El Amor

My Small Cuban Family Contrasts With Latino Stereotypes Which Has Often Made Me Question My Latinidad

Recently, I attended my cousin’s wedding and it was everything you’d expect from a beautiful Texas ceremony. The nuptials and reception took place on a farm, and the bride and groom were glowing as their guests ate tacos, drank margaritas, and danced into the night. The only thing missing from the affair was something I had seen in the dozens of pictures of my Latinx friends: a huge family.

One of the well-known stereotypes of Latinos is that we come from big, loud families filled with dozens of first, second and third cousins. The family is expected to be tight-knit and able to depend on any of their members at any time. My friends have happily complained about big family gatherings, cousins they’ve been best friends with since childhood, and holidays filled with love, laughter, and tables that seated over twenty people. I, on the other hand, have always felt like a bit of an outsider in these conversations because my own Cuban family often makes me feel as if it could be one of the smallest in the world.

On my papi’s side, my abuela is one of eight and close with several of her brothers while my abuelo only has one sister that I know of.

@msirinagonzalez /Instagram

My dad, meanwhile, has two siblings — but only his sister ended up having children. One child, to be exact: my cousin who recently got married. Meanwhile, my mother has one sister who also has one child. That brings my first cousin count to a total of two, with my dad’s side being made up of only Latinos (my mom is Russian).

I know that both of my parents had first and second cousins. That they had been close with each other earlier in their lives but, that eventually, between my father going to college in another country and us eventually moving from Russia to the U.S., nobody kept in touch. My papi’s siblings and my abuela eventually moved to the U.S., too, but otherwise, my family tree is severely lacking. When I’m being honest with myself, it’s a dynamic that often leaves me feeling severely missing out. I’m not one to enjoy stereotypes, particularly when they’re pushed on me by non-Latino outsiders. I know that not all Latino families are as big, loud and boisterous as movies and TV shows would like us to believe. Still, growing up as a child, I often couldn’t help but pine for a big, happy Latino family of my own. One where cousins abounded and had a close presence in my life from childhood into adulthood.

Growing up in my own small Latino family felt like a cosmic joke at times.

@msirinagonzalez /Instagram

I didn’t know anyone back in Cuba, except for my abuelo who has now passed away, and while the cozy little family foursome made up of my papi, mami, brother and me have family in the U.S,. we could have been closer. Truthfully, we let the long distances that made up the space between us make it difficult. My abuela, aunt, and her own nuclear family moved to Texas for job opportunities when I was younger while my parents took us to another part of Florida for their own work. I rarely saw any of my extended family growing up, and the divide has grown even further as I became an adult.

If I see my uncle, aunt, cousin or abuela once every two years, that’s a lot. My cousin’s wedding was likely the last event where we would all gather together for a long time. When I’m honest with myself, and I hate to be morbid, but I think that’ll be once old age takes my grandmother. It’s something I hate to think about, but we just aren’t the kind of Cuban family who makes an effort to see each other very much. Still, thinking back to the stories my friends share about family drama and closeness that I’ve heard from friends over the years, a part of me feels empty and broken because I don’t have those same stories to share.

Although I loved getting to attend his wedding, I don’t foresee my cousin and I getting any closer in the coming years.

@msirinagonzalez /Instagram

The truth is that growing up far apart created more than just a physical distance between us, it’s put gap made up of emotional differences and extremely contrasting worldviews there as well. We don’t have much to talk about when we do get together and we have very different temperaments and views of the world. For one, he is a conservative gun-loving Cuban who voted for Trump, and I am quite the opposite. I struggle with being close to someone with whom I disagree with so deeply on a fundamental level, family or not.

Luckily, I am close with my immediate family. My brother and I get along extremely well and are very close. I’d call him my brother as quickly as I would call him my friend, and for that I am grateful. My parents are always there for me as well and have always been a reliable and loving presence in my life. Still, when I’m playing the toxic game of self-comparison, I can’t help but feel that as a Latina I come up a bit short. Admittedly, seeing that my family is far from large, which is often one of the big markers of our community, makes me question our own validity as Latinos.  My brother and I often joke that we have the “worst Cuban family in the world” because there’s so few of us. It makes us laugh, but deep down I know that it also makes me question my Latinidad. This self-doubt happens, even more, when I think about what my small family unit has impacted my knowledge of our Cuban culture. Our small family means that the information I have received about my culture and understanding of Cuban history comes from a pretty limited pool of resources.

