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Amanda Hernandez

Immigrant Archive Project
Amanda Hernandez, a 16-year old high school student, is the daughter of an American mother and a Latino father. During our on-camera conversation, Amanda discusses the advantages of being bilingual and bicultural and expresses concern over the way Latinos are portrayed in the media.
Show transcript
00:00
Most people, if you listen to their music, you can tell a lot
00:02
about a person.
00:03
But with me it's actually who I am.
00:05
My dad's Hispanic, my mom's American.
00:08
So I'm like a mix of both.
00:10
It's, it's amazing.
00:11
I get so much more out of music and out of everything else in
00:15
life.
00:22
My name is Amanda Hernandez.
00:23
I am 16 years old and I was born in New Jersey.
00:28
Is what you asked for.
00:29
You born New Jersey?
00:30
Yeah.
00:31
How long did you live in New Jersey?
00:33
I lived in New Jersey until I was about 3, 3.5 years old.
00:37
And then, and then I, me and my family, we moved to Miami and
00:42
I mean, most of my memories are here but I still went for New
00:45
Jersey a little bit.
00:47
Your parents from New Jersey?
00:48
My mom is, my mom's from New Jersey.
00:50
My dad was born in Cuba.
00:51
Moved when he was five.
00:55
Mhm.
00:56
Mhm.
00:57
Do you have any memories of New Jersey?
00:59
Yeah, I do.
00:59
I can walk through the house that we lived in and I, for the most
01:02
part I remember it.
01:03
I remember my school, some of my friends, I remember some summers
01:08
there but I can't really distinguish between the summers
01:11
that when we actually lived there and when we just visited
01:14
and, yeah, I remember school and simple stuff.
01:18
You remember your grandparents homes in New Jersey?
01:21
Yeah.
01:21
Very, very well.
01:23
I remember, well, my grandparents from my dad's side house
01:26
is the same that they live in now.
01:27
And I remember my grandparents, other house, my other grandparents
01:31
my mom's parents house, it was this big white house and it
01:35
had like 15 bedrooms and that's how I remember it.
01:38
And there were toys everywhere and always people there.
01:41
And yeah, you have a Cuban set of grandparents and an American
01:50
set of grandparents.
01:52
What was life like for you as a little girl in your Cuban grandparents
01:56
house?
01:57
Well, it was always very loving, it was a very loving atmosphere
02:01
with all of my family but different like with my, which is what
02:06
I call my grandparents.
02:07
Um It just, I was their first granddaughter.
02:11
So it was just like I was, I could do whatever I want.
02:13
Like I remember one day it was snowing and I was home and mommy
02:17
my mom went to go get like her nails done or something and she
02:20
left me with my window and I had a cold and she was like, don't
02:23
let her outside, she's gonna get more sick.
02:25
My mom comes home and I'm doing snow angels on the, on the front
02:28
lawn and she's like, what?
02:31
And he's like, hi, Marla.
02:34
She wanted to so badly.
02:35
And I was like, oh, ok.
02:40
Do you communicate with your grandparents in Spanish or in
02:43
English?
02:43
Spanglish?
02:44
I remember I taught, I teach them English, they teach me Spanish
02:47
Like, when I was little, my, my English has improved so much
02:52
since I was little.
02:52
She used to say yellow jello.
02:54
And I was always like, that is jello with the food, yellow is
02:57
the color and she was like, I, I'm on and, and, and how about
03:03
now, do you find yourself talking to her in English or in Spanish
03:05
Spanish and Spanish?
03:07
Yeah.
03:07
But I have both.
03:09
I guess it depends.
03:11
Is it important, is that important uh for her to communicate
03:15
with you in Spanish?
03:16
Well, yeah, every time I get off the phone with them in Spanish
03:18
my dad, my dad is like, you made their day.
03:21
You made them so happy.
03:23
And I mean, I guess it's great because they can see that the
03:25
tradition and the culture is being passed on.
03:29
And is it?
03:30
Yeah, of course, especially living in Miami.
03:32
I have like more Cuban influence than I would living in New
03:35
Jersey with them there.
