Latina Beat

Our chicas share what it means to be a Latina and so much more.

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Want to write for Latinitas Magazine? Contact Jasmine at editor@latinitasmagazine.org.


 

QUINCE It’s your day! The quinceañera has been a tradition for many generations, but today’s quinces are not your mother’s traditional quinceañeras. Today, Latinitas push the limits of this coming of age celebration with new and exciting trends. With elaborate dresses and themes, this day is as diverse as the girls who put them on. What’s your story? Does your quince stay true to traditional customs? Are you adding new twists to this tradition? Tell us about your special day.

 

CULTURE Looking for writing, poetry and essays that describe or reflect cultural history, traditions, holidays and experiences. Submit stories on how you express your culture and what you know about the origin of your family. First person stories of how you define your culture are welcome!

 

MI BARRIO Where we live and how we see it tells so much about ourselves. Mi Barrio invites writers to submit profiles of the neighborhoods, towns, cities, states and even countries of origin. Include the name of the place, Tell us what you like to do for fun there, what makes your hometown special, what is the weather like, are there any special landmarks there? What is the history of your hometown. What type of hometown do you live in? (urban, rural) Why do you like it? What can visitors do in your hometown?

 

FAMILIA As Latinitas, we have a diverse background. Some of our families have been here for generations and we can trace back our roots to some of the earliest Spanish settlers. Others of us can remember our journey crossing over to a new country. Ask your parents, Tias and abuelos to get a better idea of how your family came to the U.S.A. Write an essay describing your family’s story of coming to America.

 

PASSPORT Travel writers, here is your forum. Describe a trip you have gone on. For stories outside the U.S. tell us the following: an interesting fact (geography, animals), famous figure and entertainer that lives there, who is the current president of that country, what is the capital, languages spoken, currency used, what continent is it on. Also tell us three things that you were able to do at this travel destination that you couldn’t do in your hometown. What foods would you suggest that are native to this place? What new lingo did you learn at your travel destination? Describe a favorite memory of the trip. Finish this statement: If you visit this travel destination, you absolutely have to…What unique customs did you learn while visiting? Lastly answer, when travelling to this place, don’t forget to pack your….

 

MUNDO NEWS Share your feedback or connection to a major news story? Were you hit with an earthquake? Are you fascinated with Central American politics? Do you have something to say about a national issue. Send us your research, thoughts and in some way, connect it to being Latina.

 


Read one of our articles below!

From El Paso to Califas: Pachuco Subculture  by Veronica Martinez

The iconic chuca and chuco look can still be seen today, and this iconic trend is more than a fashion statement. There’s a rich history, like the Zoot Suit riots, that is tied to the pachuco and pachuca subcultures. A chuco or pachuco is a subculture that started in Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, TX– neighboring border cities. The subculture started in El Paso in the 1930’s and later on moved up to California, especially in Los Angeles. Along with other cultural trends, the pachucos led to creating a slang of Mexican spanish, caló, and helped pave the way for the Chicano Movement.

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Photo Credit: https://www.kcet.org/departures-columns/seventy-years-later-the-zoot-suit-riots-and-the-complexity-of-youth-culture

Pachucos were often seen in zoot suits, these were very oversized pants and coats, and were often called zooters. The clothes were inspired by the 1920’s Chicago gangsters. Chucos were often associated with gangs, although most of them were not related to any illicit activities. The clothes were more about the trend and for dancing. It would have been very hard to dance to the music emerging from swing and bebop of the 1940’s in tight pants.

When the pachuco trend started, the trend also led to questioning one’s identity. Being bicultural has always been difficult for Mexican-Americans. Si no eres de aqui ni eres de ella, so how do you prove your American pride? Chicano boys signed up for the army during WWII as much as the Anglo boys did.According to Senator Robert Mendez, more than 9,000 Latinos died during World War II. However, statistics are problematic because, unlike African Americans that served in segregated units, Latinos were counted with the white males that served.

Now, about the chucas. These girls were tough, ok? In the way that they were cool, strong and non-traditional girls. Since girls were expected to stay at home, chucas defied society’s standards and would often go out and spend time with their Mexican-American boyfriends and other chucas and chucos. Women were constantly told by their mothers that they should stay at home, out of trouble, and out of those short skirts.

