Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

Volume 119, No. 9October, 2019

I would say that what I celebrate about being of Hispanic/Latin heritage is that I am what it truly means to be from Latin America, having an amazing mix of diverse countries in my blood that I am sure influences my musicality. I have grandparents from Mexico, Panama and Peru – and their families came from Spain, Italy, Croatia and also Africa. That makes my genetic makeup very interesting, diverse and just cool, if I may say so!
– Rosa Avila

A century ago, my great-grandmother left her home in Mexico, along with all of her possessions, to strive for a better and safer life in Texas. The last three generations of my family have faced obstacles that I have never known. My Hispanic heritage means that no matter how tired I am, how hard I have to work, or when it seems like the work is so slow that I might never work again, I owe it to those women to keep going. If I can keep our journey alive, maybe I can inspire other young Hispanic musicians to believe that anything is possible, no matter how impossible it seems.
– Audrey Flores

As a first-generation Diasporican (Puerto Rican in the diaspora), Hispanic Heritage Month is a little tricky. We never celebrated this in school when I grew up because everybody lives their culture every day. It wasn’t until coming to the States that I realized the meaning behind it. Although I don’t subscribe to or endorse the term – because it can carelessly lump many different cultures into one pot often regarding language as the only common denominator – I have learned that the space and the time to focus and celebrate all of us Latinxs is very valuable. We celebrate our different histories, our common songs and jokes, our varied foods, our diverse genetic makeup, and much more. We must use this time not only to celebrate, but to educate the future generations, the older ones, and especially our own young Latinxs! Puerto Rico is a very musical Island. Everybody plays or sings during festivities and protests. Especially as a percussionist, I find a plethora of musical wealth to draw from in my island and neighboring islands. These roots, grooves and social cues within the music are foundations that have never ceased to help me in any musical situation: from Fat Cat to Carnegie Hall. P.S. My band People of Earth has had something in the oven almost ready for y’all to celebrate with this month 😉 a musical conversation between three islands: Puerto Rico, Cuba and Manhattan. Keep your eyes open!
– Victor Pablo

As a Mexican, I am so proud of my heritage. We Latin Americans come from rich backgrounds: I have blood not just from Europe and Africa but also from Aztec warriors. This mix makes us unique, makes us one. This mix gives us our unique identity because we have elements from around the world and not just one place. We have the wisdom from our indigenous ancestors, we have the strength of our European parents, and together this gives us a deep sense of identity, a deep sense of culture, a deep sense of just being who we are. Hispanic Heritage Month means for us Latin American people to come together and celebrate our roots, to remember that we come from the same earth like the corn, like the vanilla, like the flowers. It means to be proud of where we come from, to celebrate our input in the American modern society and to remember that all of us come from a mix of heritages. The real beauty is in the mix and not in the perfection of purity.
Through my heritage, I learned to be kind to others, to work hard, to overcome problems, to be respectful. Because I come from Aztec warriors and Spanish adventurers and their blood is still in my veins, I live to give them a tribute everyday by being a good person, by being a good colleague, by being a good friend.
– Mariana Ramirez