Category:

Latina

Growing up a bicultural first-generation Mexican American Latina, my viewpoint may be a little different than others. I think my unique perspective and exposure to the Latino culture and Southern American culture growing up let me look at the world with an open heart and open mind.

I grew up in a very culturally rich city, Chicago where it was normal to see people of all different races, religions and countries of origin. It was nothing exceptional to hear many different languages spoken at any given time. Even in my own home, Spanish and English were both spoken.  I thought this was completely normal and I wish it was.

When we traveled abroad, our parents demanded that we treated the people and country of others with reverence and respect. We were taught to immerse ourselves in the culture. When in Rome, live as the Romans was sort of my dad’s travel mantra. I’m so grateful he did this for us. I want to do the same for my girls.

I want them to embrace their Latina and their American cultures and I want them to respect the people and cultures of other people. We do this through exposure, travel and teaching patience and tolerance and immersion.

I think our cultures, our religions, our circumstances and experiences give us all our own very unique perspective of life and here I share mine.

At&T,dreams, Walt Disney World, HIspanic Research, New Year's Resolutions

At&T,dreams, Walt Disney World, HIspanic Research, New Year's ResolutionsI told you all about my word of the year but it’s more than just words and visions, it’s hopes, dreams and goals all pursued with purpose and intent. I want attainable goals to better my life. After all, isn’t that all any of us really want?

What are those goals? I want to be my best self; physically and mentally. I want to be present in my life. I want to be available to my children and husband and I want to do my best to grow my career. I would rather spend every moment pursuing my passions and enjoying my life than being safe.

This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with AT&T and #WeAllGrow Latina Network.

One of my biggest goals is to take my passion (writing) and my business (this blog) to the next level. I want to grow beyond my self-imposed boundaries. I’ve spent years being afraid of the next level and I’m done with that. I’m more afraid of not trying than I am at failing because if you try, you can’t actually fail because you succeed just be going for it.

One of the primary ways that I will be pursuing this goal is through the use of technology. In fact, without it, my dream would not even exist. My dream lives on the Internet and plays out via my laptop, camera, phone, routers, Wi-Fi hotspots, desktop and so many other pieces of technology that keep me connected and provide me with a venue to pursue my dream.

My website has provided me not only the vehicle to connect with other moms and women around the world, it’s given me a place to share my words, my thoughts and my experiences. It’s allowed me to raise money for charities and bring light to important issues that need our attention. The internet has given me a place to amplify my voice and to actually do something to change the world, instead of just talking about it amongst a small group of friends.

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. ~ Steve Jobs

Last year, a small group of us raised over $100,000 for charity in a couple months just by using social networks. I’ve traveled the world. Met celebrities and politicians. Seen Broadway shows, concerts and musicals. Been given backstage access to some of the coolest events. Worked with some of the greatest brands around the world all while being able to stay-at-home and raise my daughters. Technology has changed my life and allowed me to touch other people’s lives. It’s as close to having it all, as I ever could have imagined.

In April 2017, AT&T conducted a Hispanic research study to explore the role of technology in U.S. Latinos’ pursuit of their goals and aspirations across various aspects of their lives. Of those Latinos researched, 77% say technology plays a big role in keeping socially and culturally connected. 67% say technology enables them to stay connected to their Hispanic identity. 58% feel more empowered through technology. 68% believe technology is key to the empowerment of the Latino community in the U.S. I agree.

At&T, HIspanic Research, New Year's Resolutions

Technology is the great equalizer. It makes all of our voices carry equally. There is no accent or preconceived notions or prejudices parlayed via our online voices. Technology has leveled the playing field and there is no dream too small or too large that I can’t pursue and achieve. Knowledge of technology is power.

What is your resolution for the greater good? How has technology made your dreams come true?

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alone, loss, life perspective

It’s been a week of life perspective and reevaluation; loss does that to you. My Aunt Erma died a week ago today. I haven’t been able to escape the name this week, it’s all over the news and every time I hear it, it’s like a cruel reminder that she’s gone. Like some cosmic joke, as if the universe thinks we’d forget.

Losing someone is never easy. Even if you prepared for it and expected it, the abrupt force of letting go hits you like a mac truck. We weren’t prepared or expecting it, to be clear. It knocks the wind out of you and leaves you feeling like a shell of a person with nothing to fill you up but more pain. In all honesty, the moments of emptiness are preferable to feeling anything at all, especially in those first hours.

