I wonder what a chief of the Taino tribe would say if he could see his people now. Would he recognize me as one of his own? Would his tribal tongue make sense of my broken Spanish? What if he could follow me around for an entire day? I imagine him standing behind me in class while I place a check next to a box that reads “Other”. I picture us walking home from school and the look on his face when he sees that my village is made up of concrete and brick. I like to pretend that at the end of that day he would break the language barrier; that he would put one hand on his chest, one hand on mine, and say, “Boricua”.
I am a Latino who was born and raised on the mainland United States. As a Latino in America there is a certain pride and spirituality that you carry with you. This same pride is what keeps tradition alive. It’s the reason my Abuela’s house smells like spices from Goya. It’s the reason there are festivals in the streets and flags hanging from windows. It lives in the mind of a child who doesn’t know what it tastes like to speak Spanish but is hungry to know.
We might live in a new land but there’s a reason flags from the old one wave here. It’s not political or rebellious, but what I like to call a cultural understanding. I can see it when I pass another Latino in the street and he gives me a quick nod. He doesn’t say a word but he doesn’t have to. It’s our way of telling each other, “I understand”. America is a land of struggle, victory, and the journey in between. For a young Latino, that journey means knowing where you come from and taking control of where you are going. It means living in a melting pot of cultures and still holding on to the traditions that were passed on by yours. That’s what it means to be a Latino in America.
Juan Caminero of Cleveland graduated from the city's Mc2 Stem High School last year and now attends Cuyahoga Community College, where he is exploring a major in the recording arts. He is of Puerto Rican and Dominican heritage. This essay won first place in a recent essay contest sponsored by the Hispanic Roundtable.
Hispanic Culture Essay
In the beginning, when it was said to my class that we were expected to right and ethnography. I had no idea what that was. Dr. Cairo began to explain to us what she did, what and anthropologist did, and, most importntly,what an ethnography was. First thing I thought to do my Ethnography on was a church or public place. My choice changed about three times but I finally choose to study a Hispanic Culture club here at SIUE (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville). I made this decision because I wanted to learn more about what Hispanic students that go to this school go through, what traditions do they practice, and what is thier family background. Another expirience that changed my topic is one that took place in Anthropolgy class. That week of class, Dr. Lee Mun Wah visited our school and gave a seminar on a very controversial topic, racism at universities around the country. Wah basically concluded that our generation, generations before us, and the future generations were following in the footsteps of our ancestors going all the way back to slavery. A young lady gave her opinion in class and stated that African Americans and Caucasians always made racism about black and white, in other words, one sided. She concluded that there was more to racism than blacks and white, and that many other cultures of people including Hispanics were involved in racism as well. Her opinion caused me to do some deep thinking. My main focus for choosing my topic was not fully supported. I was doing so becuase I have a Hispanic in my family background. A new focus was developed in my research and opinion. My observation, including my interviews took place on campus in the MUC (Morris University Center) in the Meridian Ball room.
In my reaserch and study, I wanted to take a straight forward appproach. I wanted to be honest with the people I interviewed and I wanted the same in return, honesty. Honesty is a strong wrong to refer to when you are talking about issues that have been "sugar coated" for so long. As an African American female, I know what forms of discriminaion and seperation I see everyday, but I wanted to know it from a deifferent perspective. In total, I spent about seven hours observing the cultural meetings and about three hours interviewing students (one hour each). I was very lucky to find three informing students with different backgrounds, values, traditions, and opinions. Their answers to my questions were very detailed. I learned alot not only from my interviewees but from my expirince as a whole.
Each day of observation, I spent two hours observing in the meetings. The first day, I felt very...
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