Natalie Borrego

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Natalie Borrego was born and raised in Miami, Fla. where a prominent Cuban immigrant community is well established as part of a larger Latin American community there. Borrego was raised identifying as Cuban-American and/or Hispanic. She explains the usage of the term Hispanic, which is commonly used by fellow Cubans in her hometown. The terms Latino and Hispanic (a term created by the U.S. Federal Government, used in censuses) are the two identity labels that Borrego explores. She discusses the meanings of these two terms, elaborating on her personal usage of them and the ways in which she prefers to identify herself. Borrego goes into some detail about how she fits into a larger Latina/o community while explaining the need to maintain her unique Cuban identity, especially when at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill amongst her minority friends. She also touches on issues of inter-communal association and word connotation between different groups of Latin American nationals. Borrego explains that Latinos would do well to unite under a common identity so as to further empower themselves in the minority struggle that they face in the United States.



Joël Hage: My name is Joël Hage. It is the afternoon of Monday April 22nd, 2013. It's 3:55pm and I'm sitting upstairs in the 2nd floor of the Campus Y with Natalie Borrego. Natalie would you mind going ahead and introducing yourself a little bit?
Natalie Borrego: Yes, I'm Natalie Borrego. I'm a student here at the University of North Carolina studying Political Science and Global Studies with a minor in Chinese. I'm from Miami, Florida, but both of my parents are from Cuba, so I consider myself Cuban-American.
JH: All right. Thank you for joining me today, Natalie. Let's start off -- the first question that I'd like to ask you is when people ask you where you're from, what do you normally say?
NB: So, unlike a lot of people, I actually think that is an awesome question because -- and I know I'm not directly answering your question but I just want to give a little bit of background on the question. A lot of people feel offended by the question, but I think it's such a great question because it's an opportunity for people to learn about you. And if they think that you're from somewhere else, it's a perfect opportunity for me to break that stereotype and for me to tell them, "I'm from here, not from somewhere else." And I think that's one of the beautiful things about people, is, we all come from different places and we're all here in this country even though we come from so many different backgrounds and we may look completely different. So, I absolutely love that question. I love asking it and I love when people ask it to me, but I know it's very different, especially in the minority culture on campus -- most people are offended by that question and they think that when they get asked that it's sort of a target towards then, and I see it as people just trying to learn. And there shouldn't be a reason to be offended by that question. So when I get asked that question, I start of and say I'm from Miami and then I say I'm Cuban-American or I say I'm Hispanic. A lot of times it sort of depends who you're talking to. So for instance, when I was in China, I can't necessarily say I'm Hispanic because people don't understand that term. So it depends, sort of, my crowd, if they're going to understand what Cuban means, what Hispanic means, what being from Miami means. So I look at the context of who I'm talking to, but in the end I sort of end up answering the idea that I'm from Miami, I'm Cuban, and I end up talking a lot about it because I absolutely love talking about my background. That's why I've been nicknamed "Miami" or "Cuban" by a lot of people on campus.
JH: Great! That was nice. So, how do you identify here, I guess in North Carolina, compared to -- have you ever been to Cuba first of all?
NB: No I have not. I'm not allowed to go, by my parents.
JH: Okay, so, how do you compare - there's a completely different dynamic between here and Miami, obviously, with all the Cubans and the Latino/Hispanic community in [Miami]. How do you identify here as opposed to there? Is there a difference?
NB: Yea. So there's definitely a difference. Coming here was kind of a cultural shock, but I was excited for it and that's why I wanted to come here, because I knew that Miami was such a different place. I think Miami is sort of a different country within the United States. It's very very different in terms of composition of people. But I think that's why I love it so much. So coming here -- it's more, you identify as a minority or of Hispanic/Latino descent, versus I'm Cuban. In Miami it's kind of like, well everyone's Hispanic. I'm Cuban. And that's what differentiates you. Here, when you say you're Cuban there's only about a handful of others on campus so you sort of identify more with that minority or Hispanic community on campus. And one of the interesting parts about identifying as a minority here is that somehow it ends up grouping you with the blacks on campus, which to me is very interesting because the dynamic in Miami between Hispanics and black is very different than here. In North Carolina they're sort of best friends and in Miami you see the conflict with Hispanics versus blacks. Whereas here that's not the case at all. So, to me, that's always been very interesting getting here and knowing that that was not the case.
