Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas was hard for me. I never felt like I belonged and to this day it has never felt like home to me. One of the big reasons why was because I wasn’t an Arkansan. I was born in panama, and my mother is Panamanian. Nobody understood why we were black and spoke Spanish. For them only Mexicans spoke Spanish. Even as an adult I still had to explain to my co-workers (keep in mind I worked for an airline) that Afro-Latinos exist.
I can only assume that these people knew nothing of it because they haven’t been properly taught. I’m going to make sure my son knows about his heritage and here’s why:
TO GIVE HIM A SENSE OF BELONGING
I want him to be able to live comfortably in his own skin. To fit in with his peers. I want him to know he doesn’t have to choose between being Panamanian or Black because he is both. Imagine if I would have just told people I’m only black. I would have been denying my mother exists.
TO GIVE HIM A SENSE OF PRIDE
I don’t want him to be ashamed of who he is or to struggle with his identity. He’s going to be able to speak his Spanish comfortably and not care if people stare in disbelief. He’s going to love being who he is, because our culture is beautiful.
SO THAT HE CAN PASS IT DOWN
I have met so many Latinos in Texas who don’t identify with being Latino. Mainly because they know nothing of their ancestors. They know someone is of Latin descent and instead of educating themselves they just choose to ignore it. I am giving my son the tools necessary to carry on our traditions.
There are so many things we want to teach our children. How to cook, how to drive. Culture shouldn’t be ignored because it’s the essence of who we are. What do you want to pass down to your children?