My son Mateo (11) doesn’t often get to stay up late on a school night. However, Sept. 24 I made the exception so that he could watch the second part of the PBS documentary Latino Americans with my husband and I.
Mateo is a Latino American, born in Guatemala and having immigrated with me to the United States when he was 2 years old. It was interesting to watch this with the three of us, one born and raised in Guatemala (me), one born in Guatemala and raised in the United States, and one born and raised in the USA (my husband).
Here are some of the reflections that each of us had as we talked about the show after it ended.
Latinos back in the day had a hard life coming to the United States from all over. They came for a better chance, and more opportunity for their families to live, or because they wanted freedom. It makes me feel grateful that they were able to pave the way for Latinos in my generation.
I learned that Latinos are really hard workers, and worked hard to get what was fair for them. They had a lot of initiative, starting their own businesses, like my parents. I also noticed that they always stick with their family and tried to help out with their neighbors.
Them leaving their families and the discrimination of being different made me feel sad. Operation Peter Pan was sad because all of the children had to leave their family. It’s hard because you know you won’t see your family a for long time until things get better.
They missed their families, as I do, that’s what I miss the most.
It was remarkable to see how much Latin America has been affected by political unrest and economic instability. And while America seemed to be a safe haven and the land of opportunity for some, it also got drawn into a political sphere where it exerted a negative impact on many Latinos.
It was also notable to observe how the different cultural migration patterns and how they have colored the face of America. For example, I hadn’t realized how Miami became a prosperous international city after the Cuban migration because of Latino productivity and resourcefulness.
The documentary was really powerful for me. Even the fact that the history of Latino Americans is being chronicled in this fashion is a testament to where we have come.
More specifically, as a Latino Business owner it was validating to see how the entrepreneurial efforts of Latinos led to the advancement of their entire communities.
The example shown of EL Dorado Furniture in Miami is a useful one. It was, “a different kind of furniture store”, and that echoes my sentiments about the kinds of businesses Latinos establish and the way they do business.
The piece on Cuban immigration was also relevant to me because Cuba is where I met Matt.
Hearing about how Cuban Americans could not go back to their homeland rang true to me.
Imagine you live in San Francisco and your entire family, homeland, and culture is Sacramento, yet you are not allowed to see them. So close, yet so far away.
The documentary serves as a reminder of the fortitude that Latinos possess and how they have shaped their own destinies as well as the destiny of America.
Avahna, our daughter is almost 5 year old. She was asleep when the three of us watched Latino Americans.
However, little by little I have started to teach Avahna as I have keep teaching Mateo more about who we are as Latino Americans. We are blessed to call the United States our home and as Americans we will continue to embrace our Latino heritage with pride.
I saw her running today having fun and thank God that she is free. We all deserve to be and feel free and to belong.
LATINO AMERICANS is a story of immigration and renovation, and the anguish and celebration that Hispanics have faced to achieve a better life for themselves and for their families. Thank you FORD Motor Company for being a proud member of the Hispanic community and for being involved in the Latino Americans series on and PBS.
TOMORROW!!! The third and last part of Latino Americans will air Oct. 1 of PBS from 8 to 10pm. Continue celebrating Hispanic Heritage month and don’t miss it!
Join the conversation on Twitter #LatinoAmericans @PBS @FordEspanol #LatinosFord #LatinosPBS
Become a part of the LATINO AMERICANS project. Make a video describing what being Latino means to you, share your family traditions, tell them how you celebrate your heritage and culture or let them know about your role models. Share your story with a video HERE
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