Written by Bianca Bejermo
There has been a consistent and ill formed portrayal of the Hispanic person in American Society. We as people have been portrayed in the media as uneducated, hot headed, and, for lack of a better word, stupid. We are the fiery housekeepers, or humble gardeners, never the middle class family that they serve. Despite our negative portrayal, I know to look past those social expectations and look at the true potential that Hispanic people have. My concern is, whether or not other people in society have that same understanding. When I heard that Hispanic Heritage Month was being recognized in our community, I was ecstatic to see that, at least in this community, we had this time to recognize the contributions prominent Hispanic figures have had on this country and on our culture. For me, this month has served as a time of reflection, not only on the impact Hispanic people have had, but also on what the value of such recognition has on people with Hispanics in America as a whole.
From the top of my head I can name Frida Kahlo, Cesar Chavez and, Sonia Sotomayor. A small list of people with Hispanic heritage that have influenced society in one way or another. Frida Kahlo, yes the woman with the unibrow, was a spectacular artist that is recognized as a feminist icon for her paintings. Cesar Chavez was a civil rights activist who sought to improve treatment and working conditions for farmworkers and laborers. Sonia Sotomayor is the First Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court Justice. This is only a small list of people, but there are so many more, both dead and alive who have inspired the rest of us Hispanics, and who successfully broke that social expectation.
Why is it so important for us to recognize these Hispanics? The answer is simple. It’s important to give credit where it’s due, and to inspire future generations to look within themselves to not believe the lies the media has created about the worth of a Hispanic person. People are impressionable, we notice when people that look like us are in a room, because they are who we gravitate towards. Its human nature to go where it is comfortable, however here we are put in a situation where we are challenging not only society, but ourselves to go outside of our comfort zones. We are challenging ourselves to take those harder classes, and to try new things that we would’ve never considered doing otherwise.
As you grow up you develop a sense of what is important and what is not. In my Hispanic culture, we value family above all else, and family is the very reason many people leave their lives behind to migrate to this country. A country where they don’t speak the language, know nobody, and where they know the odd are stacked against them. However despite the challenges they face on a daily basis, there is an almost pigheaded stubbornness within them that looks to those success stories of real Hispanics, and says, “Maybe I won’t make it, but my children will.” That is the power family has, it has the ability to overlook the pain caused by living in a country that’s not your own, it has the ability to work in the pouring rain because you need money to feed your kids, it has the strength of letting go of your own dreams because your children’s dreams have become your own. Children are the living dreams of my parents’ generation. I am the dream, and the hope of the future.