Like my first name, my surname is very uncommon to find. The surname ‘Andujo’ originated from Chihuahua, Mexico and the majority of the history of the name is unknown. My father would tell me that the name belonged to two brothers, who then separated to different places to have families of their own and live different lives. Thus, every Andujo is related to one another and can be traced back to those two brothers, as the story goes.
I have a fondness for my last name due to its rarity, though it can be a bit annoying to have it pronounced incorrectly for most of my life. After awhile, you accept that people will never pronounce your name right the first time. It is just a name afterall. However, I used to be proud of the fact that my name was not only unique but for its mexican roots. It enforced what I am, Mexican-American. I never questioned my strange glorifying behavior for the mexican culture, putting more emphasis on a country that I never was born in, the one I only visited every summer, something I wasn’t a part of in totality. I have always called myself Mexican-American and was proud of it for a very long time, and yet I feel like a hypocrite for doing so.
My mother was born in Mexico and immigrated to America for a better life and to be able to support her family back home. My father, on the other hand, was born in America but he had grandparents born in Mexico. My father was American, and my mother was not. Due to this, my mindset then immediately declared that I was half Mexican and half American, like a mixed dog breed. I refused to be simply American, I wanted to be Mexican because that’s what I was, what I identified as. Except that it wasn’t. Like my surname, it means nothing whether I’m Mexican or not or whether my name is mexican or not, because truly, I only ever cared for it whenever something mexican related occurred in my life. From watching George Lopez to the high school assemblies of people singing in spanish, I only used it as some accessory, like I was a special half breed and proud to relate to people like “me”.
During a family gathering years ago, my relatives told me I was Mexican, one hundred percent. It made me feel happy, but my father told me something afterwards that I couldn’t forget, it was subtle yet I understand it now. He told me I wasn’t, that I was American. Of course I pushed it aside, it was only his opinion. Yet, he wasn’t wrong. I may have my roots but I was raised in a country that allowed me to develop to the person I am. Being American doesn’t mean an exclusion of cultures, religions, races. It does not mean being mexican first and then american, it means what people wanted: opportunity, liberty, individuality, and the pursuit of happiness when other nations could not award. You could have lived in Mexico for twenty years but still be regarded as American if you wanted to enter the United States and be a productive citizen with you’re own “American Dream”. It is an inclusive label that allows myself to practice the culture from mexico, or any nation, and yet I can still be American and be happy about it. I’m proud to be American, it is how I want to identify and want to be regarded as because it is a label that does not separate who I am or who I was or my roots.
A person may be black, white, jewish, christian, homosexual, heterosexual, from Ireland or Mexico, as long as you are a pursuer to be great and follow the nation’s law, you are just as American as a person who was or was not born in this country.