Category — spanglish

Some Hip-Hop

What is hip-hop to you?

Is it black?  Is it white?  Is it brown?  Is it rich?  Is it poor?  East coast?  West coast?  South side?  Is it Snoop and Dre, or is it Tribe and WU?  Is it bling and success?  Or is it struggle and pain?  Can we still hear it today?  Or de we have to go back a few years…or even decades?

If the above doesn’t really make any sense, I’ll try to explain.  For BrandLateen purposes, the important thing to know is that true Hip-Hop is the one music that tells the intricate stories of unpredictable inner-city life.  Samples from jazz and blues rhythms, mixed with heavy beats and harsh lyrics, the music has experience rapid evolution since its inception almost 40 years ago.  Most Hip-Hop artists are black, and the majority of songs are written from an African-American cultural perspective.  A handful of black artists and fanatics will argue that musicians of other races robbed the black culture of one of its creations.  That’s a radical argument considering it’s a music that originally sprung from a passion for exaggerated, emotional expression (like most music, arguably).  But the real students of Hip-Hop understand that it’s an art form that bridges and transcends cultures.  After all, inner-city life is a culture in itself, infused in all of its inhabitants, regardless of background.

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September 10, 2010   1 Comment

My Technological World

The following serves as a supplement to the previous entry, “MySpace vs. Facebook.”  Please note that this is a personal recount of a single Lateen’s experience.

It’s no secret that technology is known to make things easier. It’s known to make things work faster without the same physical effort. It’s also known that my generation takes adavantage of technology and uses it constantly. My generation is different, my generation is who will make a better tomorrow for everyone else.

At school, at work, and at home I am involved in so many different activities, from academic clubs, sport teams to volunteer services. I can honestly say that nothing would be possible without my cell phone and laptop. After a while of being so involved, I have learned to network and meet new people. I’ve learned that unfortunately, the truth is most of the time it’s not who you are, it’s who you know. This brings me to my experience with technology and how my friends and I use it.

I recently created an account on Facebook. I already had a MySpace page, but joining Facebook was a necessary thing to do because all the “older” important contacts I have made along the way only have a Facebook page. Personally, I think they think it’s professional. Throughout history, the human species has transformed constantly to meet its enviroment in an effort to survive. Clearly now people are not adapting to eating wild berries like cavemen did long ago, but people are still adapting. For example just a few years ago, friends exchanged beeper numbers.  Now, not only can you contact someone with the click of a button, but with a few more clicks, you can see documentation of their personal lives.

As I’ve said before I attend W.H Adamson High School. My school is roughly 95 percent Hispanic. It’s a small school with about 1,000 students total. Since it’s so small and mostly made up of people from the neighborhood many of us know each other very well. I was recently elected Senior Class President and to be honest there is a lot to the job. That said, I love it because I love being a leader, but a leader is no one if he or she has no followers. So when I have an idea, I like to get feedback from everyone before I make a decision. This makes others happy, and contacting all students would be hard, but now, in 2010, it’s quite easy. I communicate with my friends through mass text messages, and in turn they continue to forward them to anyone who might be interested. I can also chat with them on MySpace or send an event invitation on Facebook. All this technology makes it easier to inform everyone or make new plans simultaneously. [Read more →]

August 13, 2010   No Comments

Lateen Workers

The following entry serves as a second part to the previous entry, “A Lateen in a Latin Country.”

I think anyone with a good set of eyes can tell blue apart from red, yellow from green and white from brown. In my short week at Costa Rica it was obvious to many of the locals that I was different from the majority of the other Americans I was traveling with. Not just because of my personality, but because of the color of my skin. Although the group I was with did an awesome job, the locals of Parismina asked so many questions about what they do at home because, as they insisted, it seemed like they had never worked a day in their lives. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great group of people and all of the tasks we took charge of, we finished together. I really don’t think there is a group with more heart. But as I interacted with some of my new friends from places like Canada and Colorado, I was shocked by a turn in the conversation.

“Adan, you are a very motivated and ambitious guy,” one said. I smiled and said “I just want a better life for myself and my parents.” She smiled and responded “I wish that I had a reason to push myself more, or at least to be hungry for something better.” This struck me, and very curious, I had to ask, “Why?”

“Everything has been handed to me all my life. I really do not know the meaning of hard work besides school work.” We both laughed, but I can’t manage to forget her words. I know I cannot speak in generalities, but I came to the conclusion that many other non-ethnic groups really don’t know the meaning of working hard to survive in this greedy world, or at least in the United States of America. [Read more →]

August 5, 2010   No Comments

A Lateen in a Latin Country.