Chucas broke a lot of the social rules during this era. Women, at least a respectable woman, was expected to be at home, but pachucas often appeared in public with their boyfriends and wore loose pants like their male counterparts. Yeah, stay home flipping tortillas? No, thanks.

The history of chucos and chucas are an important part of our Mexican-American culture. The next time you see the word “zoot suit,” know that it’s not just a piece of clothing. It is a way of life that helped pave the way for Mexican-Americans in the U.S.

How My Tía Became My College Goals

Lindsy Castillo

Lindsy Castillo

Written by Lindsy Castillo

As a kid, everybody had somebody to look up to as their role model, such as Superman or a Disney princess. Even though there was a time that I had wanted to be Cinderella, I later realized that somebody even better and closer to me would be my role model: my aunt, Jazmin.

When my aunt graduated high school, she had her mind set on going to a good college and pursuing her dreams of majoring in the psychology field. I recall her always calling to check up on the family. I would often talk to her, despite the fact that I was in preschool. There was a time that my family and I went to go visit her, and I thought that it was really cool that she lived with friends out of town while she went to school. I remember seeing how much fun she had and I suddenly became curious about attending college.

As things came up, she ended up leaving before she could finish school, so she decided to come back home and get a job. I was happy when she came back home. Even though once in a while I would obtain an attitude with her or get mad at simple things, such as the color she would fill in the butterfly on my coloring book, I would mostly have a good time with her.

After working with children, she decided that she would attend and finish school once again at the University of Texas at El Paso for a degree in education. Once my 5th grade year had started, she also began attending school. I was excited for her because I had always overheard her discussing with my mom and grandmother about going back and finishing college. Once she began to attend college again, she got very busy with homework and classes, which I secretly didn’t like. I knew that she was doing this because she had a passion for working with children and wanted to overcome statistics for young Latinas. I noticed that she was really committed and into what she was learning. She went above and beyond to make sure that none of the grades in her class were average or mediocre.

All the hard work has paid off. She is now a teacher at a middle school in El Paso, Texas. She is a teacher and is a first generation graduate from my family, which makes me really proud for her. It is obvious that she loves what she does. She’s always talking about how proud she is of her students, and how much progress is being made. There’s never a moment that she doesn’t think of her class. She could see the smallest toy, and say, “Oh that’s a character from one of my student’s favorite show.” I think that it’s amazing that she takes the time to get to know every one of her students, outside of schoolwork that is shown.

I think what inspires me the most about her is that she has never allowed sexism or racism to become an obstacle that she’d face during her college years. She believes that anybody that tries, believes in themselves, and has the right mindset can accomplish their dreams and goals. Whenever I think about giving up, I think of how she got things done and stayed committed to focusing on her career. Just the fact that I know that she tried her hardest and pushed herself past her limit makes me want to finish school and try my hardest at the things that I do. I want to go to college because of her, and because I think that it’s my responsibility as a teenage girl with a Mexican background to show people who doubt certain races or sexes that it can be done.

Preparing for College

Preparing for college requires more than motivation to go to school. It is important to take control of being able to have a good balance in everything. I like to go and talk to my teachers for each subject and see if I have any missing assignments or low grades that I can make up. If I have questions for my teachers, I make sure that I ask before the assignment or test is due. Taking control shows initiative on one’s own part. Not only does it help, but it feels amazing to know that everything is done and out of the way.

Another thing that I think will be crucial is not losing sight of what goals and dreams are being set. I’ve heard of a few people that just give up on college and end up regretting it later. I believe that if something is in the process of being done, it might as well be finished. A few distractions probably won’t be worth quitting something that is a passion.

Mi Familia: Grandma Jenny

My Great-grandma Jenny has always been a role model for me. Every Wednesday she heads over to Juarez, where she has her ministry Jehova Proveera Ministerio. As a ministry rather than a church, Jehova Proveera Ministerio  not only teaches the Word, but also provides those in poverty with necessities like food and clothing. On occasion, treats might also be provided. On Christmas, for example, toys are given to the children, and there is a large feast.

