A Month of Cultura and Pride
I like to think that Hispanic Heritage Month lasts 365 days for my gente
Lisa Serna Mayorga, Spicy Cilantro
Originally published at Spicy Cilantro
Published on LatinoLA: October 10, 2012
In 1988, when President Ronald Reagan expanded Hispanic Heritage Week to include an entire month beginning September 15th, I was a 16-year-old high school sophomore focused on friends and well, boys.
To be honest, I never knew an entire month celebrating my culture even existed. This may be surprising to some, being that I was raised in a Latino home with two very socially active parents. I suppose it wasn't that big of deal because we celebrated our cultura just by being who we were and living the lives we chose as proud Latinos.
Now, to be honest I grew up knowing that I was Mexican-American, even Chicano and Latino, but never Hispanic. I remember fondly my mother Isabel telling me that the word Hispanic was a word created by the U.S. government to lump all of us brown folks into one basket.
Pretty radical, you say? Not so much. For many years, decades even, my family fought for a seat at the table… for a shot at a good education, stable job, healthy kids and a place to call home. Part of my grandmother's struggle, my Tia Lena's struggle and the struggle of my parents was being identified as more than just a mere "Hispanic" who mattered only during the census (and during election season). All of them wanted to leave their mark as strong men and women who made the world a better place, as good parents, great teachers and mentors.
I'm grateful for my grandmother's struggle, my aunt's struggle, my mom's struggle and of course, my papa's struggle. Today would not be possible without the sacrifices they made.
I like to think that Hispanic Heritage Month lasts 365 days for my gente – proud, loud, eating, drinking, loving, artistic, soulful, beautiful, prayerful, grateful and powerful.
To all Hispanic, Mexican-American, Chicano, Latino leaders – I thank you for creating a path for me.
To find out more about Hispanic Heritage Month, check out these websites:
Editor's note: Lisa's father is the late Joe Serna, Jr., Sacramento, CA's most beloved and active mayor whose accomplishments are too numerous to list. To Lisa, he was her father and to the rest of us, he was Uncle Joe. His legacy lives on through his children, his big extended family, many active in public service.
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