When some people meet Samantha Lim, they ask her, “What are you?”
She says she doesn’t like that question, but it depends on how people ask.
“I say that my dad’s from L.A. and my mom’s from El Salvador,” Lim said, current Editor in Chief of La Gente Newsmagazine. “But then they give me a certain look, so then I say that I’m half Chinese.”
Lim, a fourth-year English and Spanish student, remembers walking with her Salvadorian mom in Latino-dominated supermarkets in Los Angeles where she received inquisitive stares from others.
“I remember hearing people ask my mom, ‘Is that your daughter?’” Lim added.
As she grew up, Lim said that at many times she felt out of place from either side of the Chinese or Latino community.
“The first time my husband and I realized Samantha felt alienated by both cultures, and it broke her heart,” Lim’s mother said. “We learned of it from a high school essay that she wrote.”
In elementary school, Lim said that other students would say she was smart because she’s Asian. She said such classmates’ comments devalued her work as if she did not put her own effort into her assignments.
“[The situation] is the same thing when it comes to Latinas,” Lim said. “Why don’t you say that about them?”
Although she is also Latina, she said others might not identify her as that because not only does she look more Asian, she doesn’t speak Spanish. She said she feels that speaking Spanish is like a marker for Latino identity. She said she wants to break this stereotype.
She says she wants to broaden her Latina identity through La Gente Newsmagazine. She wants other communities to distinguish Latinos away from their stereotypes. As Editor-in-Chief, she hopes to continue sending messages that there is a diversity within the Latino community and that each of them has his or her own individual identity.
As Lim raised her hand in front of her face with her palm open, she imitated the shape of a mirror. She referred Carlos Fuentes’ book “El Espejo Enterrado.”
“I learned to look at your reflection, knowing that it’s not yourself but a representation of yourself,” Lim said. “Everything is a representation that can be worked, bent, changed. It depends on your perspective. Maybe that reflection is how people see you. But you are also projecting your own ideas onto that mirror.”