Moving into an unknown environment isn’t the easiest decision to make especially when there isn’t anyone to give a push to be on our feet. This struggle is mostly seen within the Immigrant community who freshly join the United States for permanent residence. Those would often feel the pull in choosing sides of Individualism vs. Community; since it is not easy carrying both cultures, especially while living in fear of being deported. Culture is a huge piece when it comes to letting anyone find their own identity, culture could also change over time which allows people to feel colonize. When another person looks and judges one’s identity, they use what they see in front of them, however, the truth is that it comes from one’s own feelings on the inside.
When it comes to finding the identity of a person, one becomes aware that everywhere one goes, people are always different. Authors and editors Beatriz Cortez and Douglas Carranza of the book, Introduction to Central American Studies, write about Central America and the war to gain its independence from Spain in chapter one, "Central American Identities." It also includes how Spain breaks its deal with other countries that help during the war. Lastly, they both also discuss the different types of people living in Central America and everything that forms a person, since every individual is unique in their own way. Ultimately, this chapter helps readers understand the struggle of transnational identity in the Central American diaspora. For some families, their transnationalism and identity has to change because families keep their culture from their motherland while assimilating to life in the United States .
Immigrants who are recent permanent residents in the United States are often choosing sides of individualism versus community. This is because it is not easy carrying both cultures, especially while living in fear of being deported. In "Central American Identities," Cortez and Carranza explain that culture is part of a person’s life, a daily use, meaning culture is what forms one’s personality. It states, “It includes culinary practices, dress code, social relationships and ways of organizing, as well as expressions more formally associated with Cultural productions such as music, art, literature, film, architecture, and sculpture among others,” (Carranza and Cortez 1). This quote is important because back in 1821, before Central America gained their independence from Spain, people in this region were not allowed to practice their own indigenous identities. Under forceful rule, indgenous people had to make a difficult choice in assimilation under the threat of death if they did not comply to Spanish expectations. After the war, when Central America gained its independence, the different countries established different religions, cultures, and identity. This new identity was a constant negotiation in the many years since.
Moving to the experience of identity today, there is anxiety surrounding the realization of being colonized. Sharing this identity experience with others who have similar background stories can help ease the stress of feeling unsure about one's place in a country or communities. People of indigenous decent are subject to the weight of identity and colonization more than even "mestizos." The chapter makes clear that this discrimation against indigenous identity unfolds from the years of racism in place by the Spaniards (Carranza and Cortez 4). As the chapter states, "Central American culture is not uniform. All the different groups people that inhabit the region show significant variability in terms of social organization, religion, and culture" (1). Part of the reason the cultures are not uniform is because indigenous people have continued the practice of their religions, cultural foods, holidays, languages, and community organizing.
When another person looks and judges another’s identity, they use what they see in front of them, which can be the environment, religion, and even their skin color. However, these are not the case. Central American identity is varied and cannot be pinned to any specific feature or custom. Identity comes from one’s own feelings on the inside. Identity and culture is important to everyone because it helps people behave in certain ways and encourages us to make the best decisions possible. Personally, my aunt grew up in Granada Hills and went to Granada Hills Charter High School around 1992. They both became used to the thought that Hispanic culture cannot be seen at school and would do anything to make themselves seem the most "American" as possible. They do not see anything wrong with it; however, for my grandparents, it becomes an issue because like their daughters, my cousins follow in steps as their parents and continue to see their own culture as embarrassing. There is still a lot of unlearning necessary in our communities to decolonize identity and culture.
Carranza, Douglas, and Beatriz Cortez. "Central American Identities." Introduction to Central American Studies, Kendall Hunt, 2008, pp. 1-4.