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The Dreaded Question: "Where are You From?"

As some of you may know, I was born and raised in the United States, in Houston, Texas to be exact. My parents were born and raised in El Salvador. Every generation in my family before mine was born and raised in Central America (I know nothing beyond my great-grandparents). Now, I live in Florida, and I have lived here for 3 years. So, where am I from?


When I was little and had no memory and/or knowledge of El Salvador, my response to this was automatic: "I'm from Houston, Texas." My family would often correct me and tell me that I was from El Salvador. However, that response never felt right to me. After all, at the time, I knew nothing about El Salvador, I hadn't been born there, and I had no memory of ever being there.


As I got older, I began to realize that the most comfortable response to the question for me was: "I am from Houston, Texas and my parents are from El Salvador." Still, I knew that wasn't what some people wanted to hear.


Eventually, I began to adapt my answer to context clues that the person asking gave me.


In college it became easier; people were typically interested in the city where I had lived prior to going to college. No one ever asked for clarification regarding my origins.


Now, it's not that easy. Yes, people are usually only concerned with the state I lived in before moving to Florida, but, for some reason, a select number of people have wanted to know more.


For instance, back when I was a Lyft driver, a drunken older woman got in my car and asked me where I was from. Immediately, I answered: "Houston, Texas." That response didn't satisfy her though. She wanted to know where I was "really" from. That struck me. It was the first time I felt a negative connotation behind the question.


I am from Houston, Texas, and I am Salvadoran. When I was younger and didn't speak English I felt like an outsider in Houston, Texas. I am proud of my Salvadoran background, but, when I'm there, I'm viewed as an American, an outsider.


My life began in Houston, Texas. The genes that passed down to me came from El Salvador.


Should I say I'm from both? I guess that's the beauty of being a Salvadoran American.


Thanks for stopping by! Leave a comment and tell me if you also dread the question, and what answer you go for. Place of birth or ethnic background? Subscribe for more and share to make me happy. Additionally, let me know if there's anything you'd like me to write about.

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