Category Archives: wisdom

Flores Olvidadas

[English Translation below]

Hay un arbusto en nuestra yarda – mi mamá me lo dio unos años atras. El arbusto, por la mayoría del año, no es nada especial – lo ignoramos… hasta que esta época del año cuando salen los capullos bien redonditos. Ahora lo observamos con anticipación porque sabemos que unas flores bien grandes y lindas con un olor fuerte y dulce van a salir muy pronto.

Recientemente, yo estaba tan ocupada, tan apresurada y distraída, que olvidé completamente de mi arbustito y los capullos que estaban abriendo poco a poco.

Ayer por la tarde, cuando yo estaba lavando los platos de la cena, mi mente ya corría con millones de cosas que tengo que hacer, mi hijito entraba la cocina con una flor en la mano.

Mi primer pensamiento fue: ¿Y qué es esto? ¿Cómo floricían tan rapido? ¿Estaba yo realmente tan ocupada que se me había olvidado de tomar un momentito por chequearlas?

Mi segundo pensamiento fue: ¡Ay! Y mira este niño travieso ya ha arruinado el arbusto! Ni la cortó bien! Casi no hay nada de tronco en esta flor!

Mi hijo me dio la flor a mí. “La corté para tí”, dijo, mirándome con sus grandes ojos cafes y una sonrisa nerviosa.

Tomé una respiración profunda, le dí un abrazo y pusé la flor en un vaso pequeño. Estoy agradecida que no lo castigue. Después de todo, me hubiera perdido de ver las flores en absoluto si él no me hubiera recordado de ellas.

Supone que debo ser la que debo criar y enseñar a mis hijos, pero a veces son ellos los que me enseñan a mí.

English Translation:

Forgotten Flowers

There’s a bush in our yard – my mother gave it to me years ago. The bush, for most of the year – is nothing special – we ignore it… until this time of year when perfect little round buds emerge. Now we observe the bush with anticipation because we know the bush will soon give forth big, beautiful flowers with a sweet perfume.

Recently, I’ve been so busy, so hurried and distracted, that I forgot completely about my little bush and the buds that have been opening little by little.

Yesterday evening, while I was washing the dinner plates, my mind already running with a million things I need to do, my youngest son came into the kitchen with a flower in his hand.

My first thought was: And what is this? How did they bloom so quickly? Was I really that busy that I forgot to take even a small moment to check on them?

My second thought was: Oh! Look at this naughty child – he’s already ruined the bush! He didn’t even cut it well! There’s almost no stem on this flower!

My son handed me the flower. “I picked it for you,” he said, looking at me with his big brown eyes and a nervous smile.

I took a deep breath, gave him a hug and put the flower in a small vase. I’m thankful I didn’t chastise him. In the end, I would have completely lost my chance to see the flowers if he hadn’t reminded me of them.

It’s supposed to be me who is raising and teaching my children, but sometimes it is they who teach me.

___

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Interview with Eva Linares, female fútbol commentator

Over the weekend I had the pleasure and honor of interviewing Eva Linares, the only female soccer commentator in El Salvador, (probably the only female soccer commentator in Latin America, possibly even the world.) Our interview was in Spanish, but I’ve translated my questions and her answers to English as well so no one is left out of the fun!

Durante el fin de semana tuve el placer y honor de entrevisar a Eva Linars, la única comentadora de fútbol en El Salvador, (probalemente la única comentadora de fútbol en América Latina, posiblemente la única en el mundo.) Nuestra entrevista fue en español, pero he traducido mis preguntas y sus repuestas a inglés para que nadie quede fuera de la diversión.

Interview with Eva Linars
Entrevista con Eva Linares

Latinaish.com: Mi primer pregunta es cómo fue que metiste en el mundo de fútbol? Cúando supiste que tú querías ser una comentadora?

Eva Linares: En el 2000 cuando tenía 18 años de edad ingrese a Radio Milenio 92.1 fm (emisora comunitaria que transmite en Santa Ana), comencé siendo presentadora de noticias y en el 2001 el Director de la radio, Julio César González (quien es periodista deportivo y narrador de fútbol de MILENIO y de CADENA MONUMENTAL 101.3 FM) fue quien planteo la opción de involucrarme en los deportes, en un principio era sólo reportera y Julio me propuso enseñarme a narrar, comenzamos las clases, hasta que hice mi primera narración en el 2001. Siempre me ha gustado hacer cosas diferentes, aprender y superarme, gracias a Dios que en mi camino han aparecido personas importantes que han compartido sus conocimientos.

