Celebrating a different culture gives one the chance to express their pride towards the contributions made by praised role models who’ve come and gone. Being a Latin-American woman means I have to fight to be heard, work harder to be respected, and never forget the struggle my family members have gone through while in search for a brighter future. It’s important for me to celebrate my family’s roots, but also to educate others on what it means to identify as a Latino in the US.
I’ll start with the one person I consider to be one of the strongest women I know – my grandmother. My grandmother came into this country with nothing in her pocket, pushed herself to work two jobs (to support herself, my mother, and my uncle), and learned english to survive on her own. Assimilating was not easy, but my grandmother knew it was crucial to leave her home because living in poverty would lead to more suffering. So she heard of a country where freedom was celebrated, and where all of her goals could be accomplished with determination.
Picture taken in the mid 80’s
My grandmother Gloria, was part of local 365 United Auto Workers, and was the first female union representative. She is seen here on strike, fighting against the violation of workers rights.
My grandmother sacrificed the dreams she had planned for the sake of her children. The harder she worked, the faster she was able to provide for her kids and her whole family. To give them a future was all she prayed for. “Tienes que seguir adelante,” she tells me, you have to keep moving forward. This is why I respect her, and continue listening to her words of wisdom. It is also the very same reason why it’s important for me to celebrate a culture I am extremely proud to be apart of – to have been born into. It wasn’t a choice being Latina, and I’ve been connected to my roots for a very long time.
Photography by Wilfredo Benitez
My grandmother has been living her passion as an actress participating in theater and film. She recently starred in an Ecuadorian Film titled Medardo, about the life and death of poet Medardo Angel Silva.
Anyone can celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month – that’s my open-minded and humble opinion. The only way to do this however, is by educating yourself first about the facts, and this goes for Latino or non-Latinos around the globe. Learning and appreciating a different cultural background helps you look at everything from a broad perspective. There are many historical and talented figures who’ve made a difference with the major contributions that have lead to the freedom of a country, or the freedom of expression.
To me, my grandmother’s hard-work is a representation of the Latin culture in it’s entirety. Like everyone else, we’re here to work, support our families, and succeed in the process. My grandmother has failed quite a few times but always picked herself up again. This is the land of opportunity,” is what she always says. I look up to her for guidance as she always provides the advice I need to remember that I too, can become someone in life.
Photography by Jimmy Andino
My grandmother receiving a diploma for her continuous support for the arts within the Ecuadorian Community in Union City, NJ.
So to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, isn’t only to observe Latin-American contributions, but to also appreciate the diversity existing in our country today, and being grateful of those who continue working hard while making sacrifices along the way. Let’s all remember where our families came from, and never forget those who long ago raised their voices to fight hard for the Latino community.
“We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community – and this nation.” – Cesar Chavez