03:38
How do you self identify when you look at your situation?
03:42
Are you American?
03:44
Are you Cuban American?
03:46
What are you?
03:47
I don't really put a label on it.
03:49
I am what I am.
03:50
I don't find the need to say I'm American or I'm Cuban.
03:53
I just associate with both.
03:56
And sometimes, I mean, when I'm with my mom's side of the family
03:59
I feel more Ame, I do more American things but yet I feel more
04:05
Cuban, I guess because, like, when I'm with people who aren't
04:09
Hispanic, it's like, more obvious.
04:12
It's more prevalent, I guess it stands out more than I'm Hispanic
04:16
and then when I'm here it's just like, doesn't really make
04:19
a difference in my life by looking at you.
04:21
No one would guess that you're, that you're part Cuban or that
04:27
you're Latin.
04:29
Um, has that ever worked to your advantage?
04:32
So, the fact that I don't really look Hispanic or that I look
04:36
like I speak Spanish, it's never worked to my advantage or
04:39
my disadvantage.
04:40
It could just catches people off guard a lot.
04:43
Like, uh, give me an example.
04:47
Um, well, one time I was at the zoo, not really a zoo, like a farm
04:52
with my mom and my younger sister and we were there and it was
04:55
in, um, a rural part of southern Jersey and we were there and
05:00
my sister was feeding the animals and I noticed there was two
05:03
dads who were speaking to their kids in Spanish and it's little
05:07
kids and they wanted a picture and they were trying to take
05:09
a picture and I went up to them and I was like, do you want me to
05:13
take the picture for you?
05:13
But I said it in Spanish and they were like, um, see, come on
05:20
up, it's like, um, my mom was cracking up, like, on the side
05:24
like giggling for herself.
05:26
And Alina was just like, like my little sister was all confused
05:29
and my mom was hysterically laughing and they were looking
05:31
at me and they took a picture and they're like, we just, yes
05:34
And I was like, oh, and little girls were saying and I was like
05:39
yeah, I, I do.
05:42
And then here Miami people will be talking in Spanish and they
05:44
won't think I hear them.
05:45
But I do.
05:47
Have you overheard things that they perhaps might not have
05:50
wanted you to over here?
05:51
Yeah, I've heard some stuff that you could tell they didn't
05:55
expect me to be understanding what they were saying.
05:58
And I mean, I just find it funny.
06:00
I don't take it offensively or anything.
06:03
I just, it's funny for me.
06:06
Um, has it been important for me to pass that along to you?
06:10
You think pass along our culture, our language, our, our music
06:15
our food is, do you think that's been important for me to?
06:18
Yeah, I think it's been important for you.
06:20
And I think you've really relayed that well across to me and
06:24
my sisters, like, we, it's been a huge part of our life and you've
06:28
made it so that my Cuban Hispanic side is just as important
06:33
as my other side.
06:33
And I think that's what gives, makes me who I am and it just really
06:37
lets me be comfortable in my own skin.
06:40
Like I love to eat and like, and everything and then I'll, I
06:47
love to have American food or Irish food and it's just, it's
06:52
just, it's like a happy medium and, but I think I have equal
06:57
amounts of both.
06:58
But since you are Cuban, it's been very important and especially
07:04
because we live in America but in Miami, which is more Cuban
07:10
than it is anything else.
07:12
Um It's, it's been important and you always try to show us how
07:17
to be open about it and to be proud of who we are.
07:20
And I think all three of us, me and my sisters are very proud
07:25
and know a lot about who we are and our culture and our background
07:29
the fact that the fact that I'm an immigrant and that I came
07:33
over at such a young age and II I lived it, I remember experiencing
07:37
it.
07:37
I remember, you know, going to school and literally fist fighting
07:40
every day with a bunch of kids that didn't know my language
07:43
I didn't know theirs.
07:44
And you know all the stories that I've told you, uh it's, it's
07:47
always been important for me to pass that along to you guys
07:50
and to not have you take your opportunities for granted.
