When we think about our identity there are always different layers to it. For myself, my racial and ethnic identity is central to me - and it’s central to me because that’s where I’ve struggled the most. In every other aspect - gender, class, sexual orientation, ability, language and even citizenship. - I walk this world with privilege. In a lot of ways, I’m one identity away from having every privilege in the book.
In episode 12 of Tea With Teachers, my guest Damian Mendieta doesn’t get to look at the world that way. In fact, his and his family's identity was used during last year’s election in the most vile and exploitative way I ever witnessed by a politician. His parents are undocumented, he is brown-skinned and he grew up in poverty. That’s a lot to overcome. But there’s more to Damian and his family than that.
He and his family challenge assumptions of what it means to grow up in a typical patriarchal structure of a Latino family. His older sister provided him the encouragement and hope by being a role model to him by going to college first. His parents sacrificed their lives to give him and his siblings a better life. He posits that there’s value in growing up in a tiny apartment with extended family around him. He is honest about colorism within the Latino community, especially toward people who have indigenous roots. He comes clean about poverty as it relates to mental health which some consider to be taboo within the Latino community.
Damian provides a fresh, forthright perspective of a first year educator at DC Bilingual, the charter school where he works as a teaching resident.