Written by Scrappy Perez Friday, 10 September 2010 00:00
Living in America has kept me away from my own culture so long that I'm starting to forget it. What does being Latino/Hispanic mean to me? What have we contributed to the American public aside from reinforced border patrols and heartburn?
I guess I could talk about how influential we have been in the media. What would America be without the creative genius of Robert Rodriguez, Guillermo del Toro, or Pedro Almodóvar? Their movies have inspired and entertained millions! And what about the comedic talents of Horacio Sanz, Carlos Mencía, John Leguizamo and George López? Shakira, Celia Cruz and Jennifer López exposed many anglos to the Latin rhythm while others fell in love with Enrique Iglesias, Eva Longoria and Ricky Martin. Oh, Ricky… as long as I have a face you will always have a place to sit.
I could also recommend the top 10 Hispanic films of all time. These are all a MUST SEE: Pan's Labyrinth, All About My Mother, Like Water for Chocolate, Maria Full of Grace, The Devil's Backbone, Frida, The Motorcycle Diaries, Machuca, Abre Los Ojos and Kilometro Zero. Rent them, watch them and love me!
Maybe I could even offer a small guide on how to spot a Hispanic person. If an eightyear old boy is being chased by his mother with a sandal or “chancleta” down the street, they may be Hispanic. If you see a woman blending rice, beans and Goya beans into her baby's bottle, she may be Hispanic. If people keep telling your friend to stop yelling so much when in reality he's just talking, he may be Hispanic. If your girlfriend has more mustache hair than your father, she may be Hispanic. If your neighbor's name sounds something like “Carlos José Romero García de la Caridad de los Montes Rivera”, he may be Hispanic. And lastly, if you've ever been in a twopassenger car with over seven people in it who insist that more people fit in the car, then you may be Hispanic too.
But what does being Hispanic in America mean to me? I guess it could be a bigpuffy Quinceañera dress at the Hilton. It's tamales on Christmas Eve and receiving presents from “Los Tres Reyes Magos”. It's speaking 'Spanglish' and understanding it. It's remembering the struggles of past generations to have a shot at the American Dream today. It's even driving people crazy with our accent. Americans actually think it's so hot! The other day, I desperately tried to tell my American boyfriend something and he encouraged me to speak in Spanish by saying:
“No, bay…tell me in Spanish, please”
“OK, ¡me robaron el maldito carro coño!” (“They stole my damn car!” for those who don't speak Spanish)
“Ooooh, that's hot,” he says. If he only knew…
On a more serious note, remember that no matter how far away you are from your place of birth, when it comes to our heritage, all it takes is a song, a memory, or even a photograph to help us return to the one place that we have never really left behind.
Happy Hispanic Heritage month, bitches!