aimlessly walked the halls surrounded by a sense of unfamiliarity on my first day, intimidated by the fact that I didn’t know the campus or the people. I felt out of place- this was a community much different than what I had been accustomed to. 

I gradually adapted to my new environment, as I thought back to the fact that I was still me, and I was still accepted here. I reminded myself of what my parents had always encouraged me to do; embrace the fact that I come from a different background, and not have that intimidate me. Ever since, I’ve felt much more comfortable being here and being able to represent the seemingly smaller percentage of students of color here. 

By simply putting more effort into stepping out of the bubble I had lived in all along, while taking pride in my identity/background, I began to meet new people. Today, I can honestly say I’ve been very happy to be granted the opportunity to form a part of the welcoming community that is Drake.

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