07:55
Uh Has it been done too much, do you think?
07:58
Has it has that has that you telling us not to take things for
08:02
granted.
08:03
Yeah, I mean, the perhaps a better question is that immigrant
08:10
experience impacted my parents impacted me as sort of, you
08:14
know, being one removed.
08:17
Uh But knowing the stories, knowing the fact that my grand
08:20
my, my parents share it with you and I share it with you.
08:22
Has it impacted you?
08:24
Um The fact that you're an immigrant has impacted me, not in
08:28
a sense ever that I've ever been like, ashamed of it or anything
08:32
like that.
08:32
But more I have more compassion than I guess the average person
08:36
person does for an immigrant.
08:38
Like I would never make any comments, like racial, racist
08:42
comments about immigrants and stuff like that.
08:45
And I like to believe that I wouldn't even if you weren't an
08:48
immigrant.
08:49
But I, I really don't know, but I've learned that everyone
08:53
there's so much more than what's on the surface.
08:57
Like there's a struggle and there's a reason they came here
08:59
and they worked for it and there's nobody who you should take
09:03
like them being here for granted.
09:05
And for example, Miriam, our housekeeper, she, she's like
09:09
a part of our family, but you realize it and she had her journey
09:14
here was so hard and you take people like that for granted,
09:18
but you really can't because what they went through and you
09:22
have to put that input into perspective and really know that
09:26
those people have a lot more than what's on the surface and
09:28
there's a lot more to them.
09:29
And I think by you telling me your stories really lets me see
09:33
that in other people.
09:34
Whereas I guess the, a average person wouldn't, there's a
09:39
big misconception about who the immigrant is, isn't there
09:42
Yeah.
09:42
There's a huge misconception.
09:44
You know, there's all of the, the jokes and stuff and I guess
09:48
people say that to lighten the subject, but I don't really
09:51
think it's something that should be joked about because these
09:55
people put everything they have on the line to better the lives
10:01
their own lives and mostly the lives of their Children and
10:04
their grandchildren to come.
10:05
And it's really important that, that people understand that
10:10
and they don't just see them as illegal aliens.
10:12
They're not aliens, they're not from a different planet,
10:14
they're from the same planet.
10:15
And we have so much in common and we have to embrace what we have
10:18
in common and not our differences and learn from our differences
10:21
not discriminate against them.
10:26
You're fully bilingual and fully bicultural, which is a wonderful
10:31
thing because you can take and discard from either culture
10:37
at will.
10:38
What have you taken from the Latin and the American culture
10:44
I've gotten a lot from both cultures.
10:46
From the Latin side.
10:48
I'm very open and warm and loving and I love to speak Spanish
10:54
and I've gained so much from that aspect.
10:57
And then with the American side of my family, I've learned
11:00
a lot it's just, I feel like I've taken from both sides.
11:04
I just like who I am as a person, like the way I'm open and I, I
11:10
have that and I don't really know what to pinpoint about what
11:13
I've taken and what I haven't from each side.
11:16
But I just, it's been like both of my parents goals for me to
11:20
be like a loving, very open person who treats everyone the
11:26
same and I don't want, would never want to discriminate against
11:30
Are there moments that you feel very Cuban or very Latin?
11:33
I shouldn't even say Cuban just very Latin.
11:35
There are moments when I feel super Latin not so much in Miami
11:38
because uh compared to everyone else here, I guess I'm just
11:43
the norm.
11:44
But when I go back home to New Jersey, I, I do, I see a lot of it
11:49
Like I'm the only Latin person out of everyone who I hang out
11:53
with there.
11:54
And I've been asked, do I speak Cuban?
11:56
I'm like, no like that.
11:58
Nobody speaks Cuban of that.
12:00
I know of, I mean, I don't know Spanish and then like, you know
12:04
they're like, oh, you're Hispanic really?
12:07
I'm like, yeah, I guess it's, it's different, it's different
12:11
everywhere you go.
12:12
And here Hispanics aren't a minority, they're a majority
12:19
So I don't really see any, anything like that.