“People are looking for hope. They need it,” my grandma claims. “But a lot of people want hand-me-outs from places that don’t teach the Word.”

For my grandma, scripture has always been her source of inspiration and direction in life. 34 years ago, when the ministry began, it was a series of Bible verses that convinced her that beginning the ministry was God’s will.

The idea to alleviate the less fortunate came from the common Biblical theme to help those in need.

“We went to church and were following the teachings of Jesus,” my grandma attributed.

At first my great-grandma and her husband Ray Tapia helped another ministry. During those years there were “more pure people. And they were hungry. They needed clothes.”

Seeing the tragic reality, my grandma prayed that  “God would take us to Juarez,” and that “Jesus would let us know by scripture that it was okay to start the ministry.”

These verses led Grandma Jenny and Grandpa Ray to believe that God has given His consent, the first being found on a certificate my great-grandpa earned in a church group:

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

                                                                                            -II Corinthians 5:18-20

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

                                                                                                      -James 2:15-17

 

When my grandparents set out to start the ministry, a woman from one of the ministries they worked with told them that they could have their “ministry here in the outdoors.”

Up went the chairs, picnic tables, and groups of volunteers. Eventually, a building with a large room for worship, a bathroom, kid’s room, and a kitchen, would be built.

Although finding enough money to build or buy supplies for the ministry can be difficult, and transporting goods across the border can be a hassle, my grandma says that “God has [always] supplied for us. People always donate.”

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“One of the ministries that helped us was [the] YouthWorks Foundation [of Minnesota],” my grandma remembers. “[The] Youth stopped coming because of the shootings (in Juarez). Parents were concerned. But they (the youth volunteers) were the primary constructors.” In fact, it was the youth who built the ministry that stands today. Young people often told my grandma that they would volunteer to help educate others, but ended up being the ones who learned the true meaning of faith.

“They (individuals whom live in poverty) were happy even though they had nothing. The people were very grateful. It made us happy to see them come for the Word of God on their own.” Grandma Jenny testifies. She suggests that if you want to help a cause, you “need to go visit and see first-hand.”

Ever since she began the ministry, my grandma has “more peace” and can “see the potential in people and what they can do if they trust God.” As a teenager, she considered herself average.

“I didn’t finish high school because I wanted a job to buy nice clothes. I got married early,” my grandma laughs, regretting that she never completed her education. Education is something she values highly now, striving for each child in the ministry to have the chance to attend school.

There are about 50 children in all. Half in elementary, and half in junior high. The junior high students go to class in the morning and get out in time for lunch. Afterward, the elementary students go for their schooling, coming back later in the afternoon. Thus, every year, my grandma fundraises for uniforms and school supplies for each of these children.

On a typical day, the first thing my grandma and her four helpers (a cook and three other volunteers. Originally, my great-grandpa was the pastor, but after he died, a pastor comes and does the preaching and music.) do is discipleship and worship, which involves guitar and piano-based Christian music. Then, the children go to Bible study while the adults listen to the preaching. Afterward, the children are fed first, before or after school (depending on the time they go.). The adults are then fed and given a sack of beans, rice, and manseca (corn meal) each, for the remainder of the week.

“The Lord has been good to us. We love the people and they love Him. That’s what makes it work,”my grandma explains. That is the message she wants to instill in future generations. If you want to make a difference, you need motivation, and you’ll need to love God. For love conquers all.

My grandma has that kind of love and passion. While some people think that people join her ministry just to eat, my grandma sees it differently. What she sees is people who are not only physically, but spiritually hungry. When they are shown love through the way God’s people provide for them physically, they inevitably feel love for God Himself.

Rape Culture in Hispanic Communities

Teens holding handsYou will not find a single family sitcom that does not have at least one episode dedicated to “the talk.” The likelihood of flipping through the TV channels late at night and stumbling upon a scene of a teenager in 1980’s acid-wash jeans, having a heart-to-heart about the birds and the bees with their shoulder-padded parent, is much greater than your chance of being struck by lightning. The chances that this conversation would be taking place in a Hispanic household, though? Not so great.