JH: So, do you think that being here on campus -- you said you kind of identify with the minority of Cubans, in a way? Whereas in Miami you don't have to necessarily identify as Hispanic because everybody's Hispanic and you're just Cuban. Is there a difference in that? Like, do you feel like you're a minority -- do you really feel like you're a minority here, like you're kind of left out of a Hispanic -- or like you're marginalized out of a Hispanic population here as opposed to in Miami? Is that kind of what you're getting at?
NB: Yeah. Yeah. And when I referred to minority, I think of not necessarily the minority of Cubans, but just the minority community, which usually on campus tends to be the Hispanics, especially those from Central America tend to sort of identify with the term "minority" more. And the blacks on campus -- those are usually the ones who are constantly involved in the minority community on campus. And I'm basing this sort of off of my work with cultural organizations and the Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, which I also find very weird because they say the "minority community" -- and usually the only minority groups talked about are Hispanics and blacks. And it's usually only blacks, which I find a huge discrepancy. How can we be having a Diversity & Multicultural Affairs and talking about the minority community when there's Asian minorities, there's people all over that are minorities and we end up only talking about blacks and, sort of, the issues that they face when there are so many more issues. So I think it's really interesting -- so I here I sort of identify with the minority community, sort of that larger community. And then in Miami I consider myself Cuban. So it is two different things, and here I mean -- it's not that I don't consider myself more, but when I introduce myself I usually -- people can understand and I can relate to more people by saying I'm Hispanic versus I'm Cuban because there just aren't as many of us.
JH: Okay. Yeah. That makes sense. All right, so, you're using the term Hispanic a lot. What does Hispanic mean to you? As well as the term Latino if you want to go ahead and address that?
NB: So, I had never really thought about the difference -- well I had been, sort of -- we had talked about it at home but I had never really realized the difference of the terms until I got here. So I got here, and -- I've always used the term Hispanic. I was raised to use the term Hispanic since I was in kindergarten. We always celebrated Hispanic Heritage month. It was no big deal. I got to campus and was working for the Carolina Latina/o Collaborative and realized that we had never had a Hispanic Heritage month celebration on campus. So I got involved with that my first-year and to me that was just amazing to see that the university didn't recognize such a -- to me -- big celebration and a big part of our country since there are so many Hispanics on campus. And then -- so starting off hearing that, sort of, Hispanic Heritage, and then everyone else here ends up using the term Latina/o. And I say Latina/o in terms of -- to be gender inclusive because it's a term that is not. So it's very difficult, but that sort of stems back to the Spanish language itself that there's a lot of, you know, making it feminine/masculine. So I think that has to do with more of the Spanish language. So, it was really weird to me because here people didn't like the term Hispanic. They felt offended by it. In Miami, it's the complete opposite. People feel offended by the term Latina/o; yet, we come from the same place. But the question is do we or do we not? And that's, sort of, one of the issues with the Hispanic culture is we come from so many places but we're being grouped into this one thing and what is it that really unites us besides the language of Spanish? And even though it's all Spanish -- maybe the dialects aren't as different, but there are, sort of, the different terminologies used within, you know, a Mexican person speaking Spanish versus a Cuban person speaking Spanish. It's very different. Not that you can't understand each other, but it's very different. So going back to that term Hispanic, if you actually look, like, where it comes from, Hispanic, you have the 'Spain' in there. So that's why a lot of people don't use it. A lot of my Mexican friends don't like to use it, especially people in Central America who have come from indigenous backgrounds because they said, "The Spanish were very harsh to us. Why would we want to be proud of something where they came and took over our land and we're related to the Spanish when we don't want to." And then you look at the opposite side of it, of somewhere where I come from, from Cuba, and we're proud to say that we're part of Spain. And sort of, that relationship with Spain. So I think that's why we use that term Hispanic. And you go -- when I grew up, or like, talking at home, I had a conversation with my dad one day about the term Latino and the difference between it and Hispanic. And he spoke about, like, how that term, he used to hear it a lot on the news and it was a term that came about with a lot of the Mexicans coming into California. So, the people were seen as non-educated. They people were not seen as an asset to the society, so unfortunately they were seen as very negative. But they weren't obviously looking at the situation that these people were facing, and the reason they were uneducated. You know, it's not because they didn’t want to, it's just they didn't have those opportunities or understand or have that education to understand why they should be educated. They were just looking at means of survival. Also, you kind of can't compare that with the idea that people in Miami didn't want to be associated with that. They want to be associated with education. They want to be a part of the greater society. They want to be successful. And it goes back to why people from different countries come here for different reasons. Some people come here for political reasons; some people come here for education. So, when you look at the terms and you see how a term was associated, maybe with non-educated people, there's a reason people didn't want to use that term. And then the term of, like, well Spain comes from that.