12:23
But when I travel and go other places, I realize that I, not
12:29
all Hispanics here in this country.
12:30
And I guess in other places of the world are as fortunate as
12:33
I am to live in a place where it's so acceptable and to be Hispanic
12:39
and some people feel like, ashamed of the fact that they're
12:42
Hispanic, which I don't understand because it's the most
12:45
amazing thing in the world.
12:46
But I don't know, I just don't get it why other people would
12:50
care why that matters.
12:52
Like, so what if they come from a country that speaks a different
12:54
language doesn't make a difference.
12:57
It's gotta be pretty cool.
12:58
Being a, a Latin teenager in Miami today.
13:01
No, it's the coolest thing in the whole world.
13:03
I love it.
13:04
I mean, it's great.
13:05
I get to listen to his music.
13:07
I get to dance with my friends.
13:09
I get to enjoy Latin food and the culture and I'm out of my four
13:16
best friends.
13:16
Two of us are Cuban, one's Colombian and the other is Venezuela
13:19
And so we have a whole spectrum of culture and family and it's
13:24
like, it's very open, like with my friend's parents, it's
13:28
like they're my second parents and I think every time I go over
13:30
there, like, you're welcome any time.
13:32
Whereas when I go to New Jersey or to more American cultures
13:37
it's missus.
13:38
So and so and everything's very formal where if you're, it's
13:41
like, you know, you call them by their first names and it's
13:44
just like you're their extended family.
13:46
It's, it's great.
13:47
I love it if I were to Jack your ipod right now, would I would
13:53
I, would I, what would I see is, is your, your duality reflected
13:58
in your, in your, in your music?
14:00
Well, personally, the music I listen to is I listen to a lot
14:04
of different types of music.
14:06
You see everything from Latin music, Latin pop, to techno
14:09
music, to rap, to just regular American pop music.
14:14
And I think it really reflects who I am because most people
14:18
if you listen to their music, you can tell a lot about a person
14:21
But with me it's actually who I am.
14:23
My dad's Hispanic, my mom's American.
14:27
So I'm like, a mix of both and it's really like the best of both
14:31
world in a way because I get to experience both and enjoy both
14:34
fully.
14:35
And I, I guess I take that for granted sometimes but I shouldn't
14:40
because it's, it's, it's amazing.
14:42
I get so much more out of music and out of everything else in
14:46
life.
14:48
Do you see yourself reflected on TV?
14:51
When you watch TV?
14:54
Are there characters out there that are, I've never really
14:58
thought about that, but when I watch TV, there's no one, no
15:03
one who portrays the Latin teen that isn't, like, am I happy
15:12
Ah, yeah.
15:12
Like, like, come on, like, I mean, could you ever see me doing
15:16
that?
15:16
Like, no, like, you know, like, no, of course, I'm so proud
15:22
to be Hispanic and all my friends are and we all are and we can
15:25
all roll our Rs and shimmy.
15:28
But there's a lot more to us than just that.
15:30
Like, if there's more, there's a lot more depth.
15:35
We enjoy things other than like merengue and salsa rolling
15:40
our, our, our, there's, there's more to life of being a Hispanic
15:45
teenager.
15:46
There's a lot more marketers need to understand that, don't
15:49
they?
15:50
Yes, I will go and speak to any marketer who wants.
15:52
They can follow me for a day and realize that most days I don't
15:56
go.
15:59
What?
16:01
Oh, that's terrific.
16:03
That's terrific.
16:03
And it's very true and it's very, very true as a result of my
16:09
immigrant sort of narrative.
16:12
Do you feel any pressure to succeed?
16:16
Yeah.
16:16
There's, there's pressure to succeed in life and I go to like
16:21
a very good private school and a lot of kids at my school's parents
16:27
are immigrants or they are immigrants.
16:28
So there's that feeling in the school itself where kids are
16:32
just like I need to make my parents proud.
16:34
It's not only for them that they want to succeed, it's for their
16:39
parents and for their family name.
16:41
And I think that gets lost a lot.