In the Hispanic culture, discussing sex with your child is seen widely as taboo, or inappropriate. For many Hispanic youth, the uncomfortable acknowledgement of a transition from childhood to young adulthood is made only in the form of a short statement: be careful. These two simple words mean something too simple when told to a son; be careful not to get her pregnant. Yet when told to a daughter, their meaning changes drastically from advice to warning. For a Hispanic woman, ten cuidado often translates to, “Be careful… not to show too much. Be careful… not to give the wrong idea. Be careful… not to get raped.”

Sexual assault is an issue that affects innocent women across all cultures. In the United States, 1 in 5 women, both Hispanic and non-Hispanic, are sexually assaulted during their lifetime. The collection of behaviors and attitudes that encourage or allow for that staggering statistic to exist is referred to as rape culture.

There are specific challenges that Hispanic women face, which perpetuate rape culture and the rate of sexual assault. For example, while Hispanic women are not assaulted more frequently than non-Hispanic women, they are more likely to be assaulted by a spouse or intimate partner. In the Hispanic culture, a woman’s primary role is traditionally thought to be as the homemaker, a wife and a mother. There is nothing wrong with a woman choosing to devote all of her attention to her family. But the key word here is “choice.” According to the Women of Color Network, 8% of Latinas are sexually assaulted by a spouse or partner during their lifetime. In many of these situations, a woman will not seek help or report the assault, because there is so much pressure on Hispanic women to comply with their husbands, or with men in general.

As awful and inexcusable as sexual assault is, it does happen. So while the many causes that lead to sexual assault should still be addressed, it is also important the after-effects of sexual assault be addressed as well. Resources that offer counseling, medical and legal help to victims of sexual assault are important to one’s recovery. If it weren’t difficult enough for victims to seek out this type of assistance, (giving a testimony of a sexual assault forces the victim to experience the same emotional trauma all over again, a reason why 80% of all sexual assaults go unreported) language barriers pose additional headaches. “Many rape crisis centers do not have a Spanish-speaking advocate available,” says the Office of Victims of Crimes, “so the phrase ‘I’m sorry I don’t speak Spanish’ may be the only response many Spanish-speaking victims receive.” With 41 million native Spanish speakers living in the U.S. today, the demand for bilingual resource centers is great, and the supply of them is small.

The problem of sexual assault and rape culture, especially in Hispanic communities, is present, and goes far beyond this article. And though a solution will not come overnight, countering rape culture can begin with informing each other on the importance of consent, with teaching young men not to rape, instead of teaching young women not to get raped, and with making victims feel brave and supported when they decide to share their experiences with sexual assault, not judged or blamed. This topic of conversation is not pleasant, and it is not comfortable. But if I have learned anything from sitcom episodes about “the talk,” is that healthy, open discourse usually ends in understanding, improvement, and the applause of a live studio audience.

Sightseeing: Ciudad Juárez

Ciudad Juárez, Mexico is a huge city. Historically, it is the place where the adelitas were born, where the invention of the burrito was made and the place in which Margaritas were first drunk. For many of the habitants of this city, it is the home of great talents recognized as important celebrities such as Juan Gabriel, Tin Tan and even the great Ramon from El Chavo. But does it really have places for tourists? We present you some of the attractions of this beautiful city, full of hidden stories and vitality of its people.

GASTRONOMY
One of the main attractions of Juárez is the richness of its platillos. The place where the first burrito was made couldn’t be left without recognition. We have a couple of places for you to go in case you are visiting Juárez and want to taste the magnificence of its culture. The first place is called Burritos Crisostomo. This burrito market is one of the most renown among the citizens of Juárez for its delicious guisados and its quick service for customers. There’s also Burritos Ximichú, which is known for its gigantic burritos and its famous food contests among the Juarenses. These burritos have almost the same guisados as Crisostomo, but their taste can be identified for its uniqueness.

Juarez also has Flautas La Pila, which is well known for its urban environment at the center of the city. This Flautas place has quite a fame that even Juarenses say you haven’t been in Juarez if you haven’t eaten at this place.

