The problem with being bi-cultural during the World Cup

Qualification to the round of 16 is complete, and all of the 16 teams that qualified are highly worthy of their berth in the octafinals. All of the teams I supported made it through to the next round: Chile (the team I drew in a family betting pool), Germany (My favorites to win, just cause I like them), Mexico (the team of the country where my culture is from), and the US (the team of the country I grew up in).

Estadio das Dunas in Natal, where both the US and Mexico kicked off their campaigns

The problem lies in the last two qualifiers. I’m a second generation Mexican-American. And typically, I love it: great food, great people, and a knowledge of a language that allowed me to learn two others with minimal difficulty. Being raised in the US exposed me to American culture such that I can go between both worlds almost seamlessly.

a handy token
sliding back and forth
between the fringes of both worlds

~Pat Mora, Legal Alien

But there’s more to that poem. Immediately after the lines above come these lines

by smiling
by masking the discomfort
of being pre-judged

~Pat Mora, Legal Alien

That I can usually deal with in everyday life. While there might be struggles involved with having essentially two cultures squeezed into one inside me, there are more advantages than disadvantages.

But every four years I feel torn in two. One side of me loves to support the Mexican side–I grew up following the Mexican team since I was a child. The other side of me, however, also wants to follow US Soccer.

The US is my home. I was born in here and had all of my growing and developing years either in California or in North Carolina. US Soccer has a growing fan base, great players, and an entertaining playing style.

Banners of both my countries together

It doesn’t help that Mexico and America are rivals. And I’m not talking about a little-child-lollipop-stealing rivalry, either. I mean a full blown rivalry. Stadia are always charged as players face off from across the border.

In Brazil, Mexico and the US have no chance of meeting each other. They would have to both break to semis to play against each other, and let’s face it, neither team is that good. But whenever they play an international friendly the same feeling of guilt and non-belonging occur as the ones I have right now with them just in the same competition.

But you know what? Articles about being bi-racial or bi-cultural are a dime a dozen.

Now I’ve vented to you, important internet viewer. But complaining won’t do jack sh!t. What do I do about it?

I read this tweet from the US to Mexico after the American side beat Panama

I remember all the ways I deal with belonging to two different cultures and just apply them to watching the sport.

I remember that it’s less of a rivalry of hate and more of a sibling rivalry.

I remember that I’m me. I support both the US and Mexico and you know what?


On being bicultural


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