My goodness this year has been flying by! Technically yesterday was the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, but ALBTALBS doesn’t do Monday posts. >.> To kick off this new celebration of Smithsonian Heritage Month I got the wonderful Dee Tenorio to come visit! I really loved this post and I hope you’ll chime in.
What Culture Means To Me
My mother and I were discussing culture the other day, as one of our local grocery stores was having a sale for “Dia De Las Patrias”. Now, I didn’t remember that being a holiday and neither did my mother and she was a bit confused. Allow me to explain. My mother is a Native American and in California, that often means she speaks Spanish, because that’s the language the Indians were allowed and it’s kind of stuck. Now, me? I mangle my father’s language horribly. I can understand it to a degree (especially Spanglish), but I read it a heck of a lot better than I verbalize it. Between the two of us…yeah, we didn’t know what that was. It translates to “Day of The Homelands”, which seems to be a very sweet reference to the Mexican Independence celebrations going on down south. To which my mother asks, “Why are we celebrating that here? It’s not OUR independence.”
Much to my surprise, I had a good answer: Because it’s their culture. Your culture is part of you no matter where you are.
I’ll be honest, being brown in Southern California has had some serious drawbacks in my time. (It was worse before my time, but that’s a different story.) So a lot of my sense of being Hispanic is wrapped up in my sense of being rejected because of it. Folks get it in their head what Hispanic means and judge accordingly, whether that’s good or bad or blasé. Being born Mexican didn’t make me automatically a “wetback”, it didn’t mean I would magically know the language. I didn’t have a mental blueprint for cutting lawns and I wasn’t inclined to clean houses or serve. That’s what it means to a lot of people here.
For me, being Hispanic—being Mexican—is a lot about food, lol. It’s about my Grandmother’s kitchen and the music she loved to listen to. It’s telenovelas starring actresses with fabulous hair sobbing streaks of make up down their cheeks while we peeled potatoes and stared in awe, demanding Grandma tell us what was going on. It’s about the sound of my grandfather speaking Spanish so fast no one could tell where any words ended. My mom teaching us Cumbias and and the utter glory that is pan dulce, fresh from the bread man’s truck. And, yes, it’s a lot about tortillas. There is a sound that not a lot of people recognize anymore—the sound of a metal rolling pin hitting the wooden cutting board with this perfect “ting” every time it comes down and rolls the masa into a perfectly circular shape. That’s the sound of being Mexican for me, a chime that encapsulates the smells and voices and memories of my childhood.
We talked then, about how culture isn’t just where you are or even where you come from. It’s about the experiences you have with your family and the traditions that you share with the ones who came before and the ones you bring up. My kids all know the sound of the tortillas being rolled out. They know the smell of the beans and deliciousness of menudo. But I think the best thing we’ve been able to share with them is the togetherness we feel when we sit at the table together and create memories they can share with their children. Hopefully memories filled with laughter, spices and commitment…and maybe a little cumbias on the side.
About the Author: Dee Tenorio has a few reality issues. After much therapy for the problem—if one can call being awakened in the night by visions of hot able-bodied men a problem—she has proved incurable. It turns out she enjoys tormenting herself by writing sizzling, steamy romances of various genres spanning paranormal mystery dramas, contemporaries and romantic comedies. Preferably starring the sexy, somewhat grumpy heroes described above and smart-mouthed heroines who have much better hair than she does.
The best part is, no more therapy bills!
Well, not for Dee, anyway. Her husband and kids, on the other hand…
If you would like to learn more about Dee and her work, please visit her website.
Retired Marine and new Sheriff’s Deputy Cade Evigan is hanging onto his damaged soul—and his personal code—by a thread. His current mission? Weed out a violent motorcycle crew from a small mountain town. The problem? Katrina Killian, a woman standing firmly on the other side of the law, smack in the middle of the gang he’s there to destroy. She may get under his skin, but the sultry biker has criminal written all over her. So why can’t he see her like any other convict?
For two years, Katrina has been a DEA agent hiding in plain sight amidst a pack of killers, working to put an end to the gang that has terrorized her hometown. The last thing she needs is to fall in love with a man who could blow her cover—and her heart—to pieces, but Cade’s become an addiction she can’t break. Unable to risk either of their lives with the truth, she plays both ends against the middle to keep him safe. But lies can only last so long, and Katrina’s time has just run out…
Sound good? You can get a copy here!