Music: The Art of Story Telling

Music is  “is an art form whose medium is sound and silence.” Music has been around since ancient times. Music was in fact an integral part of greek-musical-instrumentsGreek and even Roman culture. Professional musicians were valued members of society and  musical education was an important part of the training of elites. Music was regarded as a sign of culture and taste. Today music continues to be a great part of society. However, throughout the years music has been influenced and changed, which have lead to the different genres today: Hip hop, pop, indie, jazz, rock,  latin, etc.

In Mexico, one popular type of music are corridos. A corrido is a popular narrative song in poetry form. Corridos are often about oppression, history, daily life for peasants, and other socially important information. This type of genre goes  back to the Mexican Revolution. A corrido from this time period that continues to be popular today is “La Adelita.”  La Adelita is the story of a young woman in love with a sergeant who travels with him and his regiment. This corriedo was composed in honor of the heroic women who dedicated their  lives to the Revolution by joining the war efforts on the battlefield.

Today, this genre continues to prosper in Mexico. Although corridos have changed, they continue to be narrative songs. However, most corridos now tend to be about drug dealers. These corridos are known as “narco-corridos.” There are other corridos based on other subjects like immigrants crossing the frontear. Many Hispanics cross the border every year and many die in the attempt of reaching the Amercian Dream. images3Corridos often narrate these unfortunate stories. Sadly, immigration is more than a corrido inspiration, these corridos are real life events. Hispanics cross the border in the dream of reaching and achieving a better life than the one they left behind. Many are not fortunate to step foot on the other side of the border and the ones that do, often face obstacles. It is not easy being in a country that is not yours. However, music is always there to bring back memories and make Hispanics feel at home.

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Hispanic Architecture: A world of Creativity

Since I was little I enjoyed drawing and with time my t turned into a passion. I drew every chance I had, specially when I had school projects that needed images and visuals. However, it wasn’t until high school that I became involved in the art department. These were the best two years of my high school experience. To complement my art skills I took a few art history classes to learn about all the different art movements and civilizations that have, somehow, impacted the arts. This was when I was first exposed to architecture, the art that is a science. Now, not only do I love to draw but I have grown to love the arts, from sculpture, painting, and theater, to architecture.

If we go back in time and observe what is left of ancient Mesoamerica architecture, we can observe how magnificent these structures are. Mesoamerican civilizations relied on slab techniques and stone to build beautiful pyramids, tombs, and even ball-courts. Although Mesoamericans did not have advanced technology like we do now, they managed to build impeccable peaces of art and architecture like Chichen Itza or Teotihuacan. With the arrival of the Spanish in Mexico the art and architecture was influenced. Upon arrival, the Spanish situated a cathedral, Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de María, atop the former Aztec sacred precinct near the Templo Mayor. The Mexico City Cathedral, which was inspired from the Spanish Gothic cathedrals, was the start of change in the art and architecture in Mexico. With time Mexico continue to see different architectural styles such as Churrigueresque. Churrigueresque is a Spanish Baroque style of elaborate sculptural architectural ornament which emerged as a manner of stucco decoration in Spain. Churrigueresque is marked by extreme, expressive and florid decorative detailing, normally found above the entrance on the main facade of a building.

Now, Hispanics continue to thrive in architecture not only in Latin America but throughout the world. Cesar Pelli,  is an Argentine architect known for designing some of the world’s tallest buildings and other major urban landmarks. The Petrona Twin Towers, commercial offices, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia are probably the most well known structures by Pelli. The Petrona Twin Towers have a distinctive postmodern style that create a 21st century icon.This is one of the many amazing architectural structures designed by Hispanic architects. Without a doubt Hispanics have the potential and creativity to design great buildings not just to create something beautiful but to improve our living space.

During the past few years I have gained so much knowledge on ancient and modern art and architecture. During the past few years as I moved out of my parents and ventured to the outside world, I have also noticed that we Hispanics are often categorized as lazy and seen as subordinates. However, Hispanics are hard workers that thrive and step by step prosper in this unfamiliar country. Hispanics are a growing community in the United States and more of us go on to continue a higher education. Even though we are perceived as subordinates, we have much to offer.

Dia de los Muertos: An Ancient Tradition

Today, people in the US celebrate a rather fun holiday: Halloween. While I loved going out trick-or-treating as a child and still enjoy going down to Sixth Street to see people that dressed up for the ocassion, I’m Hispanic and our customs are different. In the Hispanic culture we celebrate “Dia de los muertos” or Day of the Dead. This is a holiday when those who have passed away are commemorated by their families and loved ones. However, there is more to this holiday. Dia de los muertos having roots to ancient Mesoamerica and other sources that have shaped the tradition.

