Here’s why should you celebrate Hispanic Heritage month

Performers at the Hispanic Day Parade in New York City./James Keivom/New York Daily News

Hispanic Heritage Month is about embracing and uplifting Latinx contributions to the very fabric of our society.

VotoLatino Instagram.

There’s no shortage of Latinx titans to look up to, pioneers who’ve become our heroes and sheroes. We have astronaut Dr. Ellen Ochoa, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and composer and playwright extraordinaire Lin Manuel-Miranda to name a few. These trailblazers in their respective fields have opened many paths of opportunity. 

An attendee of the 2018 Carnaval De La Cultura Latina event./carnavaldelaculturalatina.com

So what’s the best way for you to celebrate? For the next four weeks you’ll have plenty of vibrant performances, lectures and family activities in communities throughout the U.S. to choose from. Flagship events include El Barrio Latin Jazz festival in New York, and the Hispanic Day Parade on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

This month, pick up a book with a cultural twist. 

The national recognition of all-things-hispanic began in 1988 when President Ronald Reagan extended Hispanic Heritage Week (first observed under President Lyndon Johnson) to a month-long annual celebration from September 15 to October 15. It was intended to promote the history, culture and contributions of Latinxs with ancestors from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Spain. 

Why not a regular calendar month? HHM begins on September 15 in honor of the independence days of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, followed by Mexico on the 16the and Chile on the 18th.So, let’s rejoice in all the positive mentions of our beautiful cultura and our gente’s contributions!

Graffiti artists celebrate Latinx heritage across U.S.

Daniel Anguili in front of one of his art pieces. PR Wire

When Daniel Anguili arrived in Houston from Mexico, he barely spoke English. But he used his gift for graffiti art to express himself, and since then he’s painted over 100 murals across the city. 

An art piece made by Daniel Anguili./Open the Door Houston.

Daniel began painting graffiti at an early age, and built a reputation for using freight trains and walls as his canvases. His eye-catching work in Houston led him to build an international portfolio, and now his work is displayed in exhibits throughout the U.S. and Mexico, and as far as Peru, Spain and Italy. He now travels the world to learn about pre-colonial art and culture, which then informs his new work. 

An art piece made by Daniel Anguili./Open the Door Houston

Daniel says his work is profoundly inspired by his Mexican heritage, and he is grateful that the Houston community supports his art in public spaces. 

Image of Man One. Photo by: Namu Williams © www.AmericanPhotographic.com

Houston isn’t the only U.S. city that welcomes Latinx graffiti artists like Daniel. Los Angeles embraced Latino muralist and graffiti artist Man One. Like Daniel, Man One celebrates his Mexican heritage through art. He loves connecting with the community and interacting with  people around his murals.

Image of Lady Pink./ladypinknyc.com

There’s also Lady Pink, a Latina who found mainstream success making graffiti art on the subway cars and walls of 1980s New York. She’s a trailblazer in an industry that is still male-dominated. 

When these talented Latinx artists are emboldened to create masterpieces, our community wins!

Pollyanna is proud of her Afro-Latina identity

Pollyanna Rodrigues De La Rosa didn’t realize she was Afro-Latina when she was growing up. That’s because growing up, her family considered themselves simply ‘Latinos’.

Pollyanna Rodrigues De La Rosa, with Panamenian and Cuban roots, became a self-identifying Afro-Latina in 2018. Flare

Her family didn’t talk about their Black heritage because doing so brought painful memories of discrimination and hate. That trauma manifested to the point that Pollyanna’s mother questioned why her daughter preferred to date Black men over white men. When she visited Cuba, some of her cuban family members advised Pollyanna to straighten her long curly hair for a “better” look. 

Pew Research Center in 2016./Pew Research

Her family’s Latinx identity, combined with the anti-Black rhetoric she internalized, made her feel incomplete and out of place. That is, until she came across the term “Afro-Latina” on social media and found a way to describe her full identity. Nearly 1 in 4 Latinxs in the U.S. self-identify as Afro-Latinxs. 

Afro Latina actress Zoe Saldana has starred in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters./Wikipedia

There is a history of discrimination against Blacks within the Latinx community, but it’s important to remember that self-acceptance and self-love begin at home. That’s why global campaigns such as #unfairandlovely are critical to young, impressionable children who adopt the feelings and beliefs of their elders. The 2016 social media campaign took off after starting as a Black college student’s project to combat colorism and underrepresentation of people of color in the media. 

Having more positive role models in mainstream media is also important. Positive self-acceptance campaigns and open conversations on social media for young girls wrestling with self-identity, can make a huge impact, like it did for Pollyanna.

Latinxs live longer, healthier lives. What’s our secret?

When we hear about the health of Latinxs, it tends to be negative. We hear about higher rates of diabetes and heart disease than our non-Latinx counterparts.


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But a new study shows that despite being more economically disadvantaged and having less access to resources, we are actually living longer and healthier lives 🤗 Talk about defying expectations!

The findings credit this to a number of factors including our connection to our comunidad  🤝 familia  👨‍👩‍👦‍👦 our deep laughter 😂 and perhaps even to our food that we tend to cook from scratch.


U Conn Today/Getty Images

Researchers call this the ‘Latino health paradox’ because the negative impact is not so bad for us. Even when Latinxs have poor socioeconomic and psychosocial circumstances that lead to worse health and earlier deaths for other groups, Latinxs have longer life expectancies.

The study also found that Latina mothers laugh more than other moms because they engage in deeper, daily conversations. This could be attributed to Latinas living in close proximity to family and friends, having joyful and polite personalities, and avoiding negative interactions.