16:42
The kids do things and they don't think like, like my, like
16:47
my family name is what I carry with me everywhere I go.
16:52
And of course I want to do well, I wanna go to go to college so
16:55
I can continue to do well and I can do great things with my life
16:58
so that my kids can go on and do great things and hopefully do
17:02
better things than I do.
17:03
And I just think it's like a cycle that you want them to keep
17:06
doing better.
17:07
Never that you, you'd ever want to see your kid do poorly.
17:11
But there's not that pressure where it's like extreme and
17:15
you, the only thing you can do is school and it's just, it's
17:20
a very warm environment where there's support, not pre pressure
17:26
And my parents have always been there for me and always willing
17:29
to help and see what they can do.
17:31
And they've never been there to be like, oh no, you have to get
17:36
all A's always, they just want me to do my best and my personal
17:40
best and they know I'm capable of amazing things and they want
17:43
to see me do amazing things because they've set so much up for
17:47
me and I have so many opportunities that they didn't have both
17:50
of my parents.
17:51
And so I, and they want to see me take full advantage of them
17:57
as a Latina.
18:00
What do you see yourself providing to society bringing to
18:04
society?
18:07
Um As a Latina girl who's grown up in the States who was born
18:13
here.
18:14
I just wanna, I guess that whole, I wanna break that image that
18:20
I guess you said that was portrayed on TV, that they, the Latina
18:25
girls are all these super sexy women who all about them is their
18:32
country where they're from.
18:33
And it's not that there's so many intelligent, wonderful
18:37
beautiful Latina women out there who have done great things
18:40
who have really made changes to society.
18:43
And I would like to be one of them.
18:44
And I think that's what my parents have always taught me is
18:47
that I'm capable of changing and helping.
18:50
This is the community that I live in.
18:53
And there's, I want everyone to know that it's not what they
18:57
see on TV.
18:58
And that's for everything.
19:00
A lot of other, not only Latina girls that are portrayed on
19:05
TV, are kind of off of what the reality is and most people can
19:11
relate to that.
19:12
And if they understand that not all Latina girls are like that
19:15
they'll realize they're not even the way that their type
19:18
of person is portrayed on TV.
19:20
And it will really help them understand rather than them ridiculing
19:23
And there's so much hate out there.
19:26
And I just don't want there to be in the people who are creating
19:29
these images.
19:30
It's not like it's the people who the images are of.
19:35
It's these people who don't understand, they have no idea
19:37
what it's like.
19:38
So I think if girls and people, Latino Latinas, people from
19:43
everywhere had a chance to make their own images, it would
19:47
it would help a lot.
19:48
And like on the news when you see some robbery or um you know
19:54
a drunk driver and it's this American guy, they just bob robbed
20:00
the bank.
20:00
But if it's a young Latino gang member today, robbed the bank
20:05
and he killed, like, it's, it's just, it's not fair.
20:08
It's, it's not fair and that takes time, it takes time and things
20:12
are so much better than when you were younger and, and there's
20:15
so much more acceptance now, but still there's a long way to
20:19
go.
20:20
And I want to be a part of that growth and the progress in closing
20:26
What, what, what would you like to see in your future?
20:28
What, what would you like to become?
20:30
I think I, I really like who I am today and I would just like to
20:34
see a version of me what it is a proud girl who is proud of every
20:40
part of her American side or Hispanic side.
20:44
I want to be able to express that to everyone and to help other
20:48
people who may not be so confident who live in cities unlike
20:54
Miami, where it's not as accepting and where they can, they
20:58
can learn from my experience and how lucky I've been to have
21:03
been accepted my whole life for who I am with my parents and
21:07
with my community that they can learn that being them is perfect
21:11
It's perfectly fine like who they are is who they are.
21:14
Nobody can change that.
21:15
And there's nothing wrong with that.
21:17
And I'm fortunate enough to feel that way.
21:20
And I know there are so many other girls in Miami out of Miami
21:23
who are confident and proud of who they are and they need to
21:28
raise their voice and speak up to other girls who aren't good
21:34
stuff.
21:36
Thank you.