If you are craving tacos, Tacos Ajiji has the best tacos. These tacos are the most famous among Juarenses because of their pure taste. Plus, the restaurant has an enjoyable environment! If you are driving a car, be aware that you will have difficulty finding a parking place. The place is always a reventar. By looking at the delicious piña or buche at Ajiji, it’s no a wonder why many people enjoy tacos from Ajiji.

CULTURE AND HISTORY
History in Ciudad Juarez is quite rich because of the important personalities that have stepped on this land. The city is named after Benito Juárez, one of the most recognized presidents of Mexico. This land was his refugee throughout the war of Reforma. Legend says the battle was quite a triumph, and during the battle it was necessary for Benito to stay in Juárez for his own sake; without the support of the city, he wouldn’t have succeeded during the war and we would probably still be under the domains of the church.

There’s so much history in Juarez, but there are a couple of landmarks that you have to visit, like the Casa de Adobe. This house is where Francisco I Madero became Provisional president during the Revolutionary War of Mexico. It is an important point of reference to the region itself and to the country for being the home of the intellectual who wanted to take away power from the dictator Porfirio Diaz. Known as “Rancho de las Flores” back then, the Casa de Adobe is a landmark where the whole maderista camp was settled and reunions were made. Now, it is a free admission museum decorated with all kinds of artifacts. Tourists can come to the museum and appreciate the place that once was the home of such important people to the Mexican Revolution.

Casa de Adobe is indeed a historical place, but let me tell you that this isn’t the only place where history is manifested. If you are a reader and you love to spend time reading a good book, we recommend that you go to the biggest library in Chihuahua: Biblioteca Central Carlos Montemayor at Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ). It is a public library which consists of more than 3,000 books and even more in its online catalog.

Another fun place to visit is La Rodadora. This one of a kind museum has been recognized as one of the most important and dynamic museums of all Latin America, chicas! It is intended for kids to learn by playing and interacting with the environment by listening and acquiring a first sensory experience!

SPORTS AND OUTDOOR AREAS
If museums aren’t your thing, there are wonderful sports and outdoor areas to enjoy, like the Stadium Benito Juárez. A good thing about Stadium Benito Juarez, besides being a place for football,soccer and athletics development, is that it is next to Parque Borunda. This place is known for its amazing jueguitos,which is the small version of a fair in Juarez. It also has carritos chocones in case you feel like driving and crashing into your friends. It is also known for its puestesitos of food and toys. Elotes, raspas and even chilindrinas are found at this small fair. It is a fun place to be if you want to hang out with your friends and eat something traditional from the city.

Another place to check out is the Central Park next to the Bachilleres gym. It is the biggest park in Ciudad Juarez and full of things to do! It has a main building where workshops from different activities are held, a library where you can find books with various topics (from university works to children stories) and art exhibitions from tarahumaras who have workshops about the customs of their culture. It is also the place for many events in Juarez, such as fairs, clown shows, and CONADE events (athletic organization), as well as government meetings. The peculiar thing about this park is that there are animals inside the park. They pass through every corner of the park at all time. Central Park has become their habitat, girls. These animals include ducks, gooses and even colored peacocks.

Juárez has a vibrant culture and atmosphere. From exquisite Mexican food to historically rich places, Juarez is an amazing city.

Latina Beat: Proud of My Culture

Butterfly logoItzel and Bianca share why they’re proud to Latinas:

“I’m always proud to show off my Hispanic pride. I have a white complexion, so people don’t think that I am hispanic — even though I’m 100% Latina. We have a very beautiful culture, full of bright vivid colors and amazing food. Growing up in a U.S.-Mexico border community, I never saw prejudice or racism towards our race/culture until I left my hometown to attend college. It was a shocking experience as I saw some of my friends get treated differently just because they looked more Hispanic than I do. I’ve had people complain to me about Hispanics without realizing that they’re complaining about Hispanics to a Hispanic. It’s hard to believe that these types of acts still occur and are very relevant in the world today. However, I don’t believe in focusing on the negative but focusing on the positive and all the amazing things hispanics are doing in their communities. We are making a name for ourselves and demanding that our voice be heard. There will always be prejudice unfortunately but we must never let that affect the pride that we have within our culture and race.” – Bianca Duran, 20
“I was born and raised in a place where two different cultures meet: La frontera. La Frontera, the zone where the United States and Mexico come face to face with each other. This is where I’ve spent all of my life and where I’ve been privileged enough to be part of these two distinct cultures that, here at the border, turn into a unique one. With both Mexican and American traditions and with both the English and Spanish language, this mixed and unique culture has given me the best of both worlds. Which is why I see myself as being both a Mexican and an American. I am very proud of belonging to a group of people who share both cultures at the same time.

