Bilingual/Afro-Latinx/Wife/Mother/Youth Literacy Promoter
My name is Shauna and I am a wife, and a mother. I’m Bi-racial my father is African American and my Mother is Puerto Rican. I am also Bi-lingual (English/Spanish) and I’m extremely grateful to know two languages fluently. This diverse background enhanced my outlook on culture since I was a little girl. I love cultural backgrounds and feel we all should celebrate diversity in life. It hasn’t always been a fun ride feeling different growing up but I always felt special and knew one day I would use my languages to help others.
There were often bumps in the road with being bi-racial. From the African American side, many families/children couldn’t understand why I spoke with an accent and why I would be able to speak two languages. I would try to explain my background to them, and some folks did understand. Unfortunately, many didn’t and would make fun of my accent. I always let it go and ignored it because I was prepared for these life moments from my families since I could speak. I learned both languages at the same time. I knew deep down there was something special about myself even though some of the comments were hurtful I never let it get me down. At the same time, I had trouble with the Hispanic community because of my complexion and hair type. The culture favored fair skin/features and loose curls. This really bothered me for a long time because here I am speaking the language and immersed in the culture, but definitely felt a bit outcasted at times. Again, I couldn’t let this get to me. Before kindergarten, I focused on my confidence and on who I was. I knew I had gifts and talents and decided before school started for me that I was going to use my cultural background to educate the world.
From the start of my life I was taught by my parents and grandparents to embrace my culture. They told me never to let anyone tell me different, and to accept every part of myself. I was prepared for the world and it’s misunderstandings of what their thoughts of me should be. My family helped me stay strong and confident through life. By age four, my focus from then on was to tap into my gifts and talents and share it with the world.
The first step, was solidifying specialities of my African American culture, which is being a straight up no-nonsense, unapologetic southern style lady. I love the connections with my family on traditions, and proper behavior that was taught to me at a young age; especially on how to be a lady. On the other hand, what I adore about my Hispanic culture is the rich language, and closeness of family. I grew up with my maternal grandmother at home that spoke nothing but Spanish. She was born in Puerto Rico and her desire to see snow in the United States is what brought her here. She spent countless hours teaching my sister and I everything about the Hispanic culture. We even stayed in Puerto Rico every summer for a while growing up.
Hands down, what I absolutely love about both cultures is the FOOD and MUSIC!!!!! I can enjoy rice and beans with southern collard greens at the same time, and it’s a normal dish for me. And oh the music…my playlist would run from salsa to R & B so quick it would make anyone heads spin lol. I live for food and music so all of this works for me. I know how to dance salsa, bachata, merengue, and will bump to R & B, reggae, or rock and country. In the american culture I grew to love all music and other cultures as well.
I discovered at a young age the power I had with children. As a teen, it felt strange that children would stare at me, or try to get near me. I was able to connect with them in a way that others couldn’t. I decided to go to school for early childhood education. I went from a preschool teacher to camp counselor to running my own home childcare business for years. My love for having a small business then drove me to also obtain a business degree. Now 20 plus years later, I still work with children and manage private childcare services for private clients in their homes.
Ultimately, I would like to obtain in the future is to become a children’s author, children’s playwright, and travel and spend as much time with the children of the world. I want to assist children with obtaining the learning materials to grow and keep education at the top in their lives. All this while celebrating cultural diversity the entire time. Literature is key, and I am looking to inspire children to view it similarly. For this reason, I decided to start a story-time YouTube Channel for children with a focus on embracing diversity. I wanted to provide a safe space for families online. The stories I chose reflect diversity, the Spanish language, and shines a light on new authors with diverse characters. My Goal is to help children stay engaged with reading everyday and have fun doing it! I sometimes add activities or props for my stories to add a humorous fun aspect. Based on comments and messages I’ve received, many families are enjoying the channel, and feel their children are having a positive online connection with me. YouTube is a way for me to touch as many children in the world as possible.
I measure my growth daily and view it through my work. Before bed, I have to make sure I’m proud of myself and the work I put out into the world. The positive impressions I leave on families and children lets me know I’m working my craft, and doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Spreading kindness a heart at a time is what I stand for.
As a person of color I believe the first step to living a full unapologetic life is loving yourself unconditionally; every single part of you. Continue to work on improving yourself, seek clarity, education, and place yourself in the most positive situations day in day out. Find out who you are and what your purpose is in life. Become, and remain a polished individual that others will come to know, love, and trust. Live your best version of yourself unapologetically.
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