Impromptu Ambassador for the Latino Community
by Talia Rodriguez
What is culture? – To me – a shared set of experiences and the values driven from those experiences. What’s it worth? Whelp – mostly usually oppression lol factually speaking of course. The fun parts are- lots of times- food, shared music, song and art, some interesting stories, unique yet athletic or sports like games, and then there’s government and religion – aforementioned.
Latinos, who are we? What is our culture? How many of us are there? & who “Counts”? We are but one people separated by constructed privileges, a couple oceans and rivers, and connected by technology and we all love el conejo molo (I don’t care what you say).
Further, our Latino culture is shared by people whose experiences span such polarized degrees of privilege- that it blows my mind. How such keen injustice exist within culture I wonder?
Factually injustice in this country and (others) is so, that I can have the very same name, the very same everything as another woman but if by a randomized act of God, she is born outside of the United States, and our lives are measured differently. Same name kept I am a citizen and she’s not two different social realities – that’s undeniable.
There is a girl whose last name is Rodriguez (same as mine) sitting in a cell somewhere because she was born on the WRONG side of an invisible line or the tracks and had the common sense to run for it. Is that fair?
Is it my culture to accept that? It’s the way the numbers work that I’m on the outside and she’s on the inside. Scary thing of all is – we might even have the same dreams. Maybe even agree on religion and like the same food. But because it benefits some folx- they try to make it seem like me and her – we don’t have the same culture and trick me into wanting to lock her up. Nope. Not I. When I close my eyes the days, I feel the worst for myself I close my eyes and think about that girl.
I won’t support “culture” that doesn’t count such women and me in the same deck. Just cus Im half white and born in the United States doesn’t make me more deserving of liberty – way that I see it. You’ve got to believe in liberty to be brave – because if not- what are you fighting for?
Who are brave people in a culture?
Brave people ask themselves that too. And the bravest of all, answer their own question in the worst way- in a way that causes themselves to have to act. Amber Martinez is a brave and complicated. She is a leader because she creates community (at whose foundation is coalition building) – which itself it a challenging enterprise. Why do some build communities? Answering for myself to myself- it because they know the feeling of being alone.
Anyone who can make It in small town USA and in the city has got my respect. You’ve got to two have two different types of Moxy – on call- for both the country and the city in New York State, Amber’s got em. The type of “gotem” that made her a welcome guest in Croatia -finding herself making friends she could keep for a lifetime, a million miles away from home and impromptu ambassador for the Latino community. After 20 years or so in Buffalo she calls here home.
Amber Martinez- Her role? to unify communities around spaces centered around freedom of identity. Freedom of identity, the freedom to shed your culture born or not and or to assume another, to leave freer than before, if you so choose.
Read below Amber’s Interview, follow her brand and accept we are all in constant states of transformation and growth and that’s part of our culture too.
- Where were you born and what values were taught in your home? – Well I was born in a small town in NY with my mother and brother. Some of the values that stick out at a young age are respect, discipline and responsibility.
- What was your experience like as a student? – My college experience was interesting. When I first went to college, my first semester was a realization that I was not ready or prepared for what college had in store. By my second semester, I dropped out and started my first full time job at DD. It took 4 years to find my way back into college. I started back up at ECC and graduated with my Associates degree in Liberal Arts. By this time, I took a year off to focus on a sales position. After the year, I decided to sign back up for school and started my journey to receive my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. It was a little hard connecting with other students at that time because I was 5 – 6 years older than the students in my class. I decided before I graduated, I wanted to do an abroad program to meet people with the same interests. At first, I was being denied for abroad programs. Then I took an International Marketing class and the professor was promoting an abroad Spring break trip to Croatia. I wasn’t convinced but signed up anyway. I ended being accepted into the program my last semester in college. Long story short, it was a life changing experience and that opportunity helped develop relationships with the students on that trip who I still speak to, even in today’s light of life.
- What was your first job? – My first job out of high school was with Dunkin Donuts (DD). Working in a fast food environment is not easy but I was determined to do the best I could in the position as an employee. My work paid off and within 6 months I was offered a shift supervisor position running my own shifts. I did the same thing with the shift supervisor position and within a year, I was offered my own store to manage. Throughout my time at DD I ran 4 different stores. It was at DD I gained more interest in business.
- How do you define a businessperson? – A businessperson to me is someone who doesn’t conform to the norm. Business minded individuals see outside of the box and strive to make changes. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, with the challenges and the consistent changing world we live in is an important part of being a successful businessperson.
- Why did you decide to open your business? – I’ve lived in Buffalo for over 2 decades. Since I’ve been here, the well-known businesses in Buffalo that are Latin based do not work together. The way I see it, if the community sees businesses within the community working together, they set the tone for the community on what it means to be united and supporting one another. We’re here to do just that.
- What is your theory on human potential? – Human potential is limitless. If one is willing to put in the work and heal and be present, one can do and be anything they want to be.
- What is the most important thing you have learned along the way? – Life has taught me the only way to get to the success you want is to believe in yourself and to put yourself first in anything and everything you do.
- What is your remedy after a hard day? – When a hard day arises, I like to put on soothing music, run a bath, eat my favorite foods and smoke a joint.
- What are your business values? – Our business values are surrounded by passion, community development and collaboration. We’re passionate about helping unite our community once again. Finding new innovative ways to help rebuild. Create more opportunities for our people through community development and showing our community when we collaborate with other businesses thriving to make our community better, will show others what working together can achieve.
- What is the name of your business and why? – Our brand name is La Kultura. We chose that name for what it means: The Culture. We are one and we will be the ones to set the tone for what creating unity looks like.
Talia Rodriguez is a bi-racial, bi-cultural, and bi-lingual Latina from Buffalo. Ms. Rodriguez’s mission is to write about Latina’s, who have shaped the face of our city and our region. It is Ms. Rodriguez’s believes that our own people should inspire us and in telling our collective stories, we push our community forward. Ms. Rodriguez is a community advocate and organizer. She is a 5th generation West Sider, a graduate of SUNY Buffalo Law School, and an avid baseball fan. She lives on the West Side with her young son A.J… Ms. Rodriguez sits on the board of several organizations including the Belle Center, where she attended daycare. Ms. Rodriguez loves art, music, food, and her neighbors.