Being part of both worlds has given me the opportunity of being bilingual; Of mixing languages and being able to communicate in English with certain people and Spanish. It has giving me the opportunity of feeling proud about my ancestors who fought hard to build a beautiful nation like Miguel Hidalgo, or Pancho Villa. As well as being proud of those who crossed over and fought for our rights here in this country, like Dolores Huerta. It also gives me the opportunity to celebrate 4th of July in the summer and months later for 16 de Septiembre! I love being able to practice Mexican traditions, like Día de los Muertos, and then to practice American ones as well.

Not only am I proud of having a Mexican identity, but mostly of having a Mexican American identity and of being from la frontera. My culture here, at the border, has influenced me into feeling like I belong to this special little world; where both cultures mix to form one, and where I truly get the best of both worlds.” – Itzel Ibarra, 24

Mi Quinceañera Chapina

Photo courtesy from http://quinceanera.com.

Photo courtesy from http://quinceanera.com.

At first, I didn’t want a fiesta, but my mom would not allow it. “My mama had a Quince, I had a Quince, y tu mijita, you will have one too! Trust me, you will thank me later,” she said to me. And so I boarded a plane to Guatemala and took a crash course in all things Catholic; three months later, I was kneeling in front of a padre receiving my blessing. There was a big party, lots of food, and so much dancing! While my quinceañera was probably the best day of my life, I didn’t think it was anything too extravagant. It was inexpensive and simple in comparison to the fiestas celebrated aqui en los Estados. Or so I thought…

My cousin, whom I had grown very close to in my few months while visiting, confided in me: “This has got to be the biggest party we will see around here for a while. No one has ever done something like this here before. Or had a doll like that,” she said pointing to my ultima muñeca. That day, I gave my cousin the doll, but she gave me a wake-up call.

La Tradicion Chapina

In Guatemala, traditional Quinceañeras are a bit different than the ones here, take a look at the schedule:

  • The day starts at 5am. Imagine waking up to what sounds like a million gun shots. Don’t worry, those are just the fire crackers your family has ignited right outside your porch.
  • They are immediately followed by a much more pleasant, less-frightening, sound. A serenata! A serenade during which mariachis, a marimba group, or family alone will sing Las Mañanitas to the birthday girl.
  • There is a long day up ahead, so the familia and the musicos enjoy a big breakfast consisting of café con pan, tamales, etc.
  • The cooking and getting ready begins after breakfast, which lasts almost all day.
  • It’s not until 7pm when the church rings the bells and the entire town starts heading over to mass. During the mass the girl receives her blessing and reconfirms her faith.
  • She is presented as a woman at the reception, where there is a toast and the familiar food and dance celebration happens! The night comes to an end when the guest can eat and dance no more.

Some of the significant differences between a traditional Guatemalan Quinceañera and those in the U.S. are:

  • There are no chambelanes. The Quinceañera has 14 damas, preferably ages 1-14, to symbolize the different stages of her life.
  • Dresses are pastel pink, baby blue, or Pastel yellow.
  • Padrinos are not customary.
  • The presentation usually does not consist of the crowning of the birthday girl, the changing of the Zapatillas, or the presentation of the last doll.

Guatemalan Quinceañeras have a traditional structure, they vary depending on many factors – money, heritage, religion, social preferences and, ultimately, the girl.

