Recently I decided to try out a new cupcake shop that opened its doors last December, a place called Snazzy Sugar, in River Grove, Illinois. I went with my girlfriend, since she loves cupcakes – especially red velvet with cream cheese frosting – and I was tired of trekking all the way to Molly’s in Lincoln Park just to satisfy her cravings.
One of the owners appeared from a backroom, a middle-aged man by the name of Omar. He spoke with a Spanish accent that, for some reason, gave me a warm feeling inside.
See, when I walked into Snazzy Sugar, I was expecting the owners and the people who worked there to be your average, apple-pie Americans – that is, I expected them to be white. So it was a pleasant surprise to walk in and be greeted by someone like Omar, someone with a brown face, someone from La Raza.
For me, Snazzy Sugar represents both the changing face of America as a whole and the changing face of the Latino community. Sure, there are plenty of Latino bakers; no neighborhood is complete without its panadería. But Snazzy Sugar is not a panadería. It’s a typical American bakery, with cupcakes and pound cakes and all kinds of cakes (the iced pumpkin pound cake was epiphanic). On top of all this, the owners are Latino too. There were pastelitos filled with guayaba y queso displayed on the counter, and Omar assured me that theirs was the best tres leches cake in town. Snazzy Sugar offers the best of both worlds, American and Latino.
As a politophile, I’m always satisfied to see Latinos breaking into politics and serving the public in ever-higher offices. But Latinos expanding the community’s limitations and definitions in any field should be the main goal. In today’s America, Latinos are not only landscapers and busboys – roles we fulfill with grit and dignity – but also cupcake makers and anything else we choose to be. The expansion of choices then translates to community uplift and empowerment; hundreds of thousands of ladders toward happiness and success, a multitude of open doors.
We should encourage our children to be whatever they will, whether scholars, public servants or entrepreneurs. Let their aim be restricted by nothing, only their capacity to dream and attain individual happiness. The health and success of our community lies in true freedom founded on self-determination, in our ability to choose what is best for us, without outside influence. Only then will our people shed its double consciousness and define itself, for itself.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.