Another interesting thing -- so there's obviously a lot of, sort of, conversation going on grouping us into the Hispanic grouping, the Latino grouping when we fill out a census, you know, under race and ethnicity. What does it mean? Why should we have to put that? And, I, last summer, I was in a program called the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and one of, sort of, the lectures we were a part of was from the director of the Pew Hispanic Center and they do a lot of research on the term Hispanic versus Latino, and one thing I thought that was really interesting that I had never known was where the term came from. So a lot of people always blame it on the government, but it turns out that the term was created in order to help us be a part of the rest of society.
JH: The term Hispanic?
NB: Yeah. By people of Hispanic descent because there were certain social benefits and welfare benefits that we could not get because we did not fit, like, a certain classification.
JH: Oh, okay.
NB: So, we wanted to be classified and we wanted to -- sorry, I was tapping on the table -- and we wanted to be, make sure they knew who we were. So we fought for that, for that term, yet now, a couple decades later -- I think it might have been like the sixties or seventies, but do not quote me on it. It might have been the eighties; I'm really not sure. But now we're going back and saying well you're using the wrong term. So, sort of, in their documents, I asked the director, "Well, do you go by the term Hispanic or Latino?" And they use them interchangeably. And that's, sort of, how the government uses them too - interchangeably. So it's difficult to see, well where was -- what is actually the history of the term. So --
JH: Well, can I ask you a question?
NB: Yeah.
JH: So, I understand what you mean in that it was -- it started -- the movement started from the people asking for a, kind of, a label for themselves to be identified, to be recognized. But the term, the actual term Hispanic was created, I think right -- wasn't it created by President Nixon?
NB: I think it was during that time.
JH: And, so I guess -- I think that's when people say that. He created the term, but I guess I had never heard that it was asked for, I guess, by the people.
NB: Yeah. And I mean, that's what I heard -- I'm sure, I mean, the person I heard it from has done research on this. I'm sure he's right. I don't remember all the details about it. The thing is too; things change as time goes on so obviously then those terms are used in negative connotations. They're not used for what the people necessarily asked to use them for, or other people are put into that grouping that shouldn't be part of that grouping. So that's where, I think, a lot of the negativity comes, but people say it's the government's fault. And I don't think that's always entirely true because, to some extent, would there have been this term Hispanic if, you know -- I mean, we ourselves say we're Hispanic sometimes. We might not like saying it on the census, but we'll say we're Hispanic and we'll be a part of the Carolina Hispanic Association but then we go back and say, "I don't like classifying myself as Hispanic on a census." So, it's hard to see, well, to what line -- I think you can't always complain. You have to look at both ends and I'm not saying that the government isn't classifying us, or isn't doing wrong things, but I think you need to take a step back and look at where did it come from. And I don't know entirely, but I thought that was an interesting story and something that, sort of, stayed with me when I heard that conversation.
JH: So you said that, before coming here, you had never used the term Latino because -- Latina/o -- because you always used the term Hispanic back in Miami, but can you elaborate more on why that was always used, and never Latino?
NB: People in Miami just don't use the word Latino, unless you're like outside of somewhere else, you just don't hear it, so it's sort of everyday nature to use the word Hispanic. And here, then, I use that word and -- with people who -- tends to be more Central American people, and they feel weirded out when I use the term Hispanic. So, based on who I'm talking to, sometimes you have to sort of alter your language, which is not good, but I think it helps you relate and make community with people when you use a different term. So, it's not that I'm not proud of a certain term, or I don't feel comfortable, I just think I can relate more to certain people if I use a different term, and especially when I do a lot of, sort of, recruitment events on campus I want to make sure that people feel comfortable in a place like this. So it's important for me to use terms, and, that they feel comfortable with and they can relate to versus using something just to be proud for it.
JH: Yeah. All right. Can you, just to recap; can you try to define the words Latina/o and Hispanic for me?