Latinaish.com: My first question is, how is it that you got involved in the world of soccer? When did you realize that you wanted to be a commentator?

Eva Linares: In the year 2000, when I was 18 years old, I started at Radio Milenio 92.1 FM, (community radio station broadcasting from Santa Ana.) I started out as a news reporter and in 2001 the Director of the radio, Julio Cesar Gonzalez, (who is a sports journalist and football commentator from Milenio and Cadena Monumental 101.3 FM), was the one who brought up the option to involve me in sports. At first I was only a reporter but Julio proposed the idea of teaching me to commentate, I started the classes, until I did my first commentating in 2001. I’ve always liked doing different things, learning and overcoming. Thanks to God, important people always appeared in my path and those people share their knowledge with me.

Latinaish.com: ¿Qué ha sido lo más difícil y cómo lo has superado?

Eva Linares: Lo más difícil ha sido superar en mí temores, temores al qué dirán, ¿se me escuchará bien? – Tantas cuestionantes que surgen cuando emprendemos algo nuevo, esas incertidumbres las he ido superando preparando, haciendo mi trabajo con pasión y con la ayuda de amigos y amigas, de mi esposo, mi familia que siempre me empujan a seguir.

Latinaish.com: What has been the most difficult and how did you overcome?

Eva Linares: The hardest thing has been overcoming fears, fears that say, ‘can they hear me well?’ So many questions arise when we try something new, these insecurities have been overcome by preparing, doing my job with passion and with the help of friends, my husband, and my family always pushing me forward.

Latinaish.com: ¿Tienes algún memoria favorita de fútbol?

Eva Linares: En primer partido tenía muchos nervios, me preocupaba si podría gritar el gol, práctique mucho, llego el partido y los primeros 15 a 20 minutos de mi narración fue un desastre, me enrede, confundí nombres, totalmente UN DESASTRE, termino el partido y el marcador fue 0 x 0 , en el primer partido NO HUBO GOLES, así que mi tensión por cantarlos tuvo que aguantarse hasta el siguiente partido donde sí cante mi primer gol.

Latinaish.com: Do you have a favorite soccer memory?

Eva Linares: The first game I was so nervous – I worried if I could yell “goal!” – I had practiced a lot, and then the day of the game came. The first 15-20 minutes, my commentating was a disaster – I got tongue tied, I confused names, It was a complete DISASTER. I finished the game and the score was 0 to 0 – in that first game there were no goals, so my tension to yell that first “goal” had to wait until the next game, where I got to do it.

Latinaish.com: ¿Tienes un equipo o jugador favorito?

Eva Linares: “La Selecta” , Club Deportivo FAS y por solidaridad con mi esposo (Alexis Triviño), quien es chileno “La Roja” y “Colo Colo”.

Latinaish.com: Do you have a favorite team or player?

Eva Linares: La Selecta, Club Deportivo FAS [Salvadoran teams], and for solidarity with my husband, (Alexis Triviño, who is Chilean), “La Roja” and “Colo Colo”.

Latinaish.com: Si tú podría dar algunos consejos a las niñas de El Salvador, o en realidad, las niñas de todo el mundo, ¿cuáles serían? ¿Qué deben hacer si quieren ser o hacer algo que tradicionalmente las mujeres no lo hacen?

Eva Linares: Creer , creer amigas en ustedes mismas, somos maravillosas, tenemos tantos talentos y habilidades que tenemos la obligación de explotarlos al máximo, venzan sus propios temores, los pretextos sobran para no hacer las cosas pero son más las razones por las cuales debemos lanzarnos, ponganle mucho amor a sus sueños y piensen ahora en lo que desean y vivanlo como parte de la realidad. Bendiciones a tod@s!!!!!

Latinaish.com: If you could give some advice to the girls of El Salvador, or really, all the girls in the world, what would they be? What should they do if they want to be or do something that traditionally women do not do?

