Keyla Sejas: modern machista mentality

Keyla Sejas

Being part of an ethnic minority certainly makes life difficult. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be the strong, independent, woman of color that I am if it weren’t for the many challenges I have faced. 

My parents were born and raised in Bolivia and came to the US in their early twenties, during the late eighties and early nineties because they knew that their kids would have a better chance of life here in the States rather than in their home country. Being the youngest of four, I have seen my family grow through a lot, especially my sisters. 

Many Latin American households strive to maintain traditions to preserve our culture. Although my culture is beautiful, especially being that we are Quechua, indigenous to the Andes mountains where our home Bolivia stands. 

I can mention that our culture is warped around the power of men; one common factor many Latino families attempt to preserve is the “machista mentality.” Machismo is just another way of saying the old-fashioned mentality in which men have control, including my family. 

Ever since the youthful age of 8, my mother ensured that my sisters and I knew our place as women in our household and in society. We were always taught that men had the power to control, and that power sometimes caused harm. My first ever sleepover wasn’t until my sophomore year, unlike my two sisters, where the oldest had her very first sleepover at the ripe age of 21. My mother always warned us about men and made us question our relationships with them. One of the many reasons we couldn’t sleep over anyone’s house is because the men in the household, whether it be the father, the brother, or maybe the uncle, who could see us as weak and overpower us. 

Luckily, as I’ve grown, I’ve educated my mother on the complexities and duality of womanhood, because it isn’t her fault for believing that the sole purpose of a woman’s job is to care for a big strong man. As our beautiful traditions were passed down, that machista mentality had come along with it for generations.