The idea of limpieza de sangre or being “pure blooded” is, simply put, outdated.
In New Mexico, especially so in the northern part of the state, people subscribe heavily to their Spanish heritage, some even denounce any possibility that they could be part Native American.
Limpieza de sangre dates back to early colonialism and was initially used as a way to create a social hierarchy, placing Natives at the bottom.
Personally, I had the realization early on that I was not of “pure blood” and the reality is most nuevomexicanos aren’t either. Many who choose to identify solely with their Spanish heritage are a mix of Spanish, Indigenous and probably small amounts of other cultures as well.
My ancestry results further confirmed my heritage — 34% Native American and 24% Spanish. I challenged myself to learn more about Indigenous culture to connect more with the part of me that is Native American and Native Mexican.
For the sake of clarity, I do not, nor would I even condone identifying solely as Native American when personal life experiences do not back up your identity. I do not identify as Native American, because my lived experience does not reflect what First Peoples have experienced. I do not face the same discrimination, nor the same identity struggles. But, I wanted to recognize the indigenous history, and learn about my heritage and I think others should do the same.
The Transformar program through El Centro de la Raza helped me to achieve this goal. This past June, I took a two-week long adventure through central Mexico that gave me clarity about my heritage.
We visited indigenous archaeological sites and pueblos in several states in Central Mexico. Through this experience, I didn’t feel like a tourist, but someone exploring and experiencing a small piece of Mexican culture.
Traveling through Mexico allowed me to explore a side of myself I hadn’t connected with before and that was valuable in my personal growth identity-wise. If more people could try to explore sides of themselves, maybe there would be less hate in the world. Hate dissolves with understanding histories and stories.
Humans have to understand that peoples are not that different, especially in New Mexico where many families have been here for generations. We literally carry a lot of the same DNA, we are written from the same pen. Chicanos, Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, New Mexicans — we are more alike than we are different.
While I was in Mexico, our group leader Jorge Garcia made a statement that resonated with me.
“We need to stop the animosity between Mexicans and Chicanos. We all come from the same people. All that stands between us is language, but that also stands between the people of Chihuahua and Mexico City -- they don’t speak the same Spanish. So, what is really separating us?”
Makayla Grijalva is the managing editor for the Daily Lobo. All opinions expressed in this column are hers and do not reflect the Daily Lobo's editorial position. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @MakaylaEliboria.