Dia de los muertos has roots from different sources, one of them being ancient Mesoamerica. In ancient times ancestry was essential to Mesoamerican culture. Ancestry in ancient times did not always concern with lienage and beloging to the elite. Civilizations like the Zapotecs venerated their ancestors because they served as intermediaries between the dead and living. Even though their ancestors were dead they could give advice and guide their family. In return the family of the deceased often made offerings to the dead. This is similar to the ofrendas dedicated to the dead. In the present day, families set up ofrendas with pictures of the deceased, “cempasuchil” flowers,  “pan de muerto,” sugar or chocolate skulls, fruits, and the deceased’s favorite foods. This ofrendas are set up once a year to commemorate the dead on November 1st and 2nd. It is said in the Mexican culture that during these days the dead make themselves present. The deceased show up to the ofrenda to eat the offerings their families have presented them with. In both, ancient and present times commemorating the dead is necessary to show appreciation. As seen, the the relationship between the living and the dead was important in ancient times and continues to be.

However, Dia de los muertos does not only concern with ofrendas. The Day of the Dead is often seen as a time for frightment. Everyone loves watching a movie that won’t let you sleep at night or hear horror stories that give you goose bumps. During this time is common for people to watch scary movies that play in certain TV channels or tell “leyendas” such as la “Llorona” or events that happened to them or in the town where they live. When I lived in Mexico as a kid, I remember gathering around with the whole family or just the kids. At first everything started as a conversation or joking around and suddenly someone started telling a story. My favorite stories to hear where events that happened within the family. One of these stories is about my grandma, my dad’s mom. My dad’s family owns a movie theater that used to be popular back in the day when it was still running. During this time my grandma was still young. She recalls walking out of their house with a bucket and crossing to the other side of the property to get water. When she got to the other side she remembers seeing small creatures dancing around a fire. At first she was in awe as she did not know what these creatures were. She observed and realize she was in th presence of “duendes” or elves. Once these creatures realized she was there they stoped dancing and looked at her. My grandma’s first reaction was to run back to the house. Even though I was not there when this happened I could imagine the horror and anxiety she felt.  I have always been intrigued by these family stories and what made them better was the ambiance of the season.

Without a doubt holidays are important among cultures. Hispanics celebrate the Day of the Dead and Americans celebrate Halloween. Even though these holidays share some similarities like trick-or-treating, these holidays are very different. As Hispanics continue migrating to the US, we start adapting the American culture and forgeting ours. It is noticeable how Hispanics are most likely to celebrate Halloween than to continue celebrating the dead. It’s great that we are able to acculturate but it’s sad that we forget our own culture in the process. Unfortunately, this is something we Hispanics have to deal with for the reason that we don’t belong here but want to fit in.

Reminiscing: Childhood Memories

In days like today when I find myself alone at home I reminisce of my childhood . I’m sure I speak for many of us when I say that I miss being a kid and not having stress or things to worry about but most importantly, I miss my homeland, the place where I grew up. Like many Hispanics, I too was born in a foreign country and was brough to the United States at a young age. Nevertheless, I lived most of my childhood in Mexico and most of my memories are from there.

When I’m home alone or when I find myself overwhelemed or full of sorrow I wish I could be a kid again. At times like this I want time to stop, rewind itself and take me back when everything was happiness and joy. I can still remember when my mom woke me up early every Sunday and got me ready to go visit grandma and the rest of her side of the family. Even though I always dislike waking up so early I did not mind so much because I got to watch “Chabelo,” a Mexican show primarily target to children that aired every Sunday. After the show was over my mom and I walked to the bus stop to catch the bus that took us from our house in Zumpango to grandma’s house in San Juan Zitlaltepec. I always enjoyed going to grandma’s house primarily because of one reason: my cousins. When I was young I got along with all my cousins and even found myself playing soccer or marbles with the boys. They never minded me playing with them. But I didn’t always play with the boys. Sometimes, or most of the time, I followed around my older cousin Erika. At the time I only had two girl cousins, Erika and Mariela, on my mom’s side. Unfortunately I never got along with Mariela. For this reason I spent a lot of my Sundays with Erika. Erika spoiled me alot by either buying me candy or taking me to the store to play video games. She was great! Without a doubt I enjoyed spending time with her. However, it wasn’t all about fun and games all the time. There were times when Erika had chores to do around the house like cleaning or helping getting things ready for supper. One of my favorite memories is one of the many times when we played hide and seek in the corn field. Since we were little it was hard to play because the corn field was fully grown and it was hard to get around and easy to get lost in the field. By the end of the game we sat by the “pila,” a large stone container where water is stored. Right infront the pila there was a fully grown guava tree. I remember being hungry and tired from all that running around. We sat under the shade of the tree and a while later we asked grandma if we could take some of the guavas. With a smile on her face she said yes. Erika and I jumped on our feet and started looking for the best guavas. We were so young and little that we weren’t able to reach the guavas so we asked my mom for help. She chuckled for a minute. Then pleasantly walked towards the tree to grabbed the guavas that hung from the highest branches. Erika and I were placing the guavas in a basket that we found nearby when I heard someone calling. I looked up to see my aunt Olivia approaching us. She immediately told us to pick up our mess and send Erika to do more chores. Even though I was young I got mad at this. This was the only day I got to see Erika and only day I could play. My aunt was ruining my weekend. I remember making a remark about my aunt not wanting to do what was her job and instead sending Erika. She was frustrated at this remark and went to tell my mom about the incident. The point is that this small remark ended up being a huge argument between my aunt, my mom, and my grandma. My grandma knew my aunt was pretty lazy and would do anything to get out of doing things herself so she took my mom’s side. My aunt frustrated at the situation got her kid, Mariela, and left. Until this day there still is some of that sibling rivalry between my mom and aunt that stops them from getting along. This story is not the happiest story or memory, however, everytime I remember it I start giggling. It makes me go back to the sweet old days when I was back home “misbehaving” and just being a kid.

