I grew up in a low income, first generation household. Spanish was my first language. I learned English in school. Half of my days were in Spanish, the other half in English. My mother came to this country roughly 30 years ago and met my father picking turnips. Then they had me. At the age of 2 months I moved to Atlanta. I have been here ever since, this is my home.
For 29 1/2 years I went by the name of Roger. One of my earliest memories was getting off of the school bus, and my mom telling me, “Rogelio, you are going to go by Roger”. In my 5 year old little brain, I did not think much of it. All I thought was, I am learning English, and now I have to change my name for it. After so long, the “white-washing” had to go. It is no longer a part of my identity. My name is Rogelio, and I am a proud Latinx/Chicano.
I grew up with a very machismo (patriarchal) father. My mom was the opposite. For this reason my dad was virtually non existent growing up. He did a lot of bad things that I wish on no one. But! From his mistakes and decisions I have learned not to replicate them…ever. Growing up in a single mother household (I have one younger sister who I look up to) you see the problems and barriers society put in front of my mom to prevent her from living a fulfilling life. But being the powerful woman of color that she is-she would never take No for an answer. I firmly believe this is where I got my fight and work ethic from. She taught me values and morals that stick with me to this day.
My mother is the biggest influence on my life. She made sure we went to the right schools, even getting me a full scholarship to one of the state’s top schools. I went from a school full of black and brown kids to an all white school. Socially that put a dent in my life. The racism and hatred I dealt with is something a teenager never forgets. But in hindsight, my mother was trying to do the right thing, and I got to learn how the wealthiest of the wealthiest work and think about society.
I have a college degree, my sister has her masters, and we take care of each other. I am a fighter, a lover, full of passion, an advocate for human rights, and have one hell of a work ethic. In other words: I care, and I am willing to fight for what is right.