We’d lost touch over the years as a by product of growing up and moving away; starting our own families. But she was still my aunt and even when we hadn’t spoken in years, she showed up when it mattered, my bridal shower, wedding and baby shower. She’s been there since my first birthday.

Even when years passed that I hadn’t seen her face, I’d cling to the memories of my childhood. I was the lone niece in a sea of nephews. I was the little girl in the family and we shared special moments, my aunt Erma and I. She was my aunt I loved her, no amount of time can change that.

I was a child, even as an adult, in our relationship. I would always be her first niece. She never intruded or forced her way in, but she was always there and now she’s not. I guess we take for granted that people won’t always be there. There won’t always be time for reconciliation and homecomings. Sometimes people die and things go unsaid. We have to live with that.

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around what my uncle, cousins, and her grandchildren are going through. She was a true matriarch and loved her boys beyond anything else and it was reciprocated fully. She is gone and they remain, broken shells of who they were the day before. Fragile and empty, with pain filling up every nook and cranny of space of where she once resided.

My heart breaks for them. I know the look of loss. I’ve tasted it myself. I wanted to crawl into my own body and curl up and die. The world went on around me and it was unfathomable how people could continue to carry on with their lives when the unthinkable had just happened. But that is the way it goes. Loss is personal and profound and no two people feel it the same way.

I watched helplessly this past week as my family had to let go too soon. I saw the blank stares and confusion on the faces of those who loved her as the realization that she is no longer here, swept over them. I saw the wind almost knock them to their knees with that realization.

I learned another valuable lesson this week, funerals and mourning are for the living. When I was a child, funerals scared me to death. I hated them. The loss of a loved one, seeing those I love in such excruciating pain, seeing my relative dead in a casket but now, I know, it’s part of the letting go process. Without it, we would have no closure. Without it, the pain would be insurmountable.

We need this ceremony to let those left behind be comforted, coddled and loved to get through it. It’s hard. It can almost break you and you never fully recover from such a huge loss but you learn to survive it.

I watched my uncle and cousins ( grown men) brought to their knees from this loss. Our entire family rallied around them to lift them up with love and support because that is what family does. You put aside any petty qualms or past hurts and you just be there. Moments of normalcy began to seep through and in the next, the weight of the loss would be bearing down on all of us so heavily that we felt as if we all might be crushed by it.

It was a horrible situation but it served a purpose to remind us all just how important family is to all of us. There’s been check ins and phone calls and texts between all of us because if my aunt Erma’s death has taught us anything, it taught us that life is brief and we have to make the time to love those around us; to show them, not just think it.

You’ve heard the saying to one person you are the world? Well, while our lives may not feel as if they amount to much in the grand scheme of things…to one person, they could amount to everything. I think we take that for granted.

A life well lived and a life well loved is all any of us can hope for. The brokenness that remains behind is a testament to how we loved while we were alive.

That’s the way I survive loss, by remembering that it was a privilege to be able to love these people; to see them smile, hear them laugh, see the twinkle in their eyes when they were happy, hold their hand when they were sad. Life is fleeting and loss lingers so love so full on that it borders on crazy because there is no such thing as showing someone you love them too much.

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Chicago, family, soccer, MLS, All Star Game, Major League Soccer, Target, Youth Soccer

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration with Target but all opinions and the love of soccer are my own.

Chiquitibum a la bim bom ba, chiquitiboom a la bim bom ba, a la bio, a la bao, a la bim bom ba, favorite team name, favorite team name Rah rah rah!!!

This is the siren song of my childhood. Add to that a vuvuzela and you have my countless World Cup experiences. In case you haven’t guessed it, I come from a soccer (futbol if you want to be technically correct) family.

Chicago, family, homegating, soccer, MLS, All Star Game, Major League Soccer, Target, Youth Soccer

I was raised on soccer. My dad and uncles played soccer in Mexico and then, here in the United States, all of my brothers and sisters played soccer, all of my cousins and now all of the nieces and nephews.

Chicago, family, soccer, MLS, All Star Game, Major League Soccer, Target, Youth Soccer, homegating

Even my two ballerinas are known to trade in their pointe shoes for an occasional pair of cleats. Soccer has been coursing through our veins for decades.

