Like most Hispanic women, my story starts with my mom, Flor.

At 13 years old, she emigrated from Colombia to the Panama Canal Zone in 1963 when it was a U.S. territory. When she arrived, she was adopted by her older sister, my Tia Alba. Mom dropped out of the 8th grade because the courses in English were too hard for her, and she just couldn’t keep up.

For Mom, life in the U.S. looked a lot like what you’d imagine for a typical brown immigrant pursuing the American dream. When she was 18, she got her GED, married my father (a U.S. citizen), and then migrated from…