Latino Heritage Month

Today marks the beginning of Latino Heritage Month. In honor of the month long celebration of Latino culture, I am re-posting something I wrote last year.¬† Well, I am re-cycling the post for that reason, and the fact I am so overwhelmed with life right now that I haven’t had much time to blog.¬† But, with the weekend in sight, I may be able to put up a new post soon! Thanks for stopping by.

This past month has been a celebration of¬†Latino heritage. Latino Heritage ¬†Month¬†technically runs from September 15 to October 15.¬† Being Latina is a big part of who I am.¬†¬†During¬†most of my childhood, I¬†lived in a very diverse¬†community near Los Angeles.¬† In my neighborhood there were¬†Armenians, Japanese Americans,¬†Anglos, and people who looked like me. It wasn’t until I moved to a predominately white suburb that I¬†was aware that I¬†was different. During my first¬†days in the new school, my new classmates were naturally curious about the “new girl.”¬† They asked me “what I was.”¬† I wasn’t quite sure how to answer that question because I wasn’t really sure what they were asking, and I had never been asked that question before. I must have looked confused because the follow-up question was, “Are you Hawaiian…Italian… Indian?” Mexican wasn’t even an option.

I responded that I was Mexican, and then they asked if I was born in Mexico.

 Over the years I have been asked that question several more times, although it may not have been phrased the same way.   Depending on the circumstances I answered the questions in varying ways:

“I’m Mexican.”

“I’m Mexican American.”

“I’m Hispanic.”

“I’m¬† Latina.”

“I’m American, but of Mexican ancestry.”

“I was born in the U.S. but all of my grandparents were born in Mexico.”

Even though I wasn’t always certain what was the best way to answer that question, I still felt certain that I knew who I was and where my family was from. And I¬†felt proud of my heritage.¬† My parents and family raised me with pride in our heritage, and culture. At family¬†celebrations, ¬†I would watch my mother dance¬† the¬†Mexican folk dances she had learned as a young girl.¬†

I learned these dances too. I have had occasion to dance as an adult. 

I am so glad that some of these cultural lessons have been passed on to my children, my step-daughter Erica.

Diego, my youngest son, walked in the Latino Heritage parade last week. He marched with his classmates from his 1st grade¬†Spanish immersion program. He wore the hat typical of his father’s¬†native¬†country, Colombia.

This is what Latino heritage is all about. A celebration of who we are¬†and who are ancestors¬†were. I hope that when my kids are asked the question, “What are you?” They will¬†know how to answer,¬†and they will answer with pride.