NB: Yeah. So I think that's -- just going back to it, it's very difficult to define. I think everyone just has their own definition of it. And people, unfortunately, within their own community are offended by either term and I think people need to move forward from that and not be offended by it and go back and look at what it is.
[Interview was briefly interrupted when someone walked into the room.]
NB: So as I was talking about, I think it's really really difficult to sort of define it because you can look at the definition by the government, but that's not what people go by. People go by what they've heard on the news, how they felt, sort of, sometimes the racism that has gone with -- or the, I guess general ideas that have gone with some of those terms. I think people need to move forward from that, especially the people within our own community of "Hispanic or Latino/a origin" because if we within ourselves cannot understand those terms and come to terms with them, how do we expect others to, sort of, appreciate -- like, accept us for who we are and see us as a group if we ourselves cannot see ourselves as a group? So we have, sort of, these movements like you need to accept us as Hispanics, as Latinos, but if you don't accept me as someone who considers themselves Hispanic, then how -- and we're part of the same community -- then how can you expect someone else to do that? And I think that's some of the difficulty of some of, maybe, the movements on immigration that we face and why we haven't been successful is because us as people cannot come together. We cannot come together as a Latino community, and I think it's really really difficult because we are so different. We don't look the same. We talk the same, and that's it. But even our traditions, our culture, our food, everything is so different so it's hard for us to come together.
Does it make sense for us to be termed as Latino? And I think that's where a lot of the conversation is starting, and going back and defining it. I think the only thing I can see is that we have -- we speak Spanish. And that's pretty much -- and then there's the question of, is Brazil considered Hispanic or Latina/o since they're Portuguese? Is Spain? And most people from Spain don't, but you have -- so there is another discrepancy and I think the people who use the term Latina/o more are going to be the Central American people, some South Americans, but mostly Central American which is sort of the population you see in North Carolina. And then the people from the Caribbean and more South America, so you have your Colombians, your Venezuelans, your Peruvians, those people are -- not Peruvians, not as much South America -- especially Caribbean, those people are going to use Hispanic more. And that's sort of the population you see residing in Miami. So, I've seen it very interesting how I've, sort of, seen from Miami different composition completely of Hispanic versus here in North Carolina, and then how that relates to the term Hispanic/Latino.
JH: So you're saying that in the end, Hispanic and Latino are the same? It's just people's preference? Although the origins of the words may be different, in reality they're referring -- there's not really a difference in the meaning between the two terms?
NB: I think there's a difference in the meaning if you think that there's a difference in the meaning. What's actually defined by -- it's what you want to go by. When I say Latino, some people have a different definition than I do and I think people just don't understand. And there is no definition for it. I don't think -- and the definition by the government is probably not the best one and I do not remember it, but I know I've read it before and they use Hispanic and Latino interchangeably. So, what's the definition? It's a hard question because right now, I just think it's peoples' perception versus what's actually on paper. I don't think what's on paper is going to change it to perception.
JH: Yeah. And what you were getting at before was just very much the notion of, there's power in numbers. And how, I guess -- is that right? If there's this huge minority in the U.S., how do they expect to get anywhere if they can't all unite and move together? Is that what you're --?
NB: Yeah. And I think that's where some people try to use the term Latino to their advantage to try and unite together in terms of, maybe, immigrant movements or things like that. But then when they talk about themselves they're going to relate to their country. They're going to say, I'm Mexican. They're not going to say, I'm Hispanic. They're going to say, I'm Mexican, I'm Guatemalan, I'm Cuban.
And even, another very interesting thing -- when, like, people talk about themselves -- I grew up, and I'm glad I grew up this way, sort of appreciating the American culture and the opportunity that I am here. So when I tell people where I'm from, even though in North Carolina I don't say it as much because I get very judged if I say it, especially to Hispanics, fellow Hispanics on campus, I usually like to say I'm Cuban-American versus Cuban, because -- I say Cuban first because that's, sort of, my -- that's where I'm very proud of and I'm connected to, but I always have to connect to American because if it weren't for America I would not be here. I would not have the opportunities, and I prize that every day. But I know that there's a lot of other people, especially Central Americans that do not like to associate with America and they're very harsh on the American system, and to me that's very difficult because, yeah, you're facing difficulties, but if you were in your own country would you be facing more? So at least you're -- and I'm not saying that that's okay, but you also have to appreciate and give back to the system before you criticize it.
