Growing up in Massachusetts, Brazilian-born Julia Furlan often felt like an outsider.
It took many years and living far away for Julia to figure out where she fits on the map.
In this personal essay, she talks about her childhood, falling in love and her changing relationship with Brazilian-American identity.
Featured Image courtesy of Julia Furlan –”This is me making a joke as a 4-year-old, putting my dad’s Brazilian pajamas over my dress. Those pajamas were rad–I wish they still existed!”
When you grow up at the intersection of two vastly difference cultures, sometimes it can be easy to lose your sense of identity. But poet Xóchitl Morales wants to remind all Latino Americans why it’s important to never forget their heritage.
Morales breaks down her own life journey in a powerfully personal poem titled “Latino-Americanos: The Children Of An Oscuro Pasado,” in a video posted Tuesday on Pero Like’s Facebook page. Her verses detail everything from the loss of her Spanish language fluency as a young girl to the rejection of her Nahuatl name.
“My first language was Spanish, learned from sweet stories told by my papi at bedtime,” she says in the video. “My tongue a formation of the stardust of my heritage, and intertwined galaxy of rolled R’s and the pledge of allegiance. It was something I would soon forget after I was told it was wrong and taught a new way to introduce myself. ‘Mi nombre es’ turned to ‘my name is’ after the girl in my class told me she couldn’t understand me.”
Read more at HuffPost Latino Voices.
Most of the time when we talk about identity, we talk about how our individual experiences shape how we see ourselves. This can also happen to a country as a whole.
What does it mean for people in Mexico to all be grouped as “Mexican?” Does it help or hurt such a culturally diverse country? And why doesn’t Mexico like to talk about race?
That’s some of what we asked Claudio Lomnitz. He is a historian, author and anthropology professor at Columbia University whose works looks at politics, history, race, and culture in Mexico.
He is the author of Death and the Idea of Mexico and The Return of Comrade Ricardo Flores Magón. Lomnitz also writes a column for the Mexican newspaper La Jornada.
Featured image of Claudio Lomnitz, courtesy of PEN America.
To close out our show focusing on Afro-Latinos, we get a bit of wisdom from friend of the show Janel Martinez.
Janel reads to us an adapted version of a post she featured on her site AintILatina.com. It’s called “Outsider Within.”
April Salazar was told by her family that she had descended from Spain, and that she should be proud of her Spanish heritage. That knowledge helped shape Salazar’s identity until her family got genetic testing and found some surprising results—Salazar was not as Spanish as she was led to believe. She was also part Native American: in fact, a lot Native American. Here is this week’s Sabiduría, or Words of Wisdom:
Photo via aprilsalazar.com
Some linguists hypothesize that multilingual people can have different personalities depending on the language that they are speaking. Latino USA producers Camilo Vargas and Brenda Salinas discuss how growing up bilingual alters their personalities. Camilo learned English at a bilingual school in his native Colombia. His consumption of American media affected the personality he takes on when speaking English. Brenda Salinas immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of 6. Growing up in Texas, having light skin meant that she could pass as white, as long as she spoke English.
Camilo Vargas went from his native Colombia to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He joined Latino USA after a fellowship with Univision Noticias and Univision’s Investigative Unit. Before coming to the US, Camilo was a researcher in conflict studies and US-Latin America relations for the Colombian government and the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota. He’s reported on the drug war, national politics, and same-sex salsa.
Before coming on board as an associate producer with Latino USA, Brenda Salinas was awarded the highly competitive Kroc Fellowship at NPR. She has reported pieces for Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Weekends on All Things Considered and for KUHF Houston Public Radio. In college, she started her campus’ only student run foreign-language publication, Nuestras Voces. Brenda has a B.A. in Economics from Columbia University.
Photo courtesy of Flickr User Alexi Ue
If you are a teenager and you live in one of Brazil’s urban informal settlements,or favelas, there’s not a lot of places you can go to hang out with your friends. Recently, teens have taken to organizing rolezinhos – mass meet-ups in upscale shopping malls, organized via social media.
Over time, these innocent gatherings have become something more. As protest movements grow in Brazil in the lead up to the World Cup, the rolezinhos have taken on a political character – a forum for combating the racism and social exclusion that pervades Brazilian society.
Melaina Spitzer is a freelance reporter living in Brazil. Based in South America since 2008, Melaina has reported from Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil on the environment, human rights, and social conflicts. Her radio reports have aired on the BBC/PRI’s The World, NPR’s Morning Edition, and APM’s Marketplace. In addition to her work as a journalist, Melaina is the Director of the Academy of the Sea, a non-profit dedicated to socio-environmental education and innovation in Brazil’s coastal communities.
Feature photo by Melania Spitzer
Lucha Libre, Mexico’s national past-time of performance wrestling, is a macho sport where contestants wear super hero costumes and try to crush each other in the ring. They’re mostly thought of as men, but that’s starting to change. As Jasmine Garsd reports, women luchadoras are earning their place alongside men in this strange and complex Mexican tradition.
Jasmine Garsd was born in Argentina and hosts NPR’s Alt.Latino podcast. As a journalist she’s worked on the NPR programs Morning Edition, Talk of the Nation and Tell Me More. She has covered a wide variety of topics for radio including immigration issues.
Photo by Flickr user Lee South
Before you head out for a Cinco de Mayo margarita, take a trip around the country with host Maria Hinojosa to learn about Latino history. Hear about the patriotic celebrations of Laredo, Texas andthe first colony in the US—it’s not where you think it is. Also: could Zorro be the first American superhero? A high school class in East LA learns about the Chicano movement. And just where did the term “Hispanic” come from?
Feature photo courtesy of Mimictrash
The first European colony in what is today the continental U.S. isn’t where you probably think it is.
Every American kid in grade school learns that it was the British who first settled the U.S. at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. That just happens to be false. The Spanish arrived at St. Augustine, Florida decades earlier, in 1565. They came to protect their sea routes to the Caribbean, and built several forts and missions in the area over the years.
Today, a massive, star-shaped Spanish fort still stands over the city. St. Augustine has become a colonial-themed party destination where a man dressed as a pirate will take you on a pub crawl. But it’s also, as the city’s historian calls it, “the most important archeological site in the U.S.” Latino USA takes a trip to St. Augustine to shine some light on the United States’ Hispanic past. We visit historical sites such as the Castillo de San Marcos, join in on an archeological dig, and reflect what the city’s story tells us about our nation’s past.
Warren Miller is a writer and producer based in St. Augustine, Florida. He has contributed to public radio and television stations in Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida for more than 20 years. He’s also written for and edited national and regional magazines. Currently, Warren is the producer and host of “Closing the Loop,” a weekly interview program on WJCT-FM, the NPR affiliate in Jacksonville.
Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service