Millennial Girl Learning to Live in a Gen Z World

Let’s start off honestly; I feel I’d be lying if I said I’ve never blogged before, as would anyone else from the era that was Myspace. Let’s face it, those self-taught coded About Me’s were taken very seriously. Hi, I’m Cassie and just in case it’s not obvious enough, I’m a millennial girl learning to live in a Gen Z world. Zero sass in my tone whatsoever.

First and foremost, I’d like to thank my big sister, Roxann Nazario, for inviting me onto this platform. She has been blogging for La Comadre for some time now about actual important stuff, and she knows I’ve got a lot to say about less important things and probably just wants me to channel it all into a more useful setting. Again, since we’re being honest, I must say that for someone who really hasn’t made as much of a mark in this world (i.e. become a singer/actress/plain ol’ famous person, written a book entitled How to Consistently Lose a Guy Every 3 Years, solved world hunger, etc.) as I dreamed I would have by this age (classified information), I weirdly have a lot to say on life. Probably too much. Today we’ll keep it focused on one pearl of wisdom at a time. As the fuzzy pink dice rolling around in my head would have it, our topic today lands on culture.

As I struggle to find a more relevant comparison, for now let’s say my upbringing was like Hannah Montana, strictly in the sense I felt like I had the best of both worlds. Before moving back to my mom’s hometown at age 9, my family and I lived in the shiny little city of Camarillo, California. Only a hop, skip, and a jump from LA but in the 90’s, our Ventura county culdesac would have made you think you’d just walked into the black-and-white half of Pleasantville. So when I tell you that there was a slight culture shock upon my arrival to the valley, I am wildly downplaying it. They ripped me apart.

On the very first day, some boy walked up to me and called me a bigot. Now for whatever reason my mom decided to dress me in a holiday red and black velvet blouse and matching skort ensemble, black tights, and shiny clogs. I tried explaining to this tiny group of assorted shades of brown kids staring me down by the bathrooms that I was just like them. “I’m Mexican too! Didn’t you hear my name called? Cassie Vazquez.” That only confused them more. There was no accepting that me, a wannabe fancy, zero Spanish speaking, pale little “white” girl was Mexican, and whatever Argentinian was. I could barely even say Argentinian. That summed up my first day of 3rd grade.

In retrospect, I’m grateful to have had a mother I could go home to and cry about the situation. She heartily laughed at my woes and replied with, “Do you know what a bigot is?” I said no through sobs as she reassured me it was nothing to worry about. This first experience of discrimination was a lot for a kid to grasp, and while it would take me years to understand where I stood with my culture, it prepared me for the years ahead. Learning how to defend my name went hand-in-hand with learning how to defend myself, emotionally and sometimes physically, as well as re-learning everything I thought I knew about Latino culture, privileges and stereotypes, and what it really means to be a valley girl.

Latinos come in all colors. But culture to me is an understanding. It’s not linear. It’s respecting what people have been through, what they’ve experienced in their skin. I wouldn’t dare try to compare my experiences with someone who’s first-generation Mexican, or a darker shade of brown. My mom was Chicana and to me, that translated to lowriders, modern-day pachucos, and oldies played from CDs with covers of Aztecas holding up what looked like sacrificial women on pyramids. I highly doubt my definition is gonna fly with any Chicano Studies professor. All I can say is that I will forever hold steadfast to Selena’s dad’s words on how no matter what you do, it’s exhausting trying to be everything for everyone. My advice: when heading into unfamiliar territory, bring an extra change of clothes because while you can’t change who you are, you can at least change whatever matching ensemble your mom picked out for you.

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Cassandra Vazquez

Cassandra Vazquez

Cassandra is a local of the northeast pocket of the San Fernando Valley, where she has grown up most of her life. She spent her early childhood days with her family in the suburbs of Ventura County and later moved back with her mother to their native home in the Valley, where she filled her adolescence with being a kid in a new world. From spending long summer days at Sylmar Park playing sports with friends to learning about the different worlds of public and private schools, Cassandra grew to appreciate her individual experience as a modern-day Valley Girl. She is a 2020 graduate of Los Angeles Mission College with a degree in Communication. Cassandra also has a passion for highlighting groups that are working to strengthen her community in positive ways such as enriching the options for healthy lifestyles, incorporating sustainability, or simply beautifying neighborhoods in the SFV by illuminating its native history and deep-rooted pride. She hopes to soon become a part of her local small business community in healthy food alternatives that hopefully continues to grow for generations to come.

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