Chicago, family, soccer, MLS, All Star Game, Major League Soccer, Target, Youth Soccer, homegating

We’re not alone. Did you know that more than nine million kids played in youth soccer leagues in 2016, making it one of the top youth-participation sports in the country?

Chicago, family, soccer, MLS, All Star Game, Major League Soccer, Target, Youth Soccer, homegating

Soccer matches (here and abroad) were what we watched most weekends. If we weren’t playing soccer, we were watching it at the fields or on television. We love everything about it; the game, the intensity, the skill, the strategy and the stories behind each player. We were invested. Our first hero was Edson Arantes do Nascimento better known as Pele. It’s not just opinion but fact, he was the greatest player of all time.

Chicago, family, soccer, MLS, All Star Game, Major League Soccer, Target, Youth Soccer, homegating

In fact, most Cruz kids who played soccer have played under the numbers 10 or 12. My family has used those numbers from preschool all the way through their days of recruitment to play for the university.

We even have one cousin who played for the MLS before heading overseas to play in Europe. This is not to brag that my family is a bunch of die-hard soccer fans. It’s just a fact.

 

Chicago, family, soccer, MLS, All Star Game, Major League Soccer, Target, Youth Soccer, homegating

The literal motto for our family is play with passion. In fact, do everything in life with passion. Do what you love until your legs are so rubbery below you that you fall to your knees in elated exhaustion. This is something that soccer has taught us and this is how we live our lives. Going for it.all day. Every day.

 

Chicago, family, soccer, MLS, All Star Game, Major League Soccer, Target, Youth Soccer, homegating

You can imagine how excited I was when I learned that one of my favorite brands, Target, is sponsoring this year’s MLS All Star Game in my hometown, Chicago next Wednesday.

Chicago, family, soccer, MLS, All Star Game, Major League Soccer, Target, Youth Soccer, homegating

The All Star game is a celebration of the growing momentum and popularity of soccer in the U.S and Target is proud to be a part of that not only by supporting the MLS but by also. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend but I will be hosting a “homegating” party with my family as we watch the MLS All Star Game on August 2nd.

Are you excited? Will you be watching the Target sponsored MLS All Star Game? What is the one thing that bonds your family through thick and thin throughout time?

 

 

 

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Cirque du Soleil, Luzia, Chicago, Mexico, Waking Dream

Have you heard of Cirque du Soleil’s latest touring show, LUZIA? If you are a long time reader of The TRUTH, you are fully aware that we are huge fans of the Cirque du Soleil. We’ve been to several live performances and if we haven’t seen it under the Big Top, chances are pretty high that we’ve seen the DVD. Last summer we took the girls to see, Kurios, in Boston.

The Big Guy and I fell in love with the Cirque du Soleil n our honeymoon, when we saw our first performance, La Nouba, at Disney Springs, which by the way is retiring so if you get the chance to see it this year before it leaves, I’d highly recommend it. We were enthralled by the feats of impossibility the performers could complete and captivated by the sounds and colors of the new world we were immersed into and that was it. Love at first sight.

You can imagine the excitement that filled my heart when I heard about the Cirque du Soleil’s latest touring production, LUZIA, especially since it is based on the culture and land of my father’s people, Mexico. I feel very connected to this show and cannot wait to see it.

Cirque du Soleil, Luzia, Chicago, Mexico, Waking Dream

Cirque du Soleil is excited to bring back its magic to Chicago this July with its latest soul-touching production, LUZIA.

From July 21 – August 20, 2017, audiences will be invited to a redesigned white-and-gold Big Top next to United Center to escape to an imaginary Mexico – a beautifully intricate world suspended somewhere between dreams and reality. If you’ve never seen a Cirque du Soleil under the Big Top, you need to. It has that very otherworldly feeling of the circuses back in the 1940’s.

LUZIA is Cirque du Soleil’s 38th original production since 1984, and its 17th show presented under the Big Top. The company has brought wonder and delight to more than 160 million spectators in more than 400 cities on six continents.

Cirque du Soleil, Luzia, Chicago, Mexico, Waking Dream

But what is LUZIA, you ask?