JH: So, do you associate the terms Hispanic or Latino/a with the United States at all? You've been talking a lot about people from all parts of Central and South America, but do these terms -- are they kind of restricted to people born, raised, associated with the United States at all?
NB: I do think it's a term that is used a lot more in the U.S. and would be -- I would say yes to that, based on my experience in China. I remember at one point I said I was Hispanic and I got a very weird look from someone and they didn't really understand what that term meant. It might have also been because I was in a very little, rural village where they didn't know much or have much education, so it must have been that. But when I spoke about how I was Cuban, they understood what that meant. Even though when I was in China I related more to American because people understood that more versus Cuban. But when I ended up having deeper conversations with people, it was, "You're from Cuba." And also, people prize America a lot, although they would prize Cuba a lot too, so that's just kind of weird. But, I was actually there with America because of the program and the nature of it.
JH: Did you tell them you were Hispanic in Chinese?
NB: No, I don't know if there's a term for that actually.
JH: So you said it in English?
NB: Yeah. Yeah. Well no. Or I would say, like, "I'm American" in Chinese. I know how to say, like, Cuban. I think -- I think actually the term in Spanish is, you say, "I'm Spanish" versus "I'm Hispanic."
JH: Oh. In Chinese, you mean?
NB: In Chinese, I think you're Spanish. I'm pretty sure but I might be wrong on that, so don't quote me.
[Both laugh]
JH: I won't.
NB: [Laughs] Just saying. I don't like giving false information.
JH: So, and you've touched on this a little bit as well, but I would like for you to go into depth a little bit more. What do you have in common with someone from Central America and people from South America as well?
NB: I think -- so I think South America is very different from Central America. And it depends on country. I think a lot of the differences -- sort of, the indigenous -- the countries that have these indigenous populations and, sort of, what are their minority groups? So if you look at Cuba, where I'm from, the minority groups surprisingly are black and Chinese. Those are the main minority groups and we don't really have that Indian, indigenous population. Whereas if you look at Mexico, Central America, South America, for instance Peru, you'll see that more. But Venezuela you don't really see that. So I think a lot of Argentinians and Venezuelans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, are very similar to Cubans because of that -- where you come from. So -- in terms of looks. And the way you use the term -- Hispanic, Latino. When you look at Central America and Cuba, I think -- or like, the Caribbean -- I think you would say Spanish. The food is nothing similar. I guess the culture of familial atmosphere, that is very similar. I think that's one other thing that brings the Hispanic culture together. But even when you look at something, like in the Cuban culture, that is -- such a big thing about Cuban culture is the music. And that's similar in other countries in Central America but it's not the same kind of music. So even those big traditions -- the big traditions in Cuba are not the same traditions.
Religion sometimes is similar. You have a lot of people tend to be Catholic, but I don't think that's something that necessarily unites us as a whole -- I don't think we see each other as Latinos because we're all Catholics. I think we might see each other we're Latinos because we speak Spanish and we have familial atmosphere and similar culture. When you look at the food, very different unless you're looking at Puerto Rican and -- so like Caribbean food is very similar. Central American food is more similar.
JH: Regionally.
NB: Regionally. So I think it's difficult to see the similarities when I don't think there are too many even when you look at, like, some of the clothing, like, it's different. It's different traditions, or biggest traditions -- I mean you have, like, Mexico; one of their biggest traditions is Los Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Deads. And I had never heard of that. We don't celebrate that in Cuba. Very different. Cuisine is very different. I mean, similarities I would say once again the Spanish, the language, and the familial atmosphere I think would probably be the biggest similarities I could see. And even when you talk about -- so, like, not necessarily culture, but just the ideas of the society today are very different. At least based -- I've never been to these countries so I don't know. So I'm talking about -- this is my experience and my knowledge based on the people I've met of that descent in America. Which is also a different perception than, I'm sure, if I were to go there. Especially, like, so if I talk about Cuba right now, the Cuban people I'm talking about are very different than Cubans in Cuba now. They have a totally different mind set than the people who came in sixties and seventies. So I think the Cubans who are coming now relate more to Central Americans in terms of struggles and challenges, versus the Cubans who came in the sixties and seventies. Very different generation and ideas. So you have, even, differences between ideas on education. And that, to me, when we talk about the minority struggle on campus it's not the same.
