by Robert Rios
Some may argue that our gene pools have been so diluted that it’s impossible to trace any indigenous blood our forefathers may have contained. I am not one of those people; I am a firm believer in the cultural contributions to what would eventually lead me to my current state of MoRican-ness (Mo-Rican [Moe-Ree-Can] Adj., described as a person who is More Rican than you are).
When I was 17, I began to explore my native roots, getting involved in Pow-Wows, after-school programs, and an organization known as the Redhawk Indian Arts Council. As a youth looking for some kind of legacy, I owe them a lot for my spiritual and intellectual enlightenment. Fast-forward another decade. Now as a young man, I’ve come to notice that same sense of cultural dislocation that once washed over me has flooded today’s youth. They are bombarded with more and more things to keep them complacent and mentally occupied.
If you ask any random Latino teenager who The Young Lords were, or if they ever read or heard a poem by Dón Pedro Pietri, or if they could tell you anything about Ché that didn’t involve him being on a t-shirt, they’d be unable to. Now being the same age as my former mentors, I feel an impending need to pay-it-forward, as I cannot sit back and let our beautifully wondrous culture slip away and get lost in the mainstream bowels of “History.”
Generations ago, OURstory was handed down by the storytellers and record keepers of old. From the dawn of civilization, oratory records of what went on were passed along from father to son, mother to daughter, but in most cases were completely embellished by rulers recording stories to paper. Now more than ever, in the digital age of Internet, cell phones and social media, we must take it upon ourselves to do the same as our ancestors did. Showing our youth that we are the progeny of Kings, Queens, Chieftains, and Warriors; not just slaves, servants, house maids, and drug dealers.
Whether our lineage can be traced back by just a few generations, or centuries, we would not be who or what we are today without the influence of the ancestors, be they Indigenous, African, Spaniard, or any other combination in between. What we gain from that integrity is a grander perspective than the Eurocentric view on the way the world came to be.
How sad is it that most Latinos can’t even tell you when Hispanic Heritage Month is? Whether you claim Taíno, Carib, Mulatto, Arawak, Mayan, Incan, Amerindian, Mestizo, Zambo, or just Latino, always remember that WE are the keepers of our legacy of tomorrow.
Robert Rios, Contributor
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.