LUZIA takes you to an imaginary Mexico, like in a waking dream, where light (“luz” in Spanish) quenches the spirit and rain (“lluvia”) soothes the soul.

Freely inspired by Mexico, LUZIA is a poetic and acrobatic ode to the rich, vibrant culture of a country whose wealth stems from an extraordinary mix of influences and creative collisions – a land that inspires awe with its breathtaking landscapes and architectural wonders, buoyed by the indomitable spirit of its people.

The tableaux of LUZIA weave an intricate, contemporary mosaic that awakens your senses and transports you to a place suspended between dreams and reality. Featuring a cast of 44 performers from diverse artistic backgrounds, LUZIA surprises with acrobatic performances breaking down the barriers, such as integrating water into contemporary circus disciplines.

For more information, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/luzia.

This 4th of July, get 4 LUZIA tickets for the price of 3! Buy 3 and get your 4th ticket free. Offer good June 26th– July 4th 11:59 p.m. Offer on PL1,2,3 for the first 2 weeks of shows.

This show that is guaranteed to be more explosive than the fireworks.

LUZIA opens July 21st in Chicago under the big top at the United Center-lot K.  Get ready to be transported to a surreal world of wonders!

@cirquedusoleil, #LUZIA, #cirquedusoleil, Cirque du Soleil, Luzia, Chicago, Mexico, Waking Dream

Also, thanks to the generosity of Cirque du Soleil, I am giving away one pair of tickets to LUZIA in Chicago to one lucky reader. Just enter below.

I’ll also report back after I see Cirque du Soleil LUZIA on the July 21st and tell you all about it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided 2 passes to give away to one lucky reader but all opinions and love for all things Cirque du Soleil and LUZIA are my own.

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date my dad, uptv, barry watson, family tv

I watch a lot of television so when I was asked to screen Date My Date and have the opportunity to interview Barry Watson, I was all in. I like television shows and movies for various reasons. Truth is I’m a bit of a show binger. In the end, there is usually some kind of connection or take away that keeps me coming back and Date My Date did not disappoint.

I’ve spent my life as the kid who was always looking for the keychain at the gift shop that had my name on it. I never found it, at least not spelled correctly and my girls have the same issue. I was also the little girl who changed which box she checked on the enrollment card every single year. #BiracialKidProblems My point being my “niche” in life was a little smaller than others. I never quite found kids on television or movies who I could completely identify with.

Enter, Up TV’s new television show Date My Dad. Date My Dad is an original scripted dramedy starring Barry Watson (7th Heaven, Gossip Girl), Zenia Marshall and the legendary Raquel Welch. How can you go wrong?

Date My Dad begins airing June 2nd at 9PM ET on UP TV.

date my dad, uptv, barry watson, family tv

I had the chance to watch the pilot and rewatch it with my daughters and I have to say, we love it. It’s the first time my daughters have been able to watch a show and identify with the characters. For me, it’s huge that my 2 biracial daughters who follow after their mom’s freckled Mexican complexion can see girls on the show who represent Latinas that look like them and the fact that we all come in different colors, complexions, eye and hair combinations. That is refreshing for me.

But whether you are a single parent, raising your kids alone, or like many of us finding ourselves depending on extended family and friends to help raise our children (because it really does take a village) you too will find something you can identify with on Date My Dad.

Date My Dad is about a widowed father, Ricky (played by Barry Watson), who is navigating his way through raising his daughters ranging in ages from just pretween to teen and between. Ricky just turned 40 and life is not what he expected it to be at this juncture in his life but along with the help of his Mother-in-Law (played by the force that is Raquel Welch), his brother and his wife and his neighbors, he is figuring it out. Along the way, he is learning a little bit more about himself and, maybe for the first time, seeing his daughters as people and not just his children. It all becomes very evident in the pilot when his girls set out to find their dad someone to love because they feel he deserves to have someone.

The show is touching and endearing without being overly saccharine. It’s also infused with just the right amount of sarcasm and humor to balance the sometimes serious themes of the show.

My girls are 9 and 12-years-old and we watched it and all found it not only captivating and well-written but appropriate for audiences of all ages. Finally, something you can watch with your children without having to worry about suddenly having to cover their eyes or ears.

date my dad, uptv, barry watson, family tv

But if you don’t believe me, just check out this video of Date My Dad.