While I still struggle with how my view of my small family makes me view my own identity as a “real Latina,” I am slowly adjusting my perspective.

@msirinagonzalez /Instagram

I know that, when it comes down to it, the size of my family isn’t what makes me Latina or not. It’s my background, my culture, my language, the food I eat, how I grew up, and a million other little things that make me proud of who I am. Just as I know that Latinxs come in all shapes and colors, from many different countries, and with many different backgrounds, I also know that one stereotype doesn’t make or break who we are — or determine much about my own identity.

The other thing that I have come to learn is that family is what you make of it. Although many of us are born into large families, some of us make large families of our choosing. I didn’t have a big family growing up but my circle of friends is wide and ranges in all different kinds of people of many ages and backgrounds. I’ve also found comfort in knowing what I have to look forward to: the family I am going to create with my husband, and the family I have adopted by marrying him. The truth is there are many sides to a family, and it’s not exclusive to those we are born into. Big or small, a family is best defined by the love shared — and I definitely have no lack of that.


Read: ¡Adórate! I Use Makeup As An Instrument For Intentional Self-Care And Undeniable Self-Love

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

There’s no denying that the world looks a lot different now than it did in 1947. And while the list of all of the positive changes that the decades stretching between now and then have done for the world and minorities, a recent campaign is also highlighting the ways in which our current president could take some notes on certain values the United States held dear during this time. Particularly ones that had been pressed for by one of our former presidents.

As part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” effort, he worked to promote positive and healthy relations between the United States in Latin American countries.

At the time Rooseveltaimed to ensure that the North, Central and South American countries avoided breaking under the influence of Axis countries during World War II. As part of this campaign, Roosevelt comissioned a Spanish and a Portuguese version of the U.S. national anthem. According to Time Magazine he also “recruited Hollywood to participate in this Good Neighbor Policy; Walt Disney went on goodwill tour of South America, hoping to find a new market for his films, and ended up producing two movies inspired by the trip: Saludos Amigos (1942) and The Three Caballeros (1944). The Brazilian star Carmen Miranda also got a boost, and her role in The Gang’s All Here made her even more famous in the U.S. And alongside these cross-cultural exchanges, the U.S. government decided it needed an anthem that could reach Spanish speakers.”

According to NPR, Clotilde Arias, wrote wrote the translation at the end of World War II, was born in the small Peruvian city, Iquitos in 1901 and moved to New York City to become a composer when she was 22-years-old. Her version of the anthem is now part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Now in an effort to support Latino communities affected by the coronavirus, the non-profit We Are All Human Foundation’s Hispanic Star campaign commissioned the a remake of the song.

Hoping to raise awareness of its Hispanic Recovery Plan and efforts to help to connect Hispanic small businesses and workers with resources during the pandemic, the campaign brought the old recording from obscurity.

For the song, the 2019 winner of the singing competition La Voz,  Jeidimar Rijos, performed “El Pendón Estrellado.” Or, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

The song has already received quite a bit of comments and support on Youtube.

Hang in there, fam. We can only get through this together.

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These Online Botanicas Will Satisfy The Bruja In You

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These Online Botanicas Will Satisfy The Bruja In You

With young Latinxs reclaiming the bruja identity, the demand for access to novenas, herbs and other specially crafted ritual tools has grown tremendously. Luckily, these Latinx-owned online botanicas have made it easy for brujas, or anyone who wants to dive deeper into the practice, to get their hands on the goods. Whether you’re looking to conjure up more cash flow or secure some extra protection from those pesky mal de ojos, these shops have the magia you need.