Their social behavior comes naturally and extends beyond the immediate family.

 


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We still have more to learn, but in the meantime, keep on doing what makes you happy by interacting with your seres queridos since that will help you live a long, satisfying life.

Three poems that have shaped our community

Some poems 🖊️are so powerful that they transcend time. Their words capture ideas that challenge social norms. Here’s a few you should know because they have taken social disruption to new heights in our history.

Sor Juana / Britannica

Let’s start with women’s rights champion Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, who was known for her charm, beauty and wit. Her famous poem, “You Men”  ✍🏼 deplores the stupidity of men who question the intellectually capacity of women, and the first stanza graces the Mexican 200 peso 💸 note.   

Sor Juana Mexican bill / DC Library

This feminist nun lived during Mexico’s Colonial Period in the 17th century, and was unafraid to speak out against injustices at a time when women were expected to remain silent.

Pablo Neruda  / TheStar.com

Next, we have Chilean Pablo Neruda’s “Canto General” ✒️which is a history from pre-Hispanic times to the present. It includes “Las Alturas de Machu Picchu,” a work inspired by his journey to Peru’s ancient ruins and that’s widely regarded as his masterpiece.

Alejandra Pizarnik / CircumferenceMagazine.org

For Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik, as you read her poetry you can see that her struggles informed her writing. She was born to Jewish immigrants and struggled with clinical depression and drug addiction most of her life. One of her legacies is the beautifully haunting and powerful poem “La Jaula,” made famous for the final lines “Outside there is sun, I am dressed in ashes.”

These Latinx poems have made a mark in our community.

Quince celebrations with a civic twist

Princess-like ball gowns ? A much-anticipated waltz ?? An ensemble of attendants. These are the hallmarks of a traditional Quinceañera, the coming-of-age celebration marking a Latina’s 15th birthday. Starting this year, these big fiestas will have a special twist in Texas.

Poder Quince Jolt Initiative

What is that special twist? Eligible U.S. citizens will have a chance to register to vote at select quince parties where the birthday girl has agreed to work with a unique voting campaign to encourage more Latinxs to get out and vote!

Poder Quince / Jolt Initiative

The campaign is called Poder Quince/Power Quince and aims to change the political mindset of young Latinas so they prioritize voting and civic involvement, thereby starting a social movement where Latinxs are more involved in local, state and national elections. The idea is the latest innovative solution by the Jolt Initiative, a Texas -based Latinx civic organization advocacy group working to increasing low Latinx voter turnout.

Poder Quince Jolt Initiative

The campaign wants to transform quince parties in Texas  into Poder celebrations, where the Jolt team will be onsite to register voters. Meanwhile, the birthday girls will receive a free photo booth at their event, a free Snapchat filter geotagged to their venue and — for one lucky winner— a celebrity guest appearance!

Their goal is to register 5,000 voters within the first 8 months of the campaign and expand to 1,000 quince parties by the 2020 election. We’re certain our mujercitas can make this happen!

Our Favorite Latinx Superstitions

Nuestra gente doesn’t play with superstitions. The groom seeing his bride in her dress before the wedding and Friday the 13th strokes of bad luck are small matters compared to what abuela warned us about.

No matter how busy we are with the kids or how little space there is in the conference room, we make sure to never put our purses on the floor. We’re terrified of losing all our money otherwise … plus it keeps our handbags super clean.

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Ever woken up terrified after dreaming about your teeth falling? That’s because we remember those dreams are believed to be a sign that a family member is about to die. Raise your hand if this has proven to be true.

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And what about La Mal Sal? Abuela said to never pass salt directly by hand but to instead set the salt shaker on the table before picking it up again. It’s puro bad luck otherwise.

These superstitions, er, safety tips are sacred. What are some superstitions your Latino family shares?

Our Varied Cuisine

Many Americans believe that Mexican food is an accurate representation of our culinary dishes, but there’s much more to Latin cuisine!

Caribbean recipes from Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, call for garlic and herbs such as cilantro over chili peppers. Seafood dishes are popular, mofongo and tostones are served daily, red beans are preferred to black and tropical fruits are regular staples.

Northern South America, which includes Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador, relies on beef as the main protein. Ceviche-style dishes are common, as are vegetables made of bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and garlic, and side dishes such as white rice, black beans and plantains. Venezuelan and Colombian arepas and Ecuadorian and Peruvian boniato are go-to corn-based meals.

Steak, ribs, chorizo and sweetbread are prominent cuisine in Argentina and Uruguay. Paraguay enjoys serving up barbecue and yuca daily. Seafood dishes are a staple in Chile and Argentina. European influences can be found throughout the region including in pasta and empanada fillings.

Central America serves up pork, chicken and chorizo. Beans are small and red and usually whole, rice is white and favorite sides include yuca, sweet potatoes, tropical fruit, tortillas and ripe plantains for breakfast.

Latin cuisine has something for everyone’s palate!

Code Switching from English to Spanish

It’s actually pretty common for bilinguals to get words mixed up. That’s because our brains work differently and faster than those of people who only speak one language.

Here are a couple of funny and slightly embarrassing translation mishaps we can all relate to.

Amy Garay remembers going into a Burger King as a kid and getting a weird expression from the cashier when asking for chile. It took her a while to remember the English word is “hot sauce.”

Some Latinos remember having a stuffy nose meant being “constipado.” But, alas, in English constipated means a totally different thing!

The confusion goes both ways. Like when Selena forgot the Spanish translation for “excited” and made “Me siento muy excited” a catchphrase.

These mishaps will happen so we may as well embrace them and get a chuckle out of it!