I also had the pleasure recently of interviewing Ricky ( Barry Watson) at Mom 2.0 Summit and I’ve got to say, aside from playing a great Ricky he is a genuinely good and likable guy. Plus, he is a fellow hand talker so obviously, we are now best friends. Okay, maybe not best friends but he certainly was fun to interview and run into, over and over again. Stop following me, Barry 😉

I only wrote that because I know he would totally laugh because he did. We seriously ran into each other several times in those 3 days. We have a bet going on who is actually whose stalker.

Anyways, if you don’t believe me that this show is going to rock, check out my interview below and see for yourself. And don’t hold it against me that I totally have over expressive face disorder and am a major hand talker.

Kudos to Barry because if I were him, I would have been terrified with all that craziness going on in front of me. He was a good sport and I’m telling you as a friend, you really should watch Date My Date and watch it with the whole family.

To celebrate this great new addition to the UP TV roster, join @UPtv on Twitter every Friday night during Date My Dad for the chance to win great prizes and chat about the show with special guest hosts. UP TV is the entertainment brand that can truly say “We Get Family” and offers viewing experiences that feature authentic, relatable stories about all types of families, in all their complexities.

 

date my dad, uptv, barry watson, family tv

 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by UP TV however, all thoughts and opinions about Date my Dad are my own.

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Chase, talking to kids about money, teaching kids to save

The talk, the “money talk”, that is it’s just about as frightening as the sex talk with your kid and just as important because if you get it wrong, the consequences can be dire so talking to your kids about money is very important. In fact, a major study conducted by Chase and Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making at the University of Colorado discovered that Boomers put more value in having the “money talk” with their kids than “the talk” about “the birds and the bees”.

Talking to kids about money is that important!

As far as I’m concerned, especially since my children are of the snowflake generation and they believe life is fair and they get everything they want just for the simple fact that they exist, it’s never too early to start talking to kids about saving money, being financially savvy with their futures and planning for the future. And as everyone knows, knowing is half the battle. How can we expect our children to make good financial decisions if we don’t talk to them about it? As uncomfortable as talking to your kids about money may seem, it is necessary to boost financial confidence and preparedness in our children.

I grew up very blue collar. We did not have a lot of extra money. There were no grand vacations and elaborate luxuries. Our family lived on a budget and we knew it. Everything we had, for the most part, was a necessity. Luxuries for when you were old enough to get a job, work hard and pay for it yourself. Which is what we did. But we were taught from a very early age to save our money because we didn’t know when we would get more. There was no allowance for us.

Luckily, our girls have never personally known what it feels like to be poor or go without. But I’m not sure that is a good thing either. I think we’ve created a false sense of security. They have everything they need and most of what they want and they’ve never had to go without. This makes me feel happy that we can provide this ideal childhood for our girls but on the other hand, I feel like I am doing a major disservice to them because am I really teaching them to live in the real world? I don’t think so.

This is exactly why we should be talking to kids about money.

So, the Big Guy and I have put into place an allowance system. The girls do chores to earn their allowances. It’s $20 a month and it is theirs to do with as they please. We cover the necessities but if the girls want an ice cream cone and I had no intention of buying ice cream or if they want a Chapstick and they already have 3 or a new shirt and they absolutely don’t need one, they have to buy it themselves.

We explained savings and interest and the value of saving for something that you really want versus buying everything you see. Impulse buying is a fleeting feeling of fulfillment. There is no way you are going to enjoy that giant stuffed animal as much as you will love having the money to spend on vacation on something special. But the only way to teach them is to ultimately let them make their own decisions.

In the beginning, I won’t lie, they just spent money like it grew on trees, like it wasn’t real because they hadn’t earned it. Believe me, I understand this concept because I did the same thing in college with my credit cards they were handing out in the quad. It wasn’t “real money” so I just spent it like it was monopoly money. I’d pay it back “someday”. BAD IDEA!

Lately, I’m noticing the girls are shopping much more carefully. They are putting stuff back. They are asking themselves, do I need this? Do I really even want it? Is it worth all the cleaning I did to earn it? More often than not, the answer is no. I’m seeing a trend of saving for bigger things. They are loving the freedom that having their own money comes with. For instance, they know that if they want to buy ice cream, they can whenever they want. But they now ask themselves, is today the day I really want the ice cream?