1. The Flowerchild Bruja

You know you’ve received some real tesoro when you open your delivery and see the holographic cellophane. Unmistakable and unique products are what make The Flowerchild Bruja’s shop un cielo de flores. Garden Smudge Sticks adorned with colorful flowers and loose herbs packaged in clear hearts make this online botanica a must-visit if you’re looking to manifest more love and beauty into your life.

2. Brooklyn Brujeria

No forlorn-looking saints and pale stricken Marys here! Brookyn Brujeria offers a fresh and modern take on the classic bruja necessity of novena candles. At $10 a candle, you can enhance the vibrations and style of your space without blowing all your chavo. With intentions like Boss Bitch and F*ck Outta Here, these ain’t your abuelitas’ novenas.

3. The Hoodwitch Store

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Thank you for all of your love & support to those who have been readers and customers of @thehoodwitch over the years. ♥️You know truly how hard I work and that this is my livelihood and culture. Visual art and magic ARE my life and practice. Not a peach flavored “turquoise” glitter drink. My magic is in my blood, my magic is in my ability to bring life to my visions, it is creation & destruction. Over the last 6 years, I have been so honored and lucky to be featured in some of the largest media publications internationally not limited to Instagram. This is bigger than that and the creative team for Starbucks knew that. I have personally worked on consulting large companies in their design concepts this work comes naturally to me. “So what’s the big fuss?” My personal style has become synonymous with the visual aesthetic of my brand. No, I absolutely did not “invent” the crystal balls nor acrylic nails but What I created was a space for myself along with other POC to feel represented and have visual imagery that was representative of us. The colorful candles of my local botanicas, my gold jewelry, and my long nails clutching my crystals are certainly not “new” but to see them presented in a manner that I shared visually in this space was. Katherine de Vos Devine @devosdevine is a lawyer and art historian who wrote a powerful and insightful look as to what exactly is happening with this situation and we are sharing it in our story today because more than anything she truly gives the full tea of the situation. I can strip away the crystal balls, the nail art, and delete all of my beautifully curated photos but I will always be me, I will always be my grandmother’s voices and wisdom. I will create, and I will always know my value and my worth. I trust and believe that my ancestors and my guides are looking after me. These giants may have the money to bully artists, creatives, and small business but we know the truth and absolutely must not allow it. As a small business owner, I appreciate you standing with us in this uphill journey and even if it goes nowhere, at the end of the day I can laugh to myself knowing that Starbucks made a drink inspired by HW 🔮

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If you’re in the market for an obsidian scrying mirror, unique tarot decks or nail polish for your mystic manos, then The Hoodwitch Store is your one-stop bruja shop. Be sure to also check out the Bruja Bookshop tab, where you’ll find vintage, one-of-a-kind libros to up your witchy wisdom. The shop offers some rare finds en español as well. However, make sure you stay up to date on the latest inventory. These goods sell out fast!

4. House of Intuition

If you live in LA, you’ve most likely heard of House of Intuition. With four brick and mortar stores throughout the area, plus an online shop, it’s probably a wise investment to grab one of their “Success” intention candles. Their beautifully colored novenas aren’t the only reason to check out the shop, though. Seriously, this casa is staked with everything from crystals skulls, cauldrons and wands to a line called “Hair Mystics” featuring crystal-infused hair mists. You’ll be glad your intuition led you here.  

5. Lunar Magic Shop

Lunar Magic Shop is the super affordable and super thoughtful shop with some of our favorite bruja apparel. You will for sure want to grab the “My Mom Will Hex You” tee for the little one in your life or the “I Am My Own Sacred Place” one for yourself. While you’re at it, you might as well secure the “Motherhood”and “Student” crystal kit bags. This small shop definitely has the whole family’s brujeria needs in mind.

6. Curandera Press

While this shop is currently taking a small hiatus, they will re-launch on August 1. This gives us time to save up for a big vela haul. We could all use some divine intervention with lazy lovers and bad hair days, right? With Curandera Press’ “No Mas Amante Perezoso” and “Good Hair Day” velas, your prayers are answered. We’re excited to see what intentions they roll out next.

Read: In These Trying Times, Boricua Bruja Emilia Ortiz Provides A Digital Space For Healing

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