What Does Our Mexican-American Hyphen Sound Like? - Sietefoods.com

August 02, 2021

Within our family, each of us have our own stories that come to mind when thinking about what it means to be Mexican-American. These experiences—of emotions, smells, tastes, sights, and sounds—are nostalgic to us, and embody what it means to “live the hyphen.” It’s the celebration of the heritage we share with the collective Mexican-American community and the unique experiences and traditions that make us who we are as a family.

Following the previous questions we’ve asked the Garzas about their hyphen, we’ve reached the final question: what does their Mexican-American hyphen sound like? From language to music, here is what the hyphen sounds like to the Garzas.

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Q: What does your Mexican-American hyphen sound like?

A: It sounds like growing up next door to my grandparents, who exclusively spoke Spanish, and then coming home to my parents who spoke both languages. My mother said I spoke Spanish as my first language until I started school. After that, my siblings and I spoke English in our house. In my experience growing up, it was either Englishor Spanish in a conversation—not spanglish—no blending. My parents would correct us if we mixed the two! 

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Q: What does your Mexican-American hyphen sound like?

A: I remember Senior year of high school tumbling out onto the gym floor and then leading the crowd in cheers during football season. Then, minutes later, rushing off to change into my mariachi uniform and back in front of the crowd to sing lead vocals with the high school mariachi group–Por Un Amor from Linda Rondstatd’s Canciones de mi Padre. The sounds of my hyphen are as dynamic as switching from my orange cheerleading uniform to my orange mariachi uniform.

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Currently, my main playlist is a mix of songs in English and Spanish—from Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, The Weeknd and Maroon 5 to Selena, Karol G, Bad Bunny and Maluma.


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Q: What does your Mexican-American hyphen sound like? 

A: Being called Roberto, Robert, and Rob. 

Taco and taco.

It sounds like my sister’s high school mariachi band.  

It sounds like listening to country music growing up, while being surrounded by tejano and cumbias.

It sounds like the Black Pumas.

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Q: What does your Mexican-American hyphen sound like? 
A: A mixed playlist with Linda Ronstadt (Canciones de mi Padre), The Carpenters, the Beatles, Selena, Juan Gabriel, and Eydie Gormé.

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Q: What does your Mexican-American hyphen sound like? 
A: Bidi Bidi Bom Bom by Selena, or a mix of Eydie Gormé and Bing Crosby on my Christmas playlist.

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Q: What does your Mexican-American hyphen sound like
A: It sounds like Natalia Lafourcade.


Over the past few weeks, our family has reflected on what it means for us to “live the hyphen.” Each experience that we recounted tells a storya story of our shared heritage, culture, and background as a Mexican-American family from Laredo. We like to think all of our stories come together to form one long, inclusive table that represents the collective Mexican-American experience. That is what the hyphen represents to us, after all: a mix of both of our cultures, our experiences of our heritage, and our shared memories with family and friends. Living the hyphen is an important part of who we are not only as individuals or as a family, but on a larger scale, as a part of the Mexican-American community. 

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