We as Latinos are born with a blurry image of our own identity; we share three main heritages.
Imagine living in a room all your life in which the lights are always off, but one day you decide to turn on the lights, just out of a whim. The light reveals a beautiful house lavished with sculptures and even a library of the greatest works ever composed. Yet, you feel sad because you have lived here all your life and yet you had no idea how beautiful your home was. You have re-discovered your own home. This is one of the feelings of rediscovering ones culture, it is not that it was never there it’s just that one forgets how beautiful one’s own culture is.
Now what does it mean to rediscover one’s culture? Its relearning our history, it is identifying who we are, what we are, and what we represent. Who are we? We as Latinos are born with a blurry image of our own identity; we share three main heritages. The first are the Indigenous peoples of this land, the second are the people of the Iberian Peninsula, and the third are peoples of West Africa. Rediscovering our culture means being aware of these three heritages and learning about how the mixing of these three created our Latino culture.
What are we? We are a people that are connected by a shared history and culture. Why is it that for some reason when we first meet a Latino we act as if we just met one of our long lost cousins? When speaking with a stranger of Latino heritage we both speak our own dialect and yet we understand what the other person is saying. It is refreshing and fun to learn specific terms that is renowned to each region. We are a people that wear their hearts on their sleeve. We put our hearts into the way we sing, the way we speak, our mannerism, and in the way we dance.
What do we represent? We represent a long history of struggles, repression, and survival. We represent our families, our countries, our Latino cultures, and our future. We must learn from our past and read about our heroes, our intellectuals, poets, writers, healers, warriors, and our leaders. We must definitely not forget about these people, we must learn about the lives of our people back in Latin America in order to try to rediscover our culture. Rediscovering our culture has taught me that we have a lot of work to do in order to learn about ourselves, and that our elders hold the key to that history. We must not forget what they went through for us, and that everything we do is not for us but for those that are yet to come.
About the Author
My name is David Alfredo Paulino. I am twenty-one years old and I am currently a senior attending SUNY Cortland. I am an international studies major with a concentration in Global Political Systems and my minors are Anthropology, Latin American Studies, and Asia and the Middle East. After I finish my bachelors degree in Spring of 2015, I wish to take a year break, while still being able to contribute to CNY Latino. After that year I wish to join the Peace Corps and hopefully work somewhere in Latin America. Once I finish my service in the Peace Corps, I am going to pursue a Masters degree, most likely in the University of Peace at Costa Rica, which is a United Nations Charter School.
I was born in Manhattan, NYC, but I currently live in the Bronx with my Mother, little sister, and Stepfather. Although I was born here most of my fondest memories come from my frequent visits to the Dominican Republic, and always being there. I even stayed there for a year due to my constant going back and forth, I grew to love the atmosphere there and sometimes I yearn for it more than the actual city.