Talking to kids about money is actually be working.

Now, not all Hispanic families grow up poor but a lot of us are direct descendants of immigrants and when you make a move like that, to an entirely different country, you learn a little something about the importance of saving money and the value of a dollar. A recent study showed that Hispanics started saving for retirement at age 27 vs. age 31 for the general population. Also, Hispanics are more likely to spend on ‘things’ over ‘experiences’, while Americans would equally spend on the two (60% vs. 50% general population). Things are tangible expressions of financial wealth, whereas experiences are not.

However, this is not true for me and my immediate family. I definitely believe that experiences are priceless. For example, for me, travel and showing my children the world and other cultures is more important than having all the coolest things. Of course, that is coming from a perspective of privilege because we do have all the things we want now.

 

That same study showed that Hispanics are especially open with their kids about money. I think this goes back to the fact that, most of us, have at one point not so long ago struggled financially. It might not have happened to us directly but it happened to a family member who is still alive and able to serve as a cautionary tale of struggle.

    • 56% Hispanics said their parents were open about money with them growing up, versus 45% of the general population.
    • 67% of Hispanics regularly discussed finances with parents growing up, versus 55% of the general population.
    • 49% of Hispanics said their parents told them how much money they made, versus 36% of the general population.

I think these all have a lot to do with the focus Latinos put on family. We are very open with our children and the first person we turn to in a crisis or for advice is our family; brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents before we would ever go to a professional because a family member is always going to have the best intentions for you.

Chase understands the importance of learning more about each generation’s financial habits, which aids them in providing even more sound financial advice. The findings from the study reinforce the importance of having open and honest conversations about finances, no matter where you are in your life.

Chase, talking to kids about money, teaching kids to save

How open are you with your children about money? How important do you think talking to kids about money is?

To learn more about the study and follow the Generational Money Talks series, please visit Chase.com/LaCharla.

How are you talking to kids about money and teaching your children the value of money and saving for the things that matter the most?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Chase and #WeAllGrow Latina Network. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Super Bowl, immigrant, immigration, Mexico, border, the wall, Desierto

Ever wonder why an immigrant, illegal or otherwise, really comes to the United States willing to risk his life? Maybe that question is too big, maybe we narrow it down, ever wonder why my dad came to the United States? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not to take anything from you.It’s more about admiration of the freedoms we have and the will to succeed; to achieve the American dream. The freedom to work hard and get ahead in life.

Then ask yourself, if you were desperate, and your child’s life depended on you doing something dangerous, would you do it? What if it were illegal? What if you needed to fast track things in order to save a life? Would you do it? I think we all know the answer is yes. we’d do anything for our children.

I’ve heard a lot of discussions online about immigrants and why many Americans don’t want immigrants here in the United States. People are talking about immigrants like they are not humans but has anyone ever just asked a real, live immigrant,

Super Bowl, immigrant, immigration, Mexico, border, the wall, Desierto

Hey, immigrant why are you here?

If you are not an immigrant, or the son or daughter of an immigrant, or the friend or loved one of an immigrant, maybe you just don’t know and I’m sure it is different for every single person. But I’m happy to share with you my immigrant story. How this freckled Mexican was born on the right side of the wall.

I’ve been quick to judge all of you. I was only seeing things from my perspective, the daughter of an immigrant; a first generation Mexican-American. I never even considered that there are actually people who don’t even personally know any Mexicans. They know of us, apparently our reputation precedes us, but they don’t “know us”; know us.

Super Bowl, immigrant, immigration, Mexico, border, the wall, Desierto

They’ve not grown up with us; eaten dinner at our home, been welcomed by my interracial couple parents and been kissed on the cheek and treated like family. They’ve not had the pleasure of hearing my dad, in his thick Spanish accent, look them in the eye, give them a firm hand shake ( even the most down trodden of our neighbors) and say, “Good to see you, buddy!” Never seen the way family is more than the people you share a last name with; never been willing to risk everything for those people.

They’ve never heard my dad sing Happy Birthday, Las Mananitas and You are my sunshine to my daughters every birthday or seen him grab them and start dancing with them whenever he hears music. They’ve never seen his giant smile and the way he says, “Sonofagun” any time his grandchildren do almost anything because he is so in awe of them.

