Fri Jan 6, 2012, 09:09 AM
struggle4progress (76,185 posts)
Taking Back My Culture
By Olga Trujillo, J.D., author of " The Sum of My Parts "
My father, or Popi, as I called him when I was a child, did not speak English, only Spanish. My mother (Mame) also spoke Spanish as her first language, but she could speak English, too--even though she had a strong accent. My brothers and I learned Spanish first and only later learned English in school. We grew up in a traditional Latino home - well, sort of. We spoke only Spanish at home, ate foods that reflected my mother's Caribbean roots, believed in God, went to Catholic Church every Sunday, and our earliest teachers were the nuns of our local Catholic School ...
Our next-door neighbor, with whom I stayed during the day for a few years when Mom started working, was just such an elder. Doņa Graciela was in her seventies, and even at the young age of three, I could tell that she was Popi's elder, too. I loved every minute I spent with her and relied on her love and kindness. When I was with her I felt good, smart, creative and capable. She made me part of her familia and through her I learned another meaning of the traditional concept--one that I carry with me still. She had some idea of what went on in our home and, in her wisdom, she built my resilience by giving me things to be responsible for. She gave me a rosary and taught me prayers, instilling in me a deep sense of spirituality that could develop in my years in Catholic school. My relationship with her wasn't all about the rules; it was about sharing, love and care.
The nuns at my schools and at church furthered my budding ideas of spirituality and helped me to honor how I was different than the other kids in school. The nuns from Central and South America in the convent connected to my school taught me to read and write in Spanish. They talked to me in Spanish with love and caring, very much like Mom and Doņa Graciela had done.
Back at home, I was able to hold on to the values of our culture, language and spirituality when my father used his values of respect, gender roles, and the entitlement that he thought came with family as a reason to beat and rape me. I had learned another view from those he said were wiser: nuns at my school and the convent, and our neighbor. They helped me to survive and now, when I consider familia, I know it means to love the ones close to you. When I look back at what it means to have respect for others, I know that it works both ways - parents respect children and children respect parents. Spouses and partners respect each other--each others' bodies, each others' sense of self and dignity. Respect is a gift that should not be taken advantage of or abused ...
Give me the courage to change what I can change, the patience to accept what I cannot change, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of people I had to kill because they pissed me off -- St Francis, Revisited
1 replies, 501 views
Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Taking Back My Culture (Original post)
Response to struggle4progress (Original post)
Mon Apr 23, 2012, 08:53 PM
ProudProgressiveNow (3,250 posts)
1. Thank you for sharing this. nt
In order for this struggle to have meaning, the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity, become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both.