National Hispanic Heritage month kicked off this part Thurs. Sept 15th, a celebration of Latino culture, dance, and food that thrives in El Alto. Pictured here are cojuelos dominicanos, characters of Dominican carnaval in folkloric costume.
I think in English but dream in Spanish. Math is easier in Spanish but sometimes I need to throw English into the middle of my Spanish sentence. I am a better debater in English, but a better singer in Spanish. My I-Pod goes from Hector Lavoe to Big Pun, and Al Greene, back to El Grupo Niche and a little bit of R&B.
My hair curls around my forehead in springy coils after a long day. Curls that allow me to bend and break them almost everyday, not in a struggle to change what I was given, but blessed to be able to do whatever I want with them.
My mother is old school and my grandmother makes the best Sancocho. Being Latino means that I grew up watching my mother work and always care for others while putting herself last. It means that growing up in this country I’ve learned to do both, or at least try.
I revolt at any sight of inequality and defeat stereotypes when I hear them. I belong, live and work here. My people are here.
National Hispanic Heritage month kicked off this part Thurs. Sept 15th. The month long celebration was enacted into law in 1988 after President Ronald Reagan expanded the celebration to last thirty days.
As the nation tunes into the month, for the brief moment while the spotlight will shine on Latino culture and its people, I studied the neighborhood. My little Latino epicenter and the home that has adopted me in the past year – a menagerie of Caribbean influences, blended with a growing Mexican and Central American population, along with those who have been here for decades, white or black, and absorbent of the rich culture around them.
For some being Latino might just reference the place where your parents were born, it might reference the other language you speak, your occasional craving for pastelitos and the natural ‘son’ you have when you hear the accelerated but smooth beat of salsa.
We are 50 million strong from the West to the East coast. We are powerful group with influences in American culture, its food, and language. And in our neighborhood, Latino pride is palpable.
This past weekend we even celebrated with a food extravaganza at the first-ever Platano Festival, highlighting the importance of the food staple for all Latin American cultures. The green fruit that yields everything from juice to mangu, the Dominican breakfast staple is without a doubt a unifying link among our cultures.
That same unifying link is alive and vibrant in our neighborhood, which provides us ready access to our foods, flavors, and products. Our language is spoken everywhere, in different accents and pronunciations but an overall understanding of what we’re saying.
I only ask that we take this opportunity to celebrate Latino heritage to remember and appreciate the place where we live, that we continue working towards bringing down barriers that might separate us from time to time, amongst Latinos and others.
Let’s continue to pass on our traditions, instead of letting them die with the passage of time. We are not a homogenous group, but we should hold on to our common roots, maintain the strength of our families while continuing to rejoice in blessings, and dance the night away.