At the age of six, I remember not knowing what the Spanish language was. How could this be? Growing in a Spanish-speaking only household, this was nearly impossible. I remember visiting with my dad one weekend when I was approached by an older lady who asked if I spoke Spanish. To my fathers anguish, I responded "No Hablo hespanol." (Said of course, with a very gringo accent.) Little did I know what awaited me on the ride home. I had the scolding of my life. It wasn't a lesson taught by a paliza, but a sharp and witty tongue lashing. The scars of that scolding forced me to retake speaking Spanish and eventually help shape who I've become.
When I grew older and the urge to find who I was became a desperate need, I began to open my heart to the beauty that la ciudad de Los Angeles offered. The forced reading and writing Spanish language lessons that my mother had given me came in handy as I began researching El Salvador. I soon new the ins and outs of the country. I learned about my country's resources, government and culture. I soon found employment in Leon Express, a mail courier service to El Salvador. This allowed me to meet and interact with Salvadorian people and have news first-hand of upcoming events in my community.
Learning about my country of origin made me open my eyes to the beauty of other countries. I was thirsty for knowledge. I wanted to know where my friends and their parents where from. I learned about Mexico, Central America, South America and the other countries whose national language was Spanish. It was a whole new world. Fresh and adventuresome. I found myself partaking in marches with the AFL-CIO, boycotting grapes for purpose, and writing angry letters to then-governor Pete Wilson. Standing proud in a typical indegineous blouse. I learned and understood what the month of September signified and, most importantly, I knew who I was.
Today, I enjoy the beauty that both El Salvador and the United States have to offer. I can partake in any festivales or parades. I proudly celebrate el aniversario de La Batalla de Puebla, La Independencia de El Salvador, El Dia de la Madre Argentina, Las Vestiduras Espa?olas and so much more.
I've found that as Latinos in LA we all share something in common, the love for our countries, the one we descend from and the one that offers us a home. We can all come together and celebrate life for the simple pleasure of living. Most importantly, we can celebrate the fact that as Latinos living in L.A., we are the angels that form the spirit that this gran ciudad, our ciudad thrives on.
Together we stand, as it was appropriately named, in LatinoLA.
Geraldine G?mez was born in El Salvador and lived there until the age of 4, living in Los Angeles thereafter. What she enjoys the most is sharing and creating memories with family and friends, old or new. email@example.com