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Published On: Fri, Sep 15th, 2017

Latino Heritage Month Is Here… and I Have Had A Change Of Heart

I preface this post by saying… the links expand to dope info on each topic highlighted. Feel free to explore.

Soooo I struggled with this every year since I started the website.

Latino Heritage Month sounds like it might be right up my alley right? I honestly never got excited about it. I started this site to lend my voice to present, promote and preserve our culture but I believe that Latino Heritage should be celebrated every day. You cannot write a book about American history with out including some of the amazing things we have contributed to this country. In this time of uncertainty and especially the consistent attacks (racial + political) on people of color, I have changed my perspective on this… I will support and promote Latino Heritage Month to those who only pay attention from Sept 15th – Oct 15th in the interest in enlisting you in the movement to preserve our legacy.

Where does this change of heart come from?

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In all honesty it inspired by stories I have heard on the road. Just recently… I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Arizona for the NCLR Conference representing the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation as one of the delegate board members. During my trip I connected with my good friend Cathy Cano-Murillo otherwise known as the Crafty Chica (don’t you love all of our colorful Super Hero names?). Cathy whom I have known almost as long as this website has existed gracefully invited me to speak at a fireside chat with students from her Phoenix Latino Blogger class she hosts in partnership with Collectivo.

 

That session taught me more than I probably taught them… they taught me that Arizona was not the place that Public Enemy sang about anymore. They taught me that there is a loving movement of bloggers, story tellers, activists, artists etc coming together to create and support Black & Brown creative spaces. (Note: I will be sharing some of their stories in some of the posts that will follow). I loved the way that they embraced me, I quickly scheduled another trip to explore Phoenix… (and Nogales).

When I arrived to Phoenix the second time, I was invited to a beautiful space called McDowell Market to see a community collective come together to promote arts, crafts, healthy eating and literacy all while enjoying some great coffee and tea. I created a cool FB Live showcasing some of the vendors (and sharing their contact info) so that you can connect.


I then drove south… to Nogales. There are so many stories I can share about this beautiful town divided by the U.S. Border… and I will in due time but I will just say that I never bought into the stereotypes of Mexican people, I have always admired the beauty of their culture but I also was not fully aware of their struggle and determination to adapt to the environment imposed on them. You see, that part of history was omitted from my history books. During my time in Nogales, my smartphone was filled with headlines that were unfolding as I was touring the border. The current administration, has decided to rescind DACA.

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was an American immigration policy that allowed some individuals who entered the country illegally as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit. As of 2017, approximately 800,000 individuals—referred to as Dreamers after the DREAM Act bill—were enrolled in the program created by DACA. The policy was established by the Obama administration in June 2012 in order to provide prosecutorial discretion to federal agencies with limited resources.

As my trip progressed, the mood tensed, community organizers started mobilizing and preparing for what would happen to the over 800,000 Dreamers and their families if these protections were pulled and their lives uprooted. I have the opportunity to take to Jose Patiño from AlientoAZ, an organization of Dreamer activists leading the charge in the fight in against the anti immigration actions of the United States government. I wanted to fully understand how his life would be impacted if DACA would be rescinded. This story (and so many other I heard in conversations that day, broke my heart.

Watch the videos now…

I say all that say to say… I want to meet  positive Latinos everywhere they are.

I love NYC and have extensively covered the cultural scene here for over 20 years. At times I would talk about stuff out of state but I never really focused outside of what I know. I have great ties to some Latinos in Chicago, Cali and Florida…and recently  we have had an influx of Latinos from all over that connect with us via Facebook. That is not even mentioning all of our Latinos serving us in our Military branches… to whom we owe everything to as they sacrifice their lives to blanket us with Freedom.

As I talk to people all over in my travels, I am realizing that there is so much more out there so… I have decided today on September 15th, 2017… that I would start a virtual tour of sorts and start researching Latino life and really connecting with people from all over.

So for the next 30 days, I will be sharing stories, poetry, events with you from all over the country…and especially in places we normally do not think that stuff is happening.

No worries… we are not planning to stop covering stuff in NYC, I just want to add more to the mix…

I am interested in finding and connecting with cultural collectives, poetry houses, museums, restaurants, small businesses, entreprenuers, local artists, authors, poets, singers, civil servants, educational facilities, publications, internet/terrestrial radio stations, community based organizations, event promoters and our military family that is often away from home…. anyone one who demonstrates on a daily basis how much they love our culture.

I am going to need help… so where ever you are… I need you to give me tips on places and things to cover. I mean, who knows your barrio better than you?

You can send me tips the following ways…

via Email: SofritoSubmissions@Gmail.com

via Twitter: Follow me at @UrbanJibaro, use the #dailysofrito hashtag!

via Facebook: Visit us at Sofrito For Your Soul

I dedicate this series to my late grandmother, Gloria Delrio aka “Mama” who arrived here to this country with a dream that our family would prosper if they were determined to work hard. Although she arrived here as a Puerto Rican woman with the privilege of US Citizenship, she faced struggles very similar to our brothers and sisters from all over Latin America faced when they arrived to the United States.

NOS VEMOS MI GENTE, I AM COMING TO A TOWN NEAR YOU!

Special shout out to Zulema Rodriguez and Stephanie Bermudez for the tour of Phoenix / Nogales!

George Torres

The Urban Jibaro

 

Latino Heritage Month Is Here… and I Have Had A Change Of Heart