Aiyana Reyes

I am proud, I am not in touch

Aiyana responds:

What are some challenges that you feel students of color might face at CSUF?

I think one of the biggest things that someone of color can face is being able to find a group of people or organization that subscribes to who they are and where they fit, especially for people who may already struggle with their racial identities. I think may people find it important to find a group of others that share a commonality of interests whether it be through their upbringing, or their hobbies, or even their future goals. I think that as a person of color, it can be difficult to find those types of people with a campus of what? 30-40 thousand? Especially if you’re a commuter, or if you’re not really an involved student. But you know aside from this, there are so many race incidents that happen on and off campus that majority of people don’t know that happen. With every passing incident of a hate crime or someone experiencing racial slurs or something along those line, campus feels less safe for some, which is the most important thing. 

 If you were to complete the statement “I am not” how would you complete this statement and what is important to you for others to know. 

I am not in touch with my racial or ethnic identities. I could never properly explain this because to me growing up it was never really something I tried to define, but by no fault of my own or my family’s. I’ve always been defined and do define myself as white washed given how I grew up. I never learned Spanish, never took part in any traditions, never learned of my Spanish lineage outside of my great grandmother and her children. Hardly went to Mexico to see family. I’m also Native American and I haven’t explored what type of lineage I have there. In my prime years of middle to later childhood I grew up in a predominantly white city and I went to a school where there were mostly white kids. And while they definitely made attempts to embrace the kids who were racially and ethnically different than the rest, it never felt safe to venture out what it means to be Hispanic or have Mexican heritage. I’ve been too scared to be rejected from kids that look like me because I’m white washed so I felt I kind of had to immerse myself in the typical American culture. Which there’s nothing wrong with that, but in a sense I’ve lost the motivation to define my ethnic identity. I’m kind of in a state of ambiguity. 

If you were to complete the statement “I am” how would you complete this statement and what is important for others to know about you?

I am proud of who I am despite feeling like I am missing a part of my identity. If you asked me to define myself I would not include a racial or ethnic identity, but rather I would say I am a hard working woman who is putting herself through college, while working full time, and living on her own, all while trying to build some sort of future for herself. 

In your work as Undergraduate Course Assistants, as you’ve reviewed the students work what things you learned from either the research, the narratives or the illustrations? What are you inspired to do as a result?

I’ve learned that despite the racial incidents and hate crimes I’ve seen on campus, there are so many more people that are against these types of ideologies and rather they are more embracing of others’ differences. It’s inspiring to see groups of people who can showcase their love for others.