Eva Linares: Believe, believe friends that you are amazing – we have so many talents and abilities and we have the obligation to use them to the maximum. Defeat your own fears. There are too many excuses for not doing things but there are more reasons why we should go for it. Put a lot of love into your dreams and think now what you want then live it as part of reality. Blessings to all!!!

__

Muchísimas gracias, Eva. Fue un placer y un honor. Espero que eres una inspiración a niñas y mujeres en todas partes. Ya has demostrado que nada es imposible. ¡Muy buena suerte!

Much thanks to you, Eva. It was a pleasure and an honor. I hope that you’re an inspiration to girls and women everywhere. You have already demonstrated that nothing is impossible. Wishing you lots of luck!

___

(Images provided by Eva Linares. Interview and images not to be reprinted without permission. Thank you.)

(Imágenes proporcionadas por Eva Linares. La entrevista y las fotos no deben ser utilizados sin permiso. Gracias.)

Defectos

(For a really horrible but somewhat understandable translation of this blog entry to English, please click HERE.)

Hoy, algo diferente.

Estaba pensando que necesito practicar más mi español escrito, y cuál lugar mejor que mi blog? Entonces, cada viernes, voy a bloggear en español.

Hoy quiero hablar acerca de “defectos”. La palabra en español me da mucha risa porque más me recuerda la palabra en inglés “defects” que “flaws”. Una amiga mia una vez me dijo que la suegra de ella le gusta decirle, “Te quiero nuera, con todos tus defectos!” ¡Imagínate! El amor de la suegra, siempre algo complicado, ¿no?

La cosa es que, la palabra “defectos” se siente algo más pesado a oidos gringos. Maquinas y carros fregados de la fábrica tienen defectos – pero, es un poco chistoso en mi mente referir a un humano como “defectivo”, (ojalá no van hacer un “recall”!)

Cuando tenemos problemas con otra persona, no importa quien es, familia o desconocido – es tan fácil a ver los defectos de la otra persona – más difícil mirar en el espejo y buscar los defectos que tienes tú.

Por ejemplo, yo sé esas cosas de mi:

• Soy muy impulsiva. Si tengo una idea, siento en el momento que es la mejor idea en la historia del mundo, y siento que si no actuo para realizar determinada idea en una forma concreta, voy a perderla. (Y esto es verdad porque…)

• Soy olvidadiza, y también tengo un capacidad de atención igual a una niña de cinco años. Por eso, tengo siempre un montón de listas para recordarme de todo.

• Aplazo todo para último minuto, especialmente si la cosa que tengo que hacer es algo que no me interesa.

• Soy una persona de personalidad “Tipo B” – y para gente como mi esposo, Carlos, (quién es muy “Tipo A“), lo molesta a veces.

• Mi sentido del humor es algo sarcástico. (Cuando Carlos estaba aprendiendo a manejar mejor el inglés a veces mis chistes sarcásticos no eran agradecidos ni entendidos!)

• Tengo las tendencias de un adicta. Cuando amo algo, lo amo fuerte y con todo mi corazón – si es una persona (como Carlos!) qué suerte para él, pero si es una canción, por ejemplo, voy a escuchar a este canción una y otra vez por días o semanas – hasta que me aburro, (y si estás en el carro conmigo, vas a escucharlo también!)

Esos son unos de mis defectos, pero la verdad es que, tengo un montón más. Si sigo contandolos, voy a tener suficiente por llenar un libro… Pero, cuál es el punto?

El punto es que, todos tenemos nuestros defectos y cuando tenemos problemas con otra gente tenemos que estar justos. Claro que la otra persona tiene defectos que contribuyeron al problema, pero más puedes aprender si buscas tus propios defectos, a ver cómo contribuiste al problema, y cómo puedes evitar una situación semejante en el futuro.

“Él que busca un amigo sin defectos se queda sin amigos.”
- proverbio turco

Modern Day Pilgrims

“I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.” – Jon Stewart

The history of Thanksgiving we’ve come to know growing up in American public schools is little more than a fairy tale. The true history is muddled in uncertainty, contradiction, controversy and outright lies.

While I’m certainly not a historian and therefore not qualified to delve into this with any voice of authority, I can say one thing for certain – If it weren’t for the kindness and generosity of the Native Americans to the new immigrants to this land, they would not have survived.