This is something we Hispanics in the United States go through. We live in a foreign country and the only thing we have left from our home country is our loved ones back home and our memories. These memories are what makes things worth while and motivate us to keep going. This country can sometimes be harsh to us and makes us feel unwanted and like we don’t belong. There is not a day that the thought of going back home does not cross my mind. Then the thought of being used to all these commodities and better opportunities follows the first thought. But most importantly, I have grown to see the United States as a second home and I’m unsure of being able to get used to the different lifestyle if I was to go back. This is a constant internal conflict not only I but most Hispanics face.

Culture: A Broken Link

Culture is very important in every country. Culture is what distinguishes individuals from all over the world and most importantly, culture is the backbone for traditions, beliefs, and customs. Culture is passed down from generation to generation. All my traditions, beliefs, and customs were taught to me by my parents and family. However, I grew up in the United States, like many other kids, and because of this I was and continue to be exposed to the American culture and other cultures. Experiencing and coming into contact with these other cultures has influenced me to become an open-minded individual. I not only identify myself with my own culture but also with certain tradition, beliefs, and customs from others cultures. I have come to realize that I been growing up taking cultural ideas I believe in and identify myself with and leaving the rest.  Although doing this has expanded my views on different situations and I have acquired knowledge about these other cultures, I recently found myself in a significant cultural struggle .

Ever since I was a little girl I remember watching novelas with my mom. In her novelas it was normal to see a couple madly in love that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. The couple loved each other so much that they either a) ran away to be together or b) got married. If the choice was to get married the groom, as the gentleman that he is, would go talk to the bride’s parents to ask for her hand. Now, this is not something that just happens in the novelas. According to my family and our values this is the right way to do it. In the Mexican culture it is expected for the groom to present himself and his parents to the bride’s parents for the approval of the marriage. Another common belief seen in the Mexican culture is that the offspring don’t move out as soon as they turn 18 years old. It is most common for the offspring to live with the parents until they get married. There are the few times that even after married, the male offsprings take their bride to live with them in their parents’ house. These beliefs are strong in the Mexican culture or at least in my family they are.

If anyone was to ask my parents about me, without a doubt they would tell you that I’m a hard worker, a bit nerdy and head over heels with Japan and other Asian cultures. They would also tell you that I’m dedicated to my studies and won’t give up until I achieve my goals. This is the way I have been all my life. My parents are strict and since I was little they always were there making sure I strived. My parents raised me to be a well behaved young lady. However, I let loose this past summer. Like every summer, I went to summer school but I did not just focus on that. This summer everything was different. I went to school in the morning, worked in the evening and on my days off I went out with my friends or co-workers. There wasn’t a week when I didn’t go out. This caught my parents off guard and they freaked out about it. They had never expected this from me. At first they tried talking to me and eventually it got to the point to where they started threatening me about kicking me out. Nevertheless, I kept going out. I liked the freedom I felt and I wasn’t so stressed out like always. It was a great feeling. This, however, is not the end of it. Everything got a lot more complicated when I got serious with a guy from the group of people I went out with. We spent every time possible together even if it was late at night, we worked with what we had. Like expected, my parents were not happy with this.

