things that matter

Reclaiming Mi Cultura

In 2018, speaking Spanish in America has consequences. This week, two American women were detained by a border patrol agent in Montana for simply having a conversation at a gas station. Last week, attorney Aaron Schlossberg of New York went on a tirade against workers of a deli. His complaint was the employees’ use of the Spanish language. It’s no surprise that some white Americans are feeling more entitled to expressing their ignorance and scorn towards Latinx. President Trump, himself, referred to immigrants illegally in the US as “animals, not people” just last week. The current administration uses fear as a tactic to legislate and promote ideas that are overtly racist and xenophobic. We’ve been privy to this agenda since Trump proclaimed that Mexico wasn’t “sending their best.” As an American who supports our founding principle that all are created equal, I’m outraged. As a Chicana, I’m called to question what Latinx Americans like myself have lost in generations prior as a result of such ignorance and contempt and what we stand to further lose if this administration has its way.

I am the daughter of a Mexican immigrant and a Mexican American who has struggled to learn our family’s native tongue.

I grew up in a majority white middle-class neighborhood and never quite “sounded” the part to many either. Growing up, our elders spoke Spanish to each other when they wanted us to not understand what they were saying. I picked up phrases, the curse words, and some cultura via Los Lobos, Cheech Marin, and Linda Ronstadt. But for the most part, my Spanish has been something that I’ve struggled to learn fluently.

I’m a product of years of assimilation, brought on by fear of oppression and a need to survive. My grandparents were Protestants who spoke Spanish but were experts of the code switch. As Texans in the early 20th century, their mission as Chicanos was to blend in. And to this aim— the aim for survival, for prosperity, for better lives for their offspring— my ancestors “Americanized” themselves. They kept the language at home. They kept the food close to their hearts. Some changed their names. They aimed for whiteness because it was the accepted base line for normalcy. And with the path they carved for future generations, the culture was buried within us.

Now that we are living in a retro-racist society, one that rallies to “Make America Great Again” (a call to arms for all who embrace white supremacy) it’s time for “Americanized” Latinx like myself to find and embrace the ever-present and leftover seeds of our cultura.

If white supremacists are to be unapologetic with their backward thinking than I am determined to equally resolute and proud.

Because like many Latinx, I am the living embodiment of dreams imagined by generations of soldiers, business owners, mothers, and heroes. This is why I’ve started the long journey of taking back my culture, and nurturing it gently in the ground to watch it grow and rise.

It won’t be easy. It will mean learning and speaking Spanish and openly admitting “Necessito practicar” to anyone who will have patience in the fact that I don’t have my past and present tenses differentiated. It will mean teaching my son the language that his ancestors were afraid to teach their children because of small men like Aaron Schlossberg. It will take cooking the recipes my grandmother left behind, and trying to honor her in replicating the tastes and sharing them with my friends and family. It will mean continuing to reflect on my family’s stories of what it must have been like to be a Mexican immigrant, or a Mexican-American in a blatantly racist 20th century, trying to raise a family. It will take immersing myself in the parts of the culture I want to take forward and grow in my own family. Mi cultura is feminism, and intersection, and embracing and understanding our beliefs. It’s supporting businesses and art created by Latinx and working to elevate our cause. It’s educating myself about and fighting for legislation that helps my community. It will take writing our stories, again and again, and speaking our truth.

It will take understanding what our cultura means to me.

I recall the day my husband and I went to the DMV after we were married. After waiting for hours, we were told we’d need an annulment for me to add both my married and maiden names to my license since only my husband’s name was on our marriage certificate. I cried. I wasn’t prepared to lose this part of my heritage. Although proud to be gaining my husband’s Jewish name, I mourned the badge of cultura that my family name had allowed me to openly parade. I thought my identity as a Mexican American woman was based on superficial things like name and language, but now I realize it’s so much more. For me, cultura is a combination of how and what we were taught, how we love, and what we believe and teach our children.


Read: 25 Things I Want To Say To My 25-Year-Old Self Now That I’m Over 30

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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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