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Reconnecting With My Roots: 12 Ways to Keep My Latino Heritage Alive



The older I get, the more birthdays become just another date on the calendar. However, this year marks the big 2-5 and it’s only right I do something more than blowing the candles off bizcocho, hitting up a happy hour, or dancing the night away in 6-inch heels—not that I have an issue with participating in any of those activities. The greatest gift I can give to myself is a deeper understanding of my Latino roots, so this upcoming year will be dedicated to celebrating and re-discovering my culture’s rich history.

In the days leading up to my 25th birthday, I spent a lot of time reflecting on how I can do that. Should I leave the states and spend several months in Honduras? (I wish!) Maybe commit to taking capoeira or samba, again?  Or, should I country hop to several Spanish-speaking countries? Finally, I settled on a list that starts at home with collecting stories from my family’s matriarch to getting in the kitchen and getting down like my ancestors did. Here’s how I plan to keep my heritage alive:

Write about my cultura –I love writing, so that’s where things begin. I plan to write something that will deepen my connection to mi gente every day. In addition to creating a space to celebrate Afro-Latinas and diversity among Latinas, Ain’t I Latina? was also designed to help me in this journey.

Spend at least 2 weeks in the motherland—I haven’t been to Honduras in nearly four years, which is absolutely unacceptable. Once I leave La Ceiba and get to where the majority of my family stays, the lights shut off after a certain time, depending on how long you want to run your generator, and I have to travel to elevated ground to get a signal, among other things I’m not used to dealing with, and, at a certain point, I didn’t want to deal with that every summer. But I do want to spend time with my family and the trek needed to get there is a small sacrifice.

Hit up the club—I know, I know. It’s not necessary to discovering my roots, but why not? While in Honduras, I have to visit a club. (If anyone knows of a good one, please leave it in the comments section.) I usually visit Honduras with my parents and they’re pretty much not having that. On my last visit, I tried to introduce the idea to one of my cousins who said she didn’t go to clubs in the city. Eventually I’d like to round up several of my cousins for a night out on the town.

Dance like my ancestors did—I love to dance, and slightly convinced I was a salsera in my past life. Each month I’ll take on a new dance, flamenco, or something I’m familiar with like salsa, merengue, bachata or punta.  It’ll keep me learning and in shape.

Perfect my Spanish—I’ll be honest, my Spanish isn’t good. While I’ll speak it if absolutely necessary, for a long time I didn’t like the way I pronounced my words, so I resorted to responding in English. It’s time I move past that.

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  • Dina Lineth

    There are garifuna language classes being offered at Casa Yurumein in the Bronx. The next round of class should start in march I think. Let me know if if you’re interested. 🙂

    • Janel Martinez

      I’m definitely interested! Please keep me posted on that 🙂