Many tribes reached out to these new people and taught them how to fertilize, grow, harvest and preserve crops. They showed them which foods were safe to eat, instructed them on methods of hunting and fishing, and gave them many gifts.

What did they receive in return? Lies. Broken promises. Treaties that could never be trusted. Being forced into small parcels of land. Loss of their freedom, culture, language, way of life… Death.

Even today the indigenous people who cared for this land, in a way we do not today, are suffering the consequences of past generations.

This isn’t a guilt trip for white people, or others who were born here in the United States. Is it your fault? Did you personally steal, rape and pillage? No. And I don’t think we can hold people accountable for the sins of their ancestors. We’re all individuals responsible for our own behavior. But there is a lesson to be learned.

What we can do, is to live in harmony with those around us and teach our children to do the same – To be thankful for what we have and to share with others, including new immigrants from all over the world that come here to the U.S. – To live the example of those tribes who reached out to a people from an entirely different culture, race and language – To be thankful for what we have, and when we have an abundance, give to those who are not as fortunate.

After all, today’s “undocumented immigrants” are just modern day Pilgrims.

Happy Thanksgiving.

“Great spirit, grant me vision
that I may not go wrong
and find myself in prison
of things I have not done

Teach me the secret
that I might see
fill my heart with compassion
to love my enemy.”

-Robby Romero/Prayer Song

(image source)

Related Posts:

Latinaish.com Thanksgiving post 2009

Panes con Pavos (recipe)

Latinos & Gringas Gorditas

White guy #1: You know who likes to go with Mexicans? Fat white girls! It’s always the fat ones who-
Carlos: Hey.
White guy #1: What?
Carlos: Do me a favor.
White guy #1: Yeah?
Carlos: Shut the fuck up. {walks away}
White guy #1: Damn, what the hell’s his problem?
White guy #2: You’re a dumbass. His wife is white.
{awkward silence}
White guy #1: But I wasn’t sayin’ nothin – I just meant it’s like… a stereotype.

A stereotype – and like any stereotype, it’s mostly hurtful bigotry, but with a little truth mixed in – (Sort of like Fruit Punch with 10% real juice.)

“Gringas Gorditas” (Fat white girls), do not disproportionately pair up with Latino men. I can say anecdotally that among the gringas I know who are with Latino men, it’s an even split 50/50 with half being flacas (thin) and the other half being gorditas (chubby or fat.)

I’m one of the gorditas, and I’ve come up against a lot of ignorant assumptions about my marriage. First of all, I did not “settle” for my husband because I couldn’t “get a white guy”. White guys were never on my radar in the first place, maybe due to a childhood crush on Ricky Ricardo – who knows.

Second of all, my husband did not choose me just to get a Greencard, and nor am I a “status symbol” for him.

This stereotype about Latinos and gringas gorditas is doubly damaging because not only does it literally weigh my worth as a woman in pounds, it casts an ugly light on interracial marriage – as if our marriage is somehow less valid.

Here’s some breaking news: Interracial couples fall in love for all the complicated and simple reasons “same race” couples fall in love. In the end, it comes down to attraction – not just physical, (though biologically that can’t much be helped), but spiritual connection, emotional attachment, and shared experiences all play a role.

Now for the 10% juice: Culturally speaking, Latino men are typically more accepting, and even desiring, of a thicker figure on a woman, than are Anglo men. (Source: Study on Race/Ethnicity Body Type Preferences)

(Necessary Disclaimer: That, of course, is a generality that does not apply to all Latino men or all Anglo men. Individual results may vary.)

The real question in my mind is what is the fascination with this stereotype? Why all the scrutiny over my curves and his color? Yes, I’m a gringa gordita and yes, he is Latino – ¿Y qué? (So what?)

“It is not that love is blind. It is that love sees with a painter’s eye, finding the essence that renders all else background.” – Robert Brault

Days Like These

This is dedicated to a dear friend who recently E-mailed me lamenting having not taken good photos of an important event in her family. When I responded, I reminded her that the special events are not what make up the best part of life, it is the little things – and in doing so, reminded myself of the same.

It’s a cold rainy day, and I have a pot of beans simmering on the stove. This morning my oldest son almost missed the bus and my youngest is here by my side, either home sick or pretending to be sick – I still haven’t figured it out.

My husband is at work, just another day in an endless stretch towards a retirement in the unknown future, something that is uncertain at best, and definitely not promised in this unpredictable life. I vaguely remember his lips on my cheek as I slept, but Carlos was out the door before the sun stretched its sleepy fingers above the horizon. My husband texts me after he clocks in, while I am still warm in the blankets of our bed, his side of the sheets chilly in his absence. Every morning he writes the same, “Buenos dias mi princesa. Dormiste bien?”

And every morning I blindly reach for the phone that I know sits in the darkness on my desk beside the bed, the screen blurry to my still sleepy eyes, smile and reply, “Buenas mi rey, bien y tu?” (Regrettably my phone does not allow Spanish accents, so you will have to forgive the grammar mistakes.)

I will spend the day doing anything I can find to delay writing even though writing is what I want to do most, and then, having visited and re-visited every distraction possible, I will eventually open up a document and write. Once I begin, I won’t want to stop. I’ll kick myself for not having started first thing in the morning. I will feverishly try to get just one more sentence onto the page before I hear the sound of my husband’s keys in the door, or the rumble and screech of the bus bringing the children home.

Evenings are spent squaring away homework, adding today’s mail to the stack of unpaid bills, the voices of noticias en español from the living room mixed with the simmering and sizzling of cooking in the kitchen – these familiar sounds of home, I imagine, are being sewn into the very fabric of my children’s souls.

If it isn’t too chilly or wet I may force the kids outside to kick the fútbol around before the sun goes down. If I can leave something safely cooking without direct supervision needed, I may sit in the hammock and watch them. Sometimes my youngest son will pick me a flower, sometimes Carlos will turn off the television and join us for awhile, but eventually the chill in the air and hunger in our stomachs can no longer be ignored, and we go back inside.

Dinner is eaten, stories about our day are shared, books are read, teeth are brushed, children are put into bed asking to stay up just a little bit longer – but the day is almost done, and Carlos and I have yet to spend a minute alone, (besides a stolen kiss which was interrupted by someone asking for help with their Algebra.)

The night gets darker, the streets get quiet. We stay up an hour or two later than when we actually could have easily fallen asleep and promise ourselves to get into bed earlier tomorrow. Lights are turned off, and we fall asleep – sometimes feeling like we should have done more somehow, or that something is missing … Other times we realize that days like these make up the best part of life. Some nights we fall asleep knowing that, should we be so blessed and lucky, these are the days that we will close our eyes and want to savor one last time in our final years – if only our memories remain intact.

Fuerza Mineros

Fuerza Mineros, (the Twitter hashtag #fuerzamineros), a wish of strength to the miners, these two words I typed dozens of times yesterday as I watched the rescue unfold in Chile.

I tweeted some of the rescues as they happened, and once I started, I found that I had to stay there for the very last one.

Part of the intrigue for me was pride in watching the true international effort at play – seeing how we are capable of such greatness when we work together. This rescue in Chile could not have happened without the help of the United States, and dozens of other countries. It’s a lesson in cooperation and humbleness, in allowing others to help when you can’t do something on your own. It’s a lesson on strength in numbers – just as the Chilean miners pooled their talents to survive below ground, the world pooled their talents above ground to save them. We are all unique individuals with unique abilities, which we should use to help others.

The second reason I watched, was for the pure happiness it gave me. The rescue allowed us to forget our own problems, like any other distraction. I think for a lot of people, it was a much needed respite from the usual depressing political and economic news. Maybe watching the families reunite gave us a moment to recharge and recalibrate – to realize just what is important in this world.

When these kind of amazing stories happen, it’s inevitable that the characters in the story will be granted a sort of legendary status, becoming unforgettable to an entire generation. The Chilean miners have been described almost as saints, called heroes, been ascribed attributes such as “resilient”, but I’m going to take an unpopular stance … As horrific as their ordeal was and as intelligent and strong as they were to survive, they are not saints or heroes, and they are no more resilient than most other human beings who find themselves in a situation where they must fight for their lives.

The Chilean miners are men – and flawed men, just like the rest of us. Perhaps none has exemplified that as publicly as Yonni Barrios – the miner who had both a wife and mistress show up to the site calling his name, (and word has it, he isn’t the only one who had multiple women claim him.)

But the truth is, all of the miners have skeletons in their closets, just like the rest of us – and I’d be willing to bet that the contract they signed with each other in the mine was that they’d never tell a soul about the things they must have confessed to each other during the days when they thought they might not make it out.

And while the miners have captured the world’s attention, there are human beings who never get to tell their stories, who are never praised for their survival, who are suffering in all kinds of situations every day all over the world; from starvation, poverty, illness, separation from family or homeland, to loneliness, unjust incarceration, abuse, slavery, and mourning. It is the human condition, and those of us who are not touched by the worst of this kind of suffering are the lucky minority.

It may seem I’m being cynical – on the contrary! This should give you hope! What I’m saying is that, like the miners, though we are not saints, we all have hidden reserves of strength, we all have the ability to pull through difficult times. We all have the capacity for faith in something greater than us no matter how “religious” we consider ourselves. We all have the ability to be reborn in this world, to change our ways. Each day that you wake up and feel the sunshine upon your face, it is another chance to try again.

(Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)


“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world…Strive to be happy.”-Desiderata/ Max Ehrmann

The Lucky Plant

So much has changed. See this plantita here? Many years ago this little plant caused an American-Salvadoran war in our household.

Suegra says this is considered a “lucky” plant back in El Salvador, but it was unlucky for me because Suegra planted it in our yard without permission. For reasons which aren’t clear to me today, I got mad – really mad. I guess it was a boundaries thing. I resented Suegra living with us to begin with, and on top of that, she often redecorated without asking me. I’d go out on an errand and come back to see something incredibly feo she bought at a yard sale, sitting as the new centerpiece on our table. I guess at some point I had enough.

The lucky plant, which at the time looked like a wilted weed in my eyes, had been planted in a prominent spot in the landscaping and it stuck out like a sore thumb. She had even stolen rocks from elsewhere in the yard and made a circle around the pathetic little plant. It looked like a juvenile goldfish burial plot.

“It needs to be moved to the backyard – somewhere I can’t see it – near the air conditioner unit would be good. Some place where it might die,” I said to my husband.

He pleaded with me not to make a big deal. It was a difficult time in our marriage. His mother living with us turned into a sick love triangle – my husband always caught between his mother and me, both of us demanding his loyalty.

In the end, my husband asked his mother to move the lucky plant. I had not fully anticipated the war that erupted. Suegra didn’t speak to me for many days. She told my husband he didn’t wear the pants – started with that familiar refrain, “There are many women in the world, pero madre sólo hay una.”

Suegra moved the plant but she continued to take care of it, watering it in the summer, moving it indoors in the winter – and over the years it survived … and somehow we have, too.

All these years later, I remember that day and wonder why I cared so much. Why I couldn’t just let it go, but it’s past now, I can’t change what happened. I can only learn a lesson from it to carry with me.

Yesterday I noticed the chill in the evening air, whispering that autumn is upon us. We’ll soon have our first frost. I reminded Suegra that it was time to bring the plant indoors. I told her she could put it on the table, as a centerpiece… a daily reminder for me that life is imperfect but given time and a little luck, we can adapt.

Race & Reality

I just finished reading Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know About Our Biological Diversity by Guy P. Harrison.

This was definitely not light, relaxing reading but I’m happy that I pushed through and read it.

Book Description:

“Drawing on a wide variety of evidence – the hard data from fossils and DNA, interviews with the victims of racism, and personal experiences – Harrison dismantles the ‘race’ concept, bolt by bolt. Exposing race as a social illusion and political tool – rather than a biological reality – Harrison forces the reader to consider how they think about ‘other folk.’ Anthropologists have no use for the race concept, and neither should educated citizens.” -Cameron M. Smith, PhD, Department of Anthropology, Portland State University

Even if you already consider yourself educated and enlightened, reading this book will open your eyes in new ways. You won’t be able to look at people, race or society the same ever again. (Remember, we’re talking about race here – not culture. Very different. The craziness I observe in my own household on a daily basis is proof enough to me that cultural differences exist!)

The author argues that we all came out of Africa and we are one human race – that any categories based on hair type, skin color, facial features, etc – are simply man-made… By the time I finished reading this book I felt simultaneously freed…and trapped. I see myself as raceless, but this just isn’t practical in the society we live in.

Imagine renewing my driver’s license at the DMV. I fill out the form, I come to the race boxes – decide to leave them blank because they seem silly and irrelevant. I turn in my form.

“Ma’am, you didn’t check a box for race.”
“I know. I don’t want to. I don’t believe in races.”
“Yes ma’am, that’s real cute, but you have to choose one. I can’t process an incomplete form…”
I sigh, take my pen in hand, and check off a race.
“Hmm… I suppose this one is most accurate…”
I hand the form back to the DMV clerk who looks it over. Her satisfied smile at my compliance soon turns to a frown.
“African-American?!”

So, I don’t think race will be disappearing any time soon – and maybe it would be irresponsible of me to pretend our world doesn’t see these man-made boxes, regardless of what I personally feel. I have two sons who are struggling with their identity, and answering their questions with a cheerful, “Race doesn’t exist”, is not going to help them sort things out.

Just yesterday a classmate approached my older son and said, “Are you Mexican?” … My son, (having picked up on his father’s annoyance at constantly being incorrectly labeled Mexican instead of Latino or Salvadoran), replied with a simple, curt, “No.”

I told him that he should have used the opportunity to educate his classmate, but I wonder if that was fair of me. As a “white” girl amongst other “white” kids, I never had to explain myself. It must get annoying having to patiently tell people “what you are”. It must make one feel very “other”… and that’s never a good feeling, no matter how old you are – but especially in middle school.

The book, Race and Reality, re-printed a “Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage” which I think is empowering, not just for people who are traditionally considered “multi-racial” by today’s society – but for all of us. In the end, there is no pure race. We are all mixed and we are all human.

___

Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage:

I HAVE THE RIGHT…
Not to justify my existence in this world.
Not to keep the races separate within me.
Not to justify my ethnic legitimacy.
Not to be responsible for people’s discomfort with my physical or ethnic ambiguity.

I HAVE THE RIGHT…
To identify myself differently than strangers expect me to identify.
To identify myself differently than how my parents identify me.
To identify myself differently than my brothers and sisters.
To identify myself differently in different situations.

I HAVE THE RIGHT…
To create a vocabulary to communicate about being multiracial or multi-ethnic.
To change my identity over my lifetime -and more than once.
To have loyalties and identification with more than one group of people.
To freely choose whom I befriend and love.

© Maria P. P. Root, PhD

Nachos & Border Amigos

American flags are out in full force this weekend – And thanks to Hurricane Earl passing off the coast, the red, white and blue, snapped proudly in the wind.

While I was taking photos, I noticed the juxtaposition of this flag and a sign that made me smile.

Okay, maybe I’m easily amused, but the way “NACHOS” is written up there, as if there is nothing more American than that, it made me happy.

Actually, if you’re interested to know, nachos have a good story behind them.

From Wikipedia: Nachos originated in the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, just over the border from Eagle Pass, Texas, at a restaurant called the Victory Club, owned by Rodolfo De Los Santos. One day in 1943, the wives of ten to twelve U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Duncan in nearby Eagle Pass were in Piedras Negras on a shopping trip, and arrived at the restaurant after it had closed for the day. The maître d’, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, invented a new snack for them with what little he had available in the kitchen: tortillas and cheese. Anaya cut the tortillas into triangles, added longhorn cheddar cheese, quickly heated them, and added sliced jalapeño peppers. He served the dish, calling it Nacho’s especiales – meaning something like “Nacho’s special dish” in Spanish.

Anaya went on to work at the Moderno Restaurant in Piedras Negras, which still uses the original recipe. He also opened his own restaurant, “Nacho’s Restaurant”, in Piedras Negras. Anaya’s original recipe was printed in the 1954 St. Anne’s Cookbook.

The popularity of the dish swiftly spread throughout Texas. The first known appearance of the word “nachos” in English dates to 1949, from the book A Taste of Texas. Waitress Carmen Rocha is credited with introducing the dish to Los Angeles at El Cholo Mexican restaurant in 1959.

So there you have it. Nachos may not have been invented without some hungry gringas and an ingenious Mexican. You see, gente? This is what can happen when we all try to get along.

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