2019 - Ongoing
Mexico; Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
This photo series is an examination of my social identity and feelings of belonging through the perspective of my own children. Having grown up in a mixed race / multicultural family, I explore what it is like being part of a culture from the outside perspective. The feeling of being attached and familiar but never quite fitting in or being fully accepted. This series of images was taken during my children’s first trip to Mexico, documenting and highlighting their first hand experiences with my childhood memories. As second generation Mexican descendants, they are also half in-half out. It gave me an opportunity to explore my own identity through their experiences.
I have a memory of a form I had to fill out as a teenager, requiring me to fill out my racial background. Amongst the options that applied to me were ‘White, Non-Hispanic. Hispanic Non-White.’ This was a big deal to me. Is it ok to check both? How can I be ‘White Non-Hispanic’ and ‘Hispanic Non-White’ at the same time? Why does one have to exclude the other? Why does this simple question feel like a conflict?
While I hope those forms have been updated to take into account the plentitude of multi-racial, multicultural families like mine, at the time, it represented my feelings towards my identity. Confused yet proud and somehow a little defiant.
Growing up, I was always floating between two worlds: the world I mostly grew up in - my father’s predominantly white Canada - and the world that I was raised to be a part of - my mother’s colourful Mexico. Everything about our life was a mishmash of the two worlds. Language, food, friends and traditions were all heavily influenced by my mom. Somehow, being away from Mexico made her even more Mexican. She was part of a Latin folkloric dance group, owned a Latin music store and eventually opened her own Latin dance studio. It was a big part of our childhood. But all of that happened against the backdrop of living in Alberta, Canada where none of our other friends spoke other languages, ate other food or celebrated other traditions. It solidified a sense of ‘otherness’ that set us apart.
On both sides of the family, we were exotic. Embraced and accepted but never quite understood. Growing up this way made me see everything two ways; made me understand them from two perspectives; made me experience them in two contexts; and made me attached to two different places and ways of life. Sometimes all at the same time. Sometimes conflicting with one another. This is a project of self-exploration experiencing my own memories through the eyes of my children to learn more about myself.