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  • Writer's pictureMonica Murillo Parra

Are you a Hyphen?

When I think of Anazaldua’s idea of borderlands, the awareness of being neither ‘here nor there’ I consider an immigrant experience. A one point five generation immigrant experience might include feeling too much yet not enough for the various communities you belong to. This means feeling like you’re neither from here nor from there. For example, being too Colombian, listening to too much salsa or vallenato, speaking with an accent, eating too much arepa. But also loving 50 cent and Beyonce or ‘American’ meals like pizza and cheeseburgers. The hyphenated experience is a complicated one. Hyphenated identities suggest the idea of internal conflict, cherry picking, and people pleasing yet never quite being enough. This potential for constant stress and chronic feelings not belonging respectively can loosely connect to tension and consequently higher levels of mental health symptoms because you’re not feeling welcomed or safe. There is a complicated relation to feeling a sense of belonging from all communities because the hyphenated experience is too much and not enough simultaneously. This creates an interesting clash of reflecting on a larger social role and an individual role in challenging this stress. What are small and large changes for marginalized communities, to reduce or diminish the impact of these stressors connected to identity, marginalization, and social expectations?

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