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GABRIELA MOLINA: ‘I was all of a sudden, the most “exotic” in the room’

PANAMANIAN-BORN Gabriela Molina, 22, is a full-time international Columbia College Chicago student pursuing a bachelors in Acting. “I identify myself as a Latina woman,” and defines her as a mixed-race individual.

What do you think of the term Latinx to identify people of Latin American or Spanish background?

First, Latinx does not mean Spanish people. Because Spanish people were born in Spain, so it is nothing related to Latin America. I feel like the term Latinx is a great term to identify people of Latin American background. It is a term that really covers all of the different identities around Latin America.

Do you feel like Latinx is just an excuse for corporations to lump all Latino cultures together? 

Corporations have been profiting of our culture for as long as I can remember. I feel like we took that term and made it ours, because we are all Latinx at the end of the day, but corporations do not like to do the correct work and investigate. They just want to make money.

“Latinx is a great term to identify people of Latin American background.”

Has your experience as a Latinx person isolated you to the way you grew up, or have you been able to branch out culturally?

it’s a 50/50 situation. Since I was raised in Panama, I truly did not see any difference while I was growing up. We were all the same except for the color of our skin, gender, sexuality, and all of that. But some of our experiences are the same. Meanwhile, when I arrived here, a huge culture shock happened. I was all of a sudden, the most “exotic” in the room, I was singled out and I have to prove myself every day, which gets tiring.

How have these labels changed from your country of birth and now living in the U.S?

It’s my identity so it never changes or [has] changed. 

How do you navigate U.S. culture?

By connecting with other folks of different cultures.

Do you speak Spanish? How do you view Spanish as an attribute of your identity? How important it is?

Yes! Spanish is my first language. I’m an international student obviously, but it’s the one [trait] I love so much. It makes it all better, [I’m] not gonna lie. Being bilingual is a blessing lowkey.

Would you say your culture is “better” than someone else’s who is of a different ethnicity or country?

Oh no. Each person has their own culture and they are great in their own glory.

Does cultural appropriation bother you? 

Yes. Ohhh, yes. It is not that hard to not appropriate, You can honor the culture. Respect it. Do not appropriate [from others.]

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