It is Really About You

In the United States, Quinceañeras, for the most part, seem to have lost their meaning. The more expensive the better, the more scandalous the more memorable. In “Sweet 15” Pamela Colloff of the Texas Monthly  writes, “…there has been a cultural shift over the past few decades; in previous generations, families of modest means threw simple quinceañeras or just declined to have them. Now it is common for middle-class and working-class families to throw extravaganzas, relying on a network of relatives and friends to help them foot the bill.”

“I didn’t have one. Mainly because my parents couldn’t afford one. My mom felt so bad because she couldn’t give me a regular one,” says Angela Bonilla, 20.

“I still remember what my father would say when I was 14, ‘Para que? You know people will only gossip about how the food was bad, and the party will end when the borrachos start fighting,'” shares Betty Arreola, 25.

There is no right or wrong way to celebrate your coming of age, chica. Whether you have a “traditional” quince, small party, or a large gathering, the most important part is YOU. Quinceańeras are not a competition; your quince is a day to celebrate you. When the day gets here, enjoy the party, give thanks to your family and friends, but most importantly celebrate it according to your values and your wants. If you do so, it is guaranteed to be a night that you will never forget.

A Corrido

You may have heard a corrido on the radio, on your father’s cds, or even from your grandfather whistling. These narrative songs, extremely popular amongst the Latino population, are widely known and recognized by many due to their universal themes and poetic lyrics. While these corridos all vary in popularity, they have served as an outlet, both presently and historically, for the Latino population to express themselves in a creative way about their history, culture and current events.

First of all, what exactly is a corrido? A corrido is a song genre found in many parts of Latin America such as: Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Mexico. This song genre describes a social, political and religious event shared by the Latino community and in many ways offers an outlet for people to celebrate, understand and share these events in an artistic way. A corrido is typically very structured and can usually be divided into five parts. It first begins with an introduction from the singer announcing that he will be singing a corrido. Secondly, the singer shares information and describes the main character of the song. Thirdly, an action presents the character, followed by an introductory farewell and lastly, the final farewell, also known as la despedida. Following this specific structure, these songs serve as a way to tell a story or a legend about an important person, historical event or religious occurrence in the form of poetry in a way that is easily identifiable and very comprehensible.

Escobedo_CorridoDeLaPersecusionDePanchoVilla_1938_M_MTRThe more popular and widespread corridos are those from Mexico, particularly those dealing with Mexican history. These songs can be dated back to the 1800’s and are most often associated with the Mexican Revolution. For example, the popular singsong for young children called  “La Cucaracha” at one time was used by the revolutionary hero, Fransico “Pancho” Villa, and his soldiers to rally against President Victoriano Huerta. Today, the song can be compared to a nursery rhyme or a fun sing-a-long but its traditional lyrics are loaded with political symbolism that reflect the social and political events of that time in history. Interesting, huh?

While there are many traditional folk songs that tell about Mexico’s history, today, corridos describe very important aspects of Mexican culture. They are important in sharing and dealing with issues such as: border-town life, special events, drug-related problems and religious stories. Recently, it has become a popular way for people to share a very dark story about the state of Mexico.  What has resulted is a genre that follows the same structure as a traditional corrido but deals with contemporary issues such as drugs and topics related to the drug war called narcocorridos. While the style and sound are drastically different from a traditional corrido, the song describes events that many people in border towns and in Mexico experience on a daily basis. This way, they not only tell a tragic story but they also express hardships in order to connect with an audience that is able sympathize.

In this way, corridos have served as a way of expressing oneself about an event, a person, or religious event in the form of music. While the musical part is important, the words are the ones to convey the real message of the song. The lyrics, many times, tell about hardships and people overcoming adversity. In many ways, these songs serve as a way of therapy, not only for the composer but also for the listener. Corridos serve as a way for people to find an outlet to connect with others and share experiences that directly affect people like them. So the next time you sing a song or listen to a song that you think may be a corrido, look for the clues and try to understand the REAL message.

Police Brutality and Coverage in the Latin@ Community

On February 15, 2016 Antonio Zambrano-Montes was shot in Pasco, Washington. Zambrano-Montes was shot and killed by three Pasco Police Officers. Some might recall the video of Zambrano-Montes’s encounter with the police circulating through the media, which followed the height of the Black Lives Matter movement sparked by the death of another individual shot by the police, Michael Brown.