JH: Have you met people in your experience that prefer not to use the terms Latina/o and Hispanic?
NB: Definitely. On campus there's a lot of people.
JH: Both? They refuse both of those terms, or one, are you saying?
NB: Yeah, they don't -- I think actually I've met a lot of people -- so a lot of the people who come from places like New York and Miami that have seen -- so I think New York and Miami are really interesting cases. First of all, they have interesting group of -- different group of population in each of those places in comparison to North Carolina, but New York still has different -- a lot more Salvadorians than Miami would. Miami doesn't have any Salvadorians. But I think in New York and Miami, they've seen Hispanics be successful. They've seen Hispanics come arise, be the CEO of a company. The people in North Carolina, as Hispanics, don't see that. So when they come here and Hispanics talk about how we're struggling and we can't make it there, we can't be the CEO of a company, a person from Miami doesn’t understand that and is like, "You're crazy and if that's what you think, I'm not going to relate to that term because that's not true and I don't need to see myself as inferior to you because of a certain term." So a lot of those people are not involved in the minority community on campus and that, to me, is one of the reasons that got me involved in the minority community because I'm like, how can you have this perception. I understand it's true, but if you keep having this perception, all you're going to do is make it happen. Like if you think you're not going to be successful because of your background, then it's going to happen. But if you say, no, walk into a room and have a lot more confidence, I think you have a higher likelihood of getting somewhere. And I think, to me, that's sort of why I've been a part of it. When I talk to people and have these conversations with people, I'm like, I challenge them, I'm like, "Yeah, that's true but it doesn't mean it's impossible and it does not mean that it has not happened, because look at cities that have been very successful in our country, and there's a lot of Hispanics with them. So don't always generalize and say that things are always bad, when there are good outcomes."
JH: Would you say that most -- would you say that most Cubans in Miami, or even, I guess, the entire Hispanic community in Miami -- do you feel like there is a willingness within them to be part of a greater Latino/Hispanic community across the U.S.? Or do they want to be more -- dissociate themselves more?
NB: I think that's a good -- that's a very good question. And you're hitting at the truth. I think there's a lot of conflict between both groups and I don't like that. And I think that's one of the things I've faced here, coming here, is people know that conflict and there is that conflict of the Hispanics who are educated and who come from, I guess, wealthier, but not really wealthier -- it's more educated -- background versus those who don't. And they come here for different reasons. And it's -- they want to be -- and then that's where you see the grouping of Hispanic and then the grouping of Latino. So, yeah. I think that's sort of -- it's hard. I do think that's true. I don't agree with that, but I do think there is some validity behind that because I have experienced that there are some groups of people in Miami who don't want to be a part of that greater community because they know if they are, that they're not going to succeed as much. So they sort of drift themselves away from that term to be a part of the rest of the group.
JH: Who's the rest of the group?
NB: The greater, I guess, American population.
JH: Okay. Yeah.
NB: And I don't mean as white, I just say as like successful Americans. So I do think that's true and I do think there's a lot of people, if you look at like, California -- I've had conversations here where people are like, "Well you don't understand our struggles. You're from Miami. You're the wealthy Cuban." So on the other end, they don't want us to be associated with them either. So I think it's on both ends that people have that conflict and don't understand it. And, I mean, I definitely saw -- we had, this summer, we did a -- with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute -- they brought 40 Hispanics that pretty much resembled the national population broken down in population. So if there was four percent [coughs] -- if there was four percent of Cubans, there was like two Cubans in the group. And if there was, like, I don't know what the percentage of Mexicans, but there was more Mexicans. So you saw that conflict everyday with certain topics. So on Fridays we would have all these discussions on, like, Latino and the heritage, and you saw the discrepancy -- like, totally different. You could tell that there was, sort of, these different ideas about a lot of different things and you could feel sort of that tension. But it was interesting because the program helped us move forward from that and put us in this Hispanic group. And the funny thing is it's called the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, but everyone who was a part of it uses the term Latino. So I don't know if that's because it's a government thing or what, but it's not really a government thing, it's more of a non-profit. So, it's just weird, but when you see a more official -- so you see the official Hispanic Heritage month -- these official things are Hispanic, but then the people within them use the word Latino, so. I don't even understand, myself. I'm like can we just move on and just be happy and who cares and say we're all going to be successful; it doesn't matter. And move on from the actual term.