They don’t know that my dad used to bring homeless people home for dinner that he’d see on his walk home from mass. My mom wasn’t too keen on this practice but that’s the type of guy he is. When he wants to, he’ll give you the jacket off his back if you need it more than he does. He’s the man who wore sunglasses when he walked me down the aisle so no one would see him cry, when he gave me away.

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re a long time reader of this blog you know that my dad is not perfect. He’s made mistakes but he’s also never been a drug dealer, a rapist or a murderer.

He simply falls into the immigrant category because he was born someplace else.

immigrant, hero

He’s the kind of man who has played the guitar in the church choir since I was a kid. He’s the guy who stopped drinking and now, devotes most of his retirement to not only staying sober but keeping others sober. But he is Mexican. He’s lived in the United States longer than he ever lived there. This is his home but Mexico is where he was born. Mexico is where part of my roots begin.

When all of the political mudslinging started during the campaign, I felt personally attacked because my dad is an immigrant and even though he is not perfect, he has always been a contributing member of society and he raised us to work hard, trust in God and respect our government.

Just because someone is an immigrant, doesn’t mean they are a bad person.

It just means they weren’t born here. They chose to come here. They choose America.

He’s a good man; a good Christian man who reads the bible daily, who has been married to the same woman for 44 years, who has raised 6 children and paid taxes to a country that he loves. The kind of man who plays in the sprinkler with his grandchildren. The kind of man who doesn’t want fame and fortune, he only wanted to be able to give his unborn children a better life than he had; maybe a house without dirt floors, maybe a life where the struggle wasn’t so real.

When people bad mouth immigrants, I take it personally. I feel like the country and the government that my dad loves so much, that we’ve been raised to believe is the best in the world, hated him simply for the color of his skin and by association me, my brothers and sisters and our children; the most precious thing in our lives; family.

The will to succeed is always welcome here.

Those were the words at the end of the Lumber 84, full 6-minute commercial, the one thought to be too controversial for a commercial during the Super Bowl. Those words spoke to me because I was raised by an immigrant who taught me to believe in myself and to know that where there is a will, there is always a way. My father is legal, but is that really relevant to the man he is?

That is all that my immigrant father wanted. The chance to be a member of our society; a chance to give his children a better life. He doesn’t hate Americans. He loves everything about this country. So what are we all so afraid of?

There’s been some confusion about the true meaning behind this commercial. I saw it as a beautiful thing but it seems I didn’t realize that a mother and daughter making their way to a better life is only beautiful if you come through the door. If you can’t find the door, I guess you’re just supposed to give up and live the life you’re doomed to live and I guess, according to Lumber 84, we’re all supposed to be okay with that.

Tomorrow, Desierto is released on DVD, I highly recommend that you watch it then maybe you’ll see why immigrants are more afraid of you than you should be afraid of them.

What’s the difference between the European immigrants that founded this country hundreds of years ago and the Mexican and Muslim immigrants who are trying to make a better life for their children now, besides the color of their skin? Then again, I guess it’s always been hard for immigrants.

What is the difference between an immigrant and you or I, besides a piece of paper?

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Blackish, racism, Trump, post-obama, election

Do you watch Blackish? We do. It’s one of those shows that we watch as a family the day after it airs because simply put, we can personally relate to many of the topics of the show but none more than this week’s episode, “Lemons.”

In 30 minutes, Blackish brilliantly covered everything that I’ve felt in the past 2 months about the election. Some of it, I’ve said on here before and more recently, I’ve gone quiet because I’ve been processing. I’ve been preparing to keep on fighting for equality. This fight is nothing new to me as a Latina woman, and if you are an African American, a member of the LGBTQ community, a person of the Muslim or Jewish community, disabled or any minority for that matter that was looking forward and hung all of our hopes of equality on a white woman, you know exactly what I’ve been feeling.

In retrospect, I guess we were all a bit naïve. We got cocky and complacent and we thought Hillary Clinton had it in the bag and she was the change/ the chance for true equality that we were all waiting for and maybe we put that on her because she was a white woman. Maybe somewhere deep down inside we felt like we needed permission/ confirmation of our equality from a Caucasian. How ironic is it that white women are the very exact ones who failed us at the polls?

We’re equal. We’re human. We don’t need