The Black Lives Matter movement made significant strides to garner attention towards the injustice committed. But, for the Latino community, how does police brutality affect us?  While the shooting in Pasco is not an isolated incident for the Latino community, the impact of this incident shares similarities with the systemic racism and racial tensions of Ferguson. Ferguson is sixty-seven percent black but its police force and government officials majority white, similarly Pasco is fifty-six percent Latino yet the majority of government and law enforcement officials are white. Even though both communities differ, the racial tension for both is worth considering. Including the reaction from both communities after each event. When Brown was shot and killed at the hands of police officers, many citizens from all over the country took to the streets in protest. Soon the hashtags #ferguson #blm and #justiceformikebrown were trending globally. The reaction to the Pasco shooting wasn’t nearly as significant to the one in Ferguson, but, for some, the lack of coverage and significant protests against police brutality in the Latino community poses an issue.

“Is it that we didn’t hear about it or that Latinos didn’t care about it?” added Georgina Perez.

“Why can’t we get the same type of coverage or help?” Kris Ramirez said, echoing the same sentiments when her brother was shot by LAPD in 2014.

A study from Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, showed that Latinos comprise less than one percent of total news media coverage, the small coverage that feature Latinos are often portrayed as criminals.

“Violence or discrimination against Latinos does not tend to resonate among most Americans because Latinos are generally not perceived as Americans but recent immigrants or foreigners with no deep roots and histories in the U.S.,” Frances Negrón-Muntaner, the center’s director, said in an interview with The Huffington Post.

The lack of coverage of Latinos shot and killed by police is not an indicator that this isn’t happening. Statistics on the killings committed by police officers are not only hard to find but are also inconsistent. Even so people have crowdsourced information to keep some form of record of police killings. According to research done by Al Dia news, at least 714 people were killed by law enforcement in 2015. 105 of those killed were identified as Latino. 16 of those Latinos were unarmed while 19 showed signs of mental illness.  In fact, according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Latinos are 30 percent more likely to be killed by police than average (right after Native Americans and African Americans).

The reason behind so much coverage of any shooting or incident with the police lies in the hands of the people. People’s involvement can become so significant the the general news media cannot ignore their voices. The issues we face today can receive more coverage if we use social media to voice our concerns of crimes against our own community. But, we shouldn’t just be outspoken of the crimes against us. Sharing positive news of our own community, of working alongside others, also helps empower our narrative as Latin@s.

Celebrating Culture in Music

Mexican culture itself is unique, colorful, vibrant and expressive. Singers often share their cultural background through music. Through their music, these artists tell new generations about the history, daily life, and/or  his/her dreams  and/or culture.

Ana Lila Downs Sánchez, best known as Lila Downs, blends Mexican and American cultures together in her music.  She is a talented American–Mexican singer-songwriter and actress, and her talent is to mix Mexican traditional and popular music. Her unique touch is to incorporate indigenous Mexican influences, such as Mixtec, Zapotec, Mayan, Nahuatland Purépecha.

Her use of language showcases the landscape of Mexico.According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Mexico is the 14th largest country in the world, with an approximate  population of 122.3. Spanish is the predominant language among Mexicans and is spoken by 92.7 percent of the Mexican population. An estimated 6 percent of the population speaks Spanish and indigenous languages, such as Mayan, Nahuatl and other regional languages.

Lila was born and raised in Oaxaca, Mexico where she studied at the Institute of Arts by Oaxaca. Later, she briefly attended the University of Minnesota. However, her passion for music was bigger, therefore, she decided to focus on her musical career. Wherever Lila goes deja bocas abiertas with her innovating style that captures traditional Mexican music and new musical trends. She has performed at well known venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, both located in New York City. Lila was invited to sing at the White House to perform on the 75th Annual Academy Awards and Latin Grammy Awards in 2012.

Lila Downs is a real life example of how to success in the music industry can happen without sacrificing your cultural background. Always remember and be proud of where you come from, always aim high, and do not let stereotypes or negative comments about your culture bring you down.