JH: Wow. All right. Shifting focus a little bit. How do you feel your identity, or the way in which you identify yourself, has changed throughout your life, if it's even changed at all?
NB: So I think there was, sort of, that big shift when I moved from Miami to here. And I think that's sort of my biggest change. In Miami, yeah, I knew I was a minority in the greater part but we'd never really talked about it. It wasn't really a big deal where you came from. I mean, my school was 95 percent Hispanic. Might have been more, probably 99 percent, which to me didn't make any difference. And it -- to me it felt like it was a melting pot of cultures because no one was from the same country because there was people from Colombia, people from Venezuela, people from so many different countries that, I think, yeah you might say this is more diverse because there's more blacks, Hispanics, and Asians, but it's not necessarily -- it's more diverse because I think in a school like mine there was probably more representation from different countries. So...
JH: So, I guess, the biggest change, turning point maybe, in your life was coming to UNC. Did you feel like there were any changes after having done the internship that you did, perhaps as well too?
NB. Yeah. I don't think there were too many changes; it just sort of made me more aware of that conversation going on. And I don't think it made me change because I'm so involved with the minority community on campus and I'm always having and partaking in these kinds of conversations, and what does it mean. And I do think an interesting point is the idea that I never had that conversation until I got here. And it makes me question, why do we have to have that question of what does it mean to be Latina/o? Do I have to have someone tell me what that means? Why? I know what my culture's about and that's what it is. What difference does it make? Why do we have to sit around at a round table and have a discussion on what it means to be Hispanic? It's your perception and that's what it is and that's the great thing about it. It's not -- I don't need that to be molded by anyone's, sort of, discussion on it. So I think getting here just made me more aware and it made me more aware of those things that I had heard about at home in terms of the different perceptions among different Hispanic "communities" and how there was a lot of bias toward Cubans sometimes, and people didn't feel comfortable with the Cuban population because they felt sometimes as if they're part of that white community, which I understand where they're coming from but I don't think that's always the case. And I think every sort of minority group faces their own challenges. And every group in general is going to face challenges. It's just, sort of, inevitable.
JH: Yeah. So, I guess the last question that I'd like to touch on is, are there times when you feel like you're put in a situation where you have to really explain your identity to someone, as opposed to just saying you're "one word" due to the fact that they're not going to understand what that means, the intricacies of your identity?
NB: I think that definitely happens. And I'm going to say something maybe you may not expect, but I think I have to explain myself more in the minority community than to the rest of the people. So, I hang out a lot with black people. And they accept me as one of them but it wasn't that -- it wasn't like that when I got there. It wasn't like that when I joined certain organizations on campus that had to do with minority groups because I didn't look like them. So I was very -- I did feel that, sort of, felt that marginalized, but -- and I felt different than the rest of the people. But I knew that that was a problem because that's not true. And that's sort of why I stayed a part of it, is because I'm like, I need to challenge these people and I know there's other people like me and they don't feel comfortable and welcome here. And if I'm not a part of this I'm just -- it's just going to continue a cycle. So I think when I'm a part of these groups I have to explain myself more on why I am a part of these minority groups on campus versus when I'm talking to a white person, it's, "Oh, cool you're Cuban. You're Hispanic." Oh, and they understand, okay, you're part of this larger picture. But if I'm in this minority group, they're like, "Well you don't look like us. You're not 'brown,' you're not black. So you don't face that struggle." So, to me, that's very bothersome when they say, "Oh, this is a movement of the brown people." And I'm like, well that's f you're saying I'm Hispanic, I'm Latino, this is a Latino movement -- that is not true, because I'm not brown. And you're complaining about how they look at your skin color, well you're looking at my skin color and you are doing the same thing that other people do. So before you criticize them, go back and look at what you're saying yourself because you're doing the same exact thing. So, to me, I think if people were just -- stop being offended by everything everyone says and just be proud of who they are and realize that everyone is from a different place and has, sort of, their individuality, it would just make things a lot easier for other people because people who are offended by things that they tell them but they don't realize that they're offending other people. So I guess that would be, sort of, my summation about this.
JH: Cool. Well, Natalie, is there anything else that you would like to say as we wrap up?
NB: No. I think I'm good. I think I talked enough.
JH: All right. Well, I appreciate your willingness to do this interview and thanks.
NB: Yup.