Finding My Wings: Ziomara Navarro

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This is the third story of a four-part series featuring first-generation daughters who navigate their own identities, experiences, and responsibilities growing up between two worlds. 

Senior Ziomara Navarro’s morning always starts the same: wake up at six. Turn off the alarm. Get dressed and walk through the house–quietly, though, because the house is small. 

Navarro, whose mother is from Michoacan, Mexico, and whose father is from Los Angeles, is the third of four siblings. Her 13-year-old younger brother has autism.  

“In the morning, I sometimes have to help my little brother,” she said. “Take a shower, help him brush his teeth, and then prepare his lunch.”

“Even when we’re outside, I kind of need to be a caretaker, which is a basic thing in our family. We always have to take care of my little brother. I feel like I need to protect him.”

Although her family is from Mexico, Navarro was born in the United States. She grapples with the in-between of not fitting in fully with either culture. “I know that I’m not fully Hispanic, I also am American. I feel like my country doesn’t really accept people like me that much. They see us as aliens,” she said. 

For Navarro, the biggest struggle is still facing stereotypes. “They take one look at me and just see a bum that doesn’t care about school. And in reality, I love school. I love education,” Navarro said. 

Navarro’s life has always been surrounded by art–––like other parts of her identity, it has become an integral part of the way she defines and expresses herself. On Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Navarro’s favorite holiday of the year, she came to school with “full-blown face paint.” 

“I was just so happy to show my culture on such a typical day for other people,” she said. 

Navarro’s culture provides a sense of freedom from existing American boundaries and norms. “People say that death is bad and the day should be mournful, but in Mexican culture, we’re like, ‘You know what? Let’s have a drink and bake these amazing foods that our family members used to like.’ It gives a whole different perspective of things.” 

“With art, the only limit is with your imagination,” she said. “It gives you so much freedom to just express yourself, even if it’s just on a piece of paper.” In addition to dressing up, Navarro also played in her middle school orchestra and acts in M-A’s Drama production. 

Navarro’s family spans from Washington to Las Vegas and throughout other parts of the U.S. and Mexico. When Navarro returned to Mexico to visit her extended family, she initially struggled to navigate between her non-binary identity and the more conservative Mexican culture. With time, she’s found peace. 

“For the longest time, I haven’t fully been feeling like a girl. I am non-binary at heart, but when it comes to my culture, I’m okay with being called a girl,” Navarro said. “It’s my culture. It’s deep-rooted into our customs that things are labeled as boy and girl, and I’m okay with that.”

Navarro has found a community for herself with people who share similar struggles. “I know a bunch of Hispanic people that are queer. It brings me some sort of peace that I’m not alone, and that they also feel the same way as me,” she said. 

Celine Chien is a junior in her second year at the Chronicle. She is a Design Lead for the Mark, a copy editor, and reports on detracking and community news. Celine is on M-A's debate team, Leadership-ASB, and loves to cook and spend time with her family.

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