Somewhere, a Latino man is wearing a T-shirt with
“Viva la Raza!”
emblazoned across the front. Elsewhere, a car windshield has a sticker that says
Nearby, a tattoo of the Dominican flag, in its colorful glory, is proudly displayed on the back of some dude’s left calf muscle. They are loud, they are proud, and we commend them for being that way. But do they know what they are proud of?
Tattoos are nice and logos are cool, but without some real knowledge, they are just trendy pop images — cue Che Guevara’s silhouette. As men it’s our responsibility to be knowledgeable about where we come from and to pass on that knowledge to the next generation. However, there is a lot out there — so what should we focus on? Here are five things every Latino man should know.
Where you come from – like, exactly where…
It’s one thing to say “Soy Chicano” or “I’m Mexican-American” and another to know that your family was actually here for hundreds of years and that they didn’t actually cross the border, the border crossed them. That’s some powerful stuff. For most of us though, knowing where your family came from might mean asking some older folks about the town they grew up in, when they came here and perhaps more importantly — why? You may be surprised about what it took for someone to uproot their family or go at it alone and start anew in a foreign land. The type of courage and struggle it would take is something you can use to motivate yourself during tough times. If abuelita can come to New York at 16 and work her fingers off in a factory to start a new life, I’m sure as hell going to do my best to finish this PowerPoint presentation. While you’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt to learn a bit about that country either. You don’t need to write a thesis, but if someone begins a conversation with “How do you think Ollanta Humala is doing?” you should be able to know that he’s the President of Peru and not a novela actor dancing on Mira Quien Baila.