It wasn’t until this summer that I mentioned to my parents that I wanted to move out and that I was going to do it as soon as possible. They were already upset with me because of my continuous outings. Therefore, moving out seem like the best choice to fix my “misbehavior.” Little did I know this would make things worse for me. As mentioned earlier, moving out is not something Mexican families do. Immediately after I brought up the subject I got lectured about not being American and that these are not our customs. I had so much going on that I kept distance and did not mention anything for a while until the storm calmed down. Everything seemed to be going smoothly again until the end of August when I told my parents that Aaron and I were moving in together. At first my parents did not take this well. They opposed my plans. However, after I talked to them they accepted the idea. Deep inside they knew I’m not a little girl anymore and sooner or later I was bound to leave the nest and start my own life. At this point I thought everything was resolved. Was I wrong! Now, the issue was that we were planning of forming a life of our own and Aaron had not yet talked to them. My parents were strongly offended by this. They kept talking to me and they seem ok when he came over to visit me. However, my dad mentioned that if I moved and Aaron did not man up to talk to him then I shouldn’t count him in and I was on my own. Obviously, I did not want to leave in bad terms and most importantly I did not want to be a stranger with the man that has been there for me my entire life. Finally the big day came and I was excited and completely afraid of what was to come. It was a Monday night when we went to my parents’ place to get my stuff. As I packed my clothes and everything I needed to take with me my younger sister walked into my room and said “Aaron my parents would like to speak with you.” I felt my heart drop when I heard these words. I didn’t know what to do or expect. Aaron got up and walked to the living room as I continued packing. I couldn’t completely hear everything they talked about which made me even more nervous. After a long conversation I heard laughter and the  ambiance felt a lot calmer. Then I knew my parents had spoken their mind. It was then that I understood that to me moving out seemed perfectly normal and it wasn’t that big of a deal. Afterall, I’m an adult and I’m capable of supporting myself. But was I wrong, all this time it wasn’t about being old enough or being able to live on my own but our cultural beliefs. They were expecting Aaron, if he really was serious about me, to talk to them and tell them his plans with me. They wanted to hear that he would take care of their little girl, that he would be there for me and be patient with me, afterall I’m their first born and it was difficult for them to let go.

I was born in foreign land and I grew up in a mixture of Mexican and American cultures. This shaped my views differently from those of my parents and family. Because of this I live a different lifestyle. However, living in a different country does not make me any less Mexican and there are customs, beliefs, and traditions that must never be forgotten for they are of my cultural background.

Inhospitable Hospitality: An Unappreciated Minority

I been working in the hospitality industry for the past 15 months. This was my first job ever so at the time it was exciting and nerve wrecking. As time passed I started seeing and experiencing the annoying and frustrating situations in a restaurant business. One of these situations is getting stiffed or getting a really bad tip. All my co-workers, including me, and others in the industry hate this. As this situation continues to happen a trend can be seen: serves are bound to get stiffed or badly tipped when guests are Latinos or African-Americans, to name a few.

Although this statement can be true to an extent, servers start over generalizing and sometimes this leads to stereotyping.  This is an everyday issue, I’ve seen it happen. I understand it is frustrating when we get stiffed or run around for a mediocre tip but not all Latinos are the same, so should we, the servers, treat everyone the same? I am a Latina myself and it bothers me when I hear racist comments at work and even worse, when I go out to eat with family or friends and get bad service because I’m Hispanic.

I have two examples that I want to share. The first example happened at work. There never fails to be a time when I don’t hear the statement “your people” or “blah, blah Mexicans.”  While I try to ignore this it still is aggravating. First of all, just because we Latinos, have dark skin and speak Spanish, it does not mean we all are Mexicans. It feels that this is one of the many reasons to why Americans and others don’t like Mexicans or have bad attitudes towards them. It is understandable for servers to be upset for it is not fair for them to do all this hard work to provide the customer with a great dinning experience and not be properly compensated. However, it’s not fair of them to generalize and make such comments to show their dislike. It is offensive to others mainly when you are Latino or of Latino decent. Plus, just because a server encountered  a bad experience it does not mean your next latino table won’t leave a decent tip.

The next experience happened during this summer break not too far from campus. It was one of those days when I had been running around campus so I stopped for a bite before heading to the School of Liberal Arts. I walked in to a nearby restaurant and asked for a table for myself. I sat there for at least ten to fifteen minutes without being greeted. There was a few servers but I didn’t know whose section I was sitting in. After a long time of wait a guy approached me and asked if anyone had been with me yet and offered to get me a drink. When he came back with the drink a girl approached and asked if I was ready to order. This was the same girl who had been cleaning her other tables and took drinks to a table that had been sited  minutes after I had been sat. By the time she approached me she had already taken this other table’s order. I wasn’t furious about this but it did make me feel like I was inferior. Little did she know I do the same job to get through college and I know what it is like. I decided to not make a big deal. I  took a few bites,  gave her my card, asked for a box and left. Although,  I felt like the girl did not deserve a tip I decided to leave a good tip anyway. I figured karma would get her back.  My point is that regardless of what the person looks like the server should always provide the same service to all customers.

Whether Latinos are bad tippers or not, we all deserve to be treated with dignity. Because society continues to judge a book by its cover we fail to see the potential of this social group. The Latinos are a growing community and whether we like it or not they are part of the diversity this country and economy.