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I went back to Miami, Florida recently to visit my mom for Mother’s Day and found a bunch of my old mixed CDs from when I was 15. I decided to give one a listen and what I heard was an amazing amalgamation of Shakira, Boys to Men, Enrique Iglesias, and Savage Garden. Listening to it made me smile, because even in my early teen years, the seeming incongruence of being Latina and American defined my spaces—or as my dad always put it—being a "Café con Milk" kid.

I’ve always felt the most comfortable in spaces where “Spanglish” is the norm—surrounded by people with which I can smoothly move from English into Spanish. I feel limitless with the power to express myself freely without a need for translation.

This is what the launch of the new Mamá website means to me—that the community can be a space that fits with my linguistic identity.

Like my mixed CDs growing up, when I visit MamásConPoder I’ll be able to, as Gloria Anzaldua puts it, “switch codes” in this online space where I don’t have to “forget” my language and my cultural identity by extension. Like cooking my mother’s recipes so I don’t lose the tradition of our food, I now have a professional space where I can retain my tradition of language as well.

More important than my own desire for mixed language spaces, my favorite part of the new MamásConPoder website is the ability for some of our members to have the power of their native language at their disposal.

This is one of the things I’ve explained to people who have interacted with my mother over the years who say well-meaning things like, “But your mom’s English is pretty good! I don’t understand why she doesn’t speak more English.” Just because you can speak another language doesn’t mean that you feel like you own that language—that you fully feel comfortable expressing yourself. I know my mother’s biggest worry when people are speaking English isn’t “Will I understand it,” but is “Am I missing something when I’m trying to translate this?”

This is why websites like MamásConPoder are so important—it’s about empowering communities to express themselves in a way that feels comfortable and allows them to retain their linguistic identity. 

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