On Coming Home

By Vanessa Quintero

Home is a weird concept when you’re not too sure what it means anymore. After living in Boston all of my freshman year and creating a brand new familia, going home to my old one felt strange. Most of my first 18 years of my life in Miami were spent denying my latin@ heritage (probably in an effort to be contrarian, since everyone here is latin@). Everyone would tell me that I would miss the way everyone assumed you spoke Spanish, cafecito, the way people were able to tell what country you were from in a second, and, of course, medianoches. Despite being told all this, I didn’t believe it. Months into my move to Boston, during one coooold February day, I found myself in desperate need of rope vieja con arroz to no avail. It was strange that the only other Cubans were from Miami and that some of the gringo friends I’d made would say things to me such as “but you’re WHITE” whenever I would make a comment on white people or oppression as a whole. I had never considered that not looking like the latin@s in popular TV and not speaking with a strong accent constituted me as white, but what do I know? I was asked if I “spoke Mexican” and if my parents came on a raft. It was times like that when I realized that, despite Miami being a cultural void in some senses, I was lucky as hell to grow up there. I was able to avoid the racism and ignorance that many latin@s across the USA have had to deal with all their lives. I was able to soak in the culture of dozens of different latin american countries and know the difference between them. While being in Boston has been the best and most enriching experience of my life thus far, it has definitely taught me that we still have a way to go before us latin@s are free of the ignorance and thoughtlessness of those around us. I’ve decided to make a photo diary of my times spent back home in Miami to appreciate the couple of months I have here before returning back to New England.

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