Perspective from the Past

On December 24th, 1979, Manuela with her grandson Luis spent the afternoon, cooking, laughing, talking, and tasting all the foods that would be served later for the Noche Buena feast. It is one of my most cherished memories.

That day would never be relived again.

On December 24th, 2021, her grandson Luis will be spending that afternoon cooking, laughing, talking, telling family stories before the Noche Buena feast with his familyThat day will be a reason to reminisce and celebrate all of the blessings I have lived ever since.

September 15th to October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage month.  This was first enacted by President Johnson as Hispanic Heritage week in 1968.  National Hispanic Heritage Month was first proclaimed by President George H. W. Bush on September 14, 1989 and we’ve been celebrating it ever since.

Evolving Identities and Why They Matter

In Spanish, the term, “hispanohablante” refers to anyone – Latino or not, who speaks Spanish.  Latina/o refers to individuals who come from Latin American countries and the Caribbean with a gender reference and a male gender dominance as it refers to mixed gender groups, no matter the ratio – for example, 99 women and 1 man as a group, are referred to as a group of Latinos.

Hispanic is a term often used by some Gen X and mostly older generations used to identify as having roots from Latin America/Caribbean. Latina/o, gender specific, is the most common term to identify as having roots in Latin America/Caribbean.  Latinx is a gender-neutral term to identify Latin peoples individually or in a group setting. Chicano is Mexican American specific and there is an evolving identity and conversation revolving the use of the term Chicano, some say the term is dying out.  For the record, this Gen X baby identifies as Chicanx.  Boricua denotes people hailing from Puerto Rico. Afro Latino denotes people of African and Latin American ancestry and is also being referred to as Afro Latinx by persons most often younger than I.  Obviously, this list is by no means all inclusive, however it is important to understand what these terms generally mean within the Latinx community for those not fully familiar with these terms.

Now that we got all of that out of the way, whew, let’s move on.

Diversity Inclusion is the Emerging Rule

The term Hispanic, while gender neutral has evolved to denote the imperialism and suffering imposed by the Spanish on the peoples of Latin America to many younger Americans. Many people find this offensive.

Latinos see themselves separately from the Spanish in Spain.  They are mixed.  They come from many countries, dialects, traditions and cultures.   For the majority, the term Latino fixes the issues with the use of the term Hispanic.  The current emergence of the term Latinx is evolving and not fully integrated by older generations.

To put it short, Hispanic is as offensive to some as Latinx is offensive to others.  There is pushback on both ends of the spectrum and my question is, should there be? In short, no.

We Grow from Our Past

Without my grandmother, I would not be the person that I am. I am not the same person I was soooo many years ago.  I will celebrate this Christmas with my daughters without forgetting where I came from and loving them for who they are in the present.

All of this is a net positive.  I look forward to as many Christmases with them as I am given in this life.

We learn from the past and grow from it while managing those lessons presently, today, as in,…now.  We change our minds about life as we experience it through the perspective of time and growth. This is life.

We live, we learn, we grow, and we evolve… to be better, feelings matter, inclusivity matters.  This is, in my opinion, how life should be.

Just because a particular past is not your past, doesn’t make it any less relevant to those who lived it. Just because the present has caused many to live, learn, grow and evolve in ways that may seem unfamiliar does not make one unwelcome to the present-day party.  And so, I invite us to all have a seat at this big, beautiful table and make sure everyone as they identify, is served.

Being in the middle of all this change, I am grateful to live it in all its beautiful diversity as Latinx/Chicanx.  I will revere where all of that came from.

I will celebrate with you.

Let us all invite each other in teaching the lessons of kindness, humility, sincerity and compassion that we become better as individuals and as a society. Together, we are better for having each other to learn from, grow with and evolve.

This is, in my eyes, what is worth celebrating.

Somos, a community.  Somos united.  Somos, better for who, we as a community, are becoming.  Somos, reasons to celebrate all that we have brought to the present while we never forget our past, all the while creating new opportunities for the future…everyone’s future.   This truly is worth celebrating by sharing ourselves, our language, our traditions, our cultures with others and accepting that of others while they share of themselves.  This is an American story, and it is ours to live.

*Somos – we are