By Dulce Ruelas
I am so proud to say que soy Mexicana. In the beginning, it was difficult to introduce myself as Dulce Maria Ruelas Murillo when I was asked my name. Names are our identity. I was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States at the age of four. I lived in the shadows of a new identity, new food, new drinks, and a new country. My world changed and morphed daily. It was almost as if I lost a part of who I was. As I continued a new path, it felt as if I was stripping away my past. It wasn’t until I became a U.S. citizen that I had inner peace.
My passion for health developed during my early childhood when I witnessed health disparities and communication struggles. Discrimination occurred because of the language barrier, and a healthy lifestyle was inaccessible. Translating and interpreting for my mother for many years gave me an inner strength along with the courage to excel in school. These experiences fueled my motivation to help others advocate for themselves.
Part of who I am and who I have become is a result of how I was raised; with love and esteem for our culture and customs. My identity revolves around respect for learning, unlearning, and relearning my heritage as I continue to live in this new country. I now serve as a role-model for my children. It is essential that I instill the connection of being Latinx in them. No more darkness, no more double lives. Instead, I focus on stories and celebrations.
Ask me now, to introduce myself, I say it proud, I sit up straight or even clear my throat. I am honored to say my name. It is part of where I am from, and who I have become. No more dropping or cropping or tokenizing it. ¿Y tu como te llamas?