Visiting another house isn’t always the easiest or most comfortable thing to do. Now, in case you haven’t already, imagine visiting a country. Meeting new people can be challenging, so think about meeting over 100 individuals and living in the same space with them for over 300 hours. Sounds scary I know, but I can honestly say that my recent experience in Costa Rica was one that made me grow into a better person.

It all started Friday, July 16 at 4 in the morning, maybe even earlier since I couldn’t fall asleep due to excitement. I got up, looked around my room, and noticed my blue backpack, a small luggage bag full to the brim, my money next to my passport, and my ID. Before I knew it I was hugging my dad and saying my goodbye.

Shortly after, I got a hug myself, but it was actually just the security guard wrapping his arms around me as he searched me (a little too slowly I might add) at the DFW Airport. First stop: Houston. I felt like we arrived there as soon as I closed my eyes. I continued to absorb my surroundings. And all of a sudden it hit me – I was all on my own. After a couple of hours I was finally walking onto the next plane. I made sure I had both of my cameras and my cell phone. I knew the island wasn’t going to have signal for my mobile, but I carried it to listen to music. Hours after I buckled up, the plane’s captain made two announcements: First, to be courteous to the people next to you. Second, to enjoy the first view of the Costa Rican coast. [Read more →]

August 4, 2010   1 Comment

Am I Latina Enough?

Am I Latina enough? That was the question. I decided that the best way for me to try to come to grips with my new-found “mini identity crisis” was to talk to my parents about it. If anyone can help me understand where I fit on the Latina spectrum, surely it would be the people that raised me.

I started filling them in on my hesitation, when my dad says to me, “So, are you finally going to start being a Latina?” Thanks Dad—all my doubts are now confirmed—or so I thought. My mom’s take on the situation is a bit different. We’ve never really talked about our cultural identity, but now that the subject has been brought up, the floodgates are opened. I learned that my mother and I share the same struggles about where we fit in as Latinas.

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July 26, 2010   2 Comments

You Never Stop Learning a Language

People don’t really ever stop learning a language.  Even for the unilingual, it’s a continual process throughout life.  Yes, at one point most people reach what they might consider a “peak,” but there always remain phrases and words unknown – even to the wiser folks who have been around for decades.  When you apply this theory to immigrant families who bear children in the U.S., the phenomenon is twofold.

From personal experience, I can say that a native Spanish speaker and a native English speaker with a familial bond will always be teaching one another their languages for the duration of their relationship.  My mom is from North Carolina, my dad from Puebla, Mexico.  For the most part, I grew up speaking Spanish, while understanding English.  The conversations between my dad and myself were completely in Spanish, and when Mom asked me a question in English, I would answer her question correctly … in Spanish.  It’s not that I couldn’t speak English.  I just refused to.  But once I hit about 5 or 6, English got a little more attention.  I began attending American schools with American children, and sat in classes with American teachers.  If I wanted to get along during those early years, speaking the English language was inevitable, and Spanish was soon left behind.

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July 21, 2010   No Comments

Problems/difficulty of translating to Parents.

The following entry serves as another personal recount of the struggle Lateens face when they’re assigned the role of “translator” for their families.  This is a supplement to a previous entry titled “Little Adults.”

Unity is power. Since early chilhood my dad invoked the belief that our family (he defined our family as my three brothers, Julio, Fabian, Eric and my mom, Zenaida) should always do what’s best for the family. Even if it involves one NOT doing what he/she desires in order to make the family happy. This is an unwritten law that we go by, no exceptions, and no allowance for doing something different. This way of thinking, ironically, has led to much improvement in our lives. Even though my dad is the guy that makes the decisions for all of us, before he does we discuss our opinions as a family. That’s what the system has been for a very long time. But the truth is it’s not really an option. This system is further complicated by my dad’s one obstacle that makes him ask my brothers or me for help, and that is when he needs a translation. Although he can speak and read the English language to a certain degree, and is one of the smartest people I know, he needs help sometimes, especially when things get tricky like words with double meaning.

I have so many experiences with my family involving their lack of understanding English. As a child I remember going to the bank where my dad was served by a non-Spanish speaking employee and it was difficult to watch him become frustrated when they made the wrong transactions. All because they didn’t understand what he was trying to say. When we go out to eat, my dad’s English occasionally is misunderstood to the point that he gets the wrong order. When my mom would go to the store to return an item and they couldn’t understand her, she would just leave the store without doing what she needed to do. When she goes to teacher conferences, she often struggles to understand everything that is said. We have also been pulled over by the police, and when this happens both of them become so afraid. Not afraid because they did anything wrong, but because they did not know how to defend themselves or even ask why they were pulled over. Those are only a few of the experiences I encountered as a younger child. A couple of years ago there was a major change – I learned English and Spanish well enough to translate.

To be honest, at moments in the beginning, I enjoyed the responsibility of translating for my parents. I loved ordering pizza, or explaining my report card to them. Unfortunately as I grew older it began to get more complicated because I was learning more and more English. A great example is when we were on the road and I had to ask for directions. I didn’t know what highways meant or avenues actually were because I didn’t drive. So then I would tell my parents the little that I understood and we would get lost, making the situation even more frustrating. As I continued to get older I started to make purchases and payments online and I didn’t understand how to explain the procedures properly, but my parents would get mad thinking I was just being lazy and didn’t want to help. That’s not the case at all, but I’m only a teenager! My parents receive letters from businesses and the government and I need to tell them what they say. This is even harder because I don’t understand the content. It’s stuff I shouldn’t have to understand and they get mad and blame me for not knowing enough. [Read more →]

June 28, 2010   4 Comments

Is ESL good for Lateens?

A man of awesome personality and the winner of my trust, Raul Gonzalez, my father, made numerous life choices for me when I was younger. And even today he continues to influence my decisions. All over the country children of the appropriate age are getting ready to start kindergarten and their parents are making the decisions about which elementary school they will attend. Nothing is unusual about this process. However for Lateen parents there is another step, another choice they must make, and it’s a choice that is essential to our future.

My dad’s expectations have allowed me to never settle for good when I can be the best and I thank him because it has helped me develop into a well-rounded person. I wasn’t born lucky, everything I have achieved has taken a lot of sacrifice and hard work. To me and many others, being well-rounded means excelling in sports, academics and leadership roles. But to my dad it takes a little more.  To him, being well-rounded means not only excelling in the areas I just mentioned, but also doing it in two languages: English and Spanish.

Years ago, my dad faced the choice I mentioned earlier. Because of his beliefs about what it means to be well-rounded he made the choice of teaching me and my brothers Spanish and making it our first language at home, even though the country where we were born is English-based. From the first words I was taught, my accent was formed and as I enrolled in school my dad made sure I was learning more Spanish than English criteria. This type of learing is officially called English as a Second Language (ESL).

What exactly is ESL? It’s the provision of appropriate educational support, particularly for kids who come from a language background other than English or speak a language other than English at home as their main language. Many Lateens, like myself, start the first years of school in an ESL environment, and as we continue with our education catching up with English-only speakers becomes a little challenging. Learning in ESL classes is hard because when we learn something in Spanish, we then need to translate the knowledge into English and learn it again. It’s double duty! Lateens struggle mainly in the area of vocabulary. Many of us also struggle with the tenses we use to write papers and essays. The brutal truth is that we write the way we speak. [Read more →]

June 17, 2010   3 Comments

Cypress Hill, Marc Anthony, Pitbull and…Crosby, Stills and huh?

Last week marked the release of Cypress Hill’s latest album Rise Up. Before the release of the full album, the group led with the release of the popular single “Armada Latina.”  The song features Marc Anthony and Pitbull, and samples from the famous 1969 hit “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” by Crosby, Stills and Nash. Cypress Hill, the first Latin hip-hop group to go platinum, consists of B-Real and Sen Dog who are both Cuban-American. Pitbull, another popular Cuban-American musician. Marc Anthony is a Puerto Rican Latin and American Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter, actor and producer. All three artists have dominated the charts, and it’s incredible when such a collaboration like this happens in Latin music. Another prideful song is created, and the culture keeps flowing. But why would this song’s chorus and main hook be sampled from a rock song from 1969 sung by three American hippies? At first I thought it was because it was just a catchy, well known tune. No.

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April 26, 2010   2 Comments

Set a Trend

It might be time to once again talk about how Lateens tend to be trendsetters. When asked, our high school group verified that while they shop for a varied array of brands, they’re not partial to a certain one. They also mentioned that even though they mix and match fashions, they still try to maintain a personal style that says something about who they are. It’s a thought out process, and they don’t want to look like anyone else, which is funny, because a lot of times teens seem more inclined to follow trends than to set them. Whether it’s Nike, Ecko, Adidas, or Polo, there’s a single style that emerges from all of these. And along with it comes an attitude and a feeling. Looking cool is important to young people, and for Lateens, a clean and distinct look says something about status, and about how attuned you may be with the culture. Their style is an urban one, and as this segment grows, it’s a style that will soon become a staple of the mainstream culture of the American youth.

April 13, 2010   1 Comment