Posted inOpinion

COMMENTARY: Raíces, learning my immigrant history saved my life

It was during a mandatory program I attended during the summer of my junior year that I met Cal State Fullerton Professor of Chicano Studies, Alexandro Jose Gradilla.

Part of his curriculum was to share the history of Latinx/o movements across the century and how it has shaped both the forms of identity-making for our community but also how it has also furthered the liberation and lives of all people of color. It wasn’t until we got to the part about immigrant rights movements, from Prop 187 to the blowouts of 2006 that my ears truly sprang up and where I saw a mirror in my academic journey for the first time.
Growing up, I knew I was an immigrant from Mexico. From hiding when the cops would drive by, to avoiding San Diego or never being able to travel back home to family in Mexico the way my friends were, I knew as I kept getting older that I was different.

Posted inOpinion

COMMENTARY: Raíces, Growing up Afro-Latina in LA

I grew up practicing Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian spiritual tradition that is Afro-indigenous at its core, practicing Capoeira at my parent’s Brazilian arts and culture center, and eating foods that were distinct to a Latinx blackness that I didn’t see represented in the world immediately around me. I don’t think you can ever truly strip yourself of who you are, but when I reflect back on that period of my life, I’m aware of how much of myself I did not express because I did not feel that it would be legible to others. I didn’t fit neatly into any category, and it was confusing for a long time to understand. Growing up Afro-Latina in LA asked me to shed parts of myself in order to be comprehensible to others. In a city that is predominantly Black American and Chicano, there were only a handful of Afro-Latinx folks that I knew, and the majority of them were my own family. Recently, I had the opportunity to spend time at LACMA in the incredibly powerful exhibition, Afro-Atlantic Histories. Walking in, you are immediately thrown into a timeless space that connects you across waters. To my left, a map of the transatlantic slave trade, and a brief account of the histories. As the daughter of an Afro-Brazilian immigrant, I knew that Brazil was the last country to abolish slavery (In 1888, just 135 years ago), but to see that represented here in the city that raised me, felt important.

Posted inOpinion

COMMENTARY: Raíces, Growing up in Puerto Rico

So many people in the U.S., including Latinos, are uninformed about Puerto Rico. I’m not an immigrant, and by the way, neither is Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor even though several elected officials called her that during her nomination hearings. Countless times I have been asked by people who should know better what kind of money is used on the island (yeah, the U.S. dollar), do they need a passport to travel there (um, no), and how is that I speak English so well.

Posted inOpinion

COMMENTARY: Latino strides made in 2023

September is for salsa (both music and food), Spanish, sabor (taste), salud (health), and símbolo (symbol).
Well, September 15 (specifically the second half of the month) kicks off Latino Heritage Month. It runs from September 15 to October 15. The logic for starting in the middle of this month is that certain countries (like Mexico, Chile, and other Latin American nations) celebrate their independence in mid-September through mid-October.
As we begin to prepare our Latino heritage celebrations, it’s worth noting that 2023 is uniquely different. Why? Because our culture has had a remarkable year thus far.

Posted inOpinion

COLUMN: Raíces, Finding family in Mexico

I went to Mexico to look for relatives of my great grandfather, who left there in 1890. My grandfather was a cowboy who rode cattle from Texas to the Midwest. I told a woman, who could have been a cousin, how my mom was born in Carrizo Springs, Texas and grew up in a migrant worker family. They picked cotton in Texas and beets in the Midwest and then wound up on a tomato farm outside Chicago. My mom’s sisters convinced the family to move to the city where they could make more money working in factories. My mom was the youngest, so she was allowed to go to high school if she got an after-school job. She found a job in a department store. My mom and dad, also a migrant from Texas, met in the high school cafeteria. They married and had five children, all who went on to graduate from college.

Posted inEducation

Andrés y María Cárdenas Family Foundation, LA Tequila Festival supports Latinx college students

The Andrés y María Cárdenas Family Foundation (AMCFF) will host its fifth annual fundraising event, LA Tequila Festival, on Sept. 9 at the Los Angeles Center Studios, where attendees will be able to taste and enjoy more than 75 tequila brands. But more than enjoying libations, the annual tequila event is organized to continue its efforts in supporting Latino and first-generation students to pursue their dreams.