Every day is a Hispanic heritage event
I’ve jokingly said that every time I look in a mirror it’s a Hispanic heritage event. Why designate an entire month for something that I do effortlessly every moment of my life? It’s redundant.
Then again, not everyone is looking into my mirror. So for the sake of adding my dos centavos to the long list of happenings in this month-long celebration, I’ll admit to this: I recently sang along (to myself and to the people standing close to me) as Los Lobos played â€œSabor a miâ€ at Plaza Guadalupe. It doesn’t get more Hispanic than that; ask my mirror.
It doesn’t get more Latino either, but that choice wasn’t left to me. Hispanic Heritage Month, as proclaimed and perpetuated, was pre-named. Those who conceived the celebration claimed naming rights and decided that Hispanic was a better choice than Latino. And while this pre-packaged fact bothers me a little, I can’t muster enough cultural angst to be upset.
I had no choice as to the starting and ending dates of Hispanic Heritage month, although the dates are pretty good. I had no choice as to whether to allow beer companies to peddle their wares in the guise of a Hispanic cultural artifact (because nothing says Hispanic better than burritos and beer).
But, at a deeper level, I can’t be upset at all at my apparent lack of choice. I blame the guy that stares back at me from the mirror. I can say this with complete authority: He had no choice in the matter of being born Latino. Not that he minds; in fact he’s happy with it; he wears it well. My point is that it wasn’t his idea. Whoever it was that conjured him claimed naming rights. And in so doing created what could be perceived as a predicament.
I’m well aware of my heritage and its millennial history. And I can’t help but be aware of how it blends effortlessly into the fabric of a larger American reality. All I need to do is look in a mirror. Being Latino is as much a part of who I am as is being American. From my perspective, there are no sharp edges.
So maybe the whole idea behind Hispanic Heritage Month is to help it make sense to others. I can easily choose to be a part of that. So I’ll paint a quick picture.
Last weekend I stood at Plaza Guadalupe with several thousand others, listening to Los Lobos rip the silence of a clear night with blues riffs and blistering rock progressions. Then they did a song that most of us there could remember hearing our grandparents sing. And in that moment it was all about being deeply as we were conjured to be. And we sang.
No pretendo ser tu dueÃ±o.
No soy nada, yo no tengo vanidad.De mi vida, doy lo bueno
Soy tan pobre Â¿Que otra cosa puedo dar?