Photo by KT on Unsplash

Yes or no. Pickles or onions. Agree or disagree. Friend or enemy. Liberal or conservative. Nice or rude. Right or wrong.

Puerto Rican or American.

We’re constantly faced with two opposing choices that we are conditioned to choose from. These choices are usually on opposite ends of a spectrum and are gauged to determine our views, values, and who we are.

What about both? Both is essentially the ‘middle ground’, which can be likened to neutrality, confusion, or avoidance. But it is a choice, if and when the intention is ethical and doesn’t hurt others (i.e. being with a mistress while married or choosing neutrality to manipulate someone’s perception of you). If you can choose none, why not both?

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think that choosing both is a cop out. In a culture that values certainty, choosing middle ground can be seen as uncertain, unstable, wobbly. I myself prefer certainty and stability, as do most, but there has to be room for ‘both’ sometimes.

I think I’ve always been very aware of ‘both’ as an option from a pretty young age. That may have been one reason why it was hard for me to speak up sometimes – how could I explain being comfortable alone but aching for friends? Would anyone understand why I had a mixed tape with GinBlossoms, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Marc Anthony salsa songs?

Two aspects of my identity that co-exist despite being different are my ethnic background and upbringing,

I was born in the United States, which makes me American, but my mother is Puerto-Rican (born and raised). Many times, I’ve been either pressured to choose one or the other or have had the choice made for me.

You’re too American, hearing GinBlossoms and not speaking perfect Spanish, so you can’t be Puerto-Rican.

You eat what?! That is NOT American, so that makes you Puerto Rican.

I’ve always honored being both, regardless of which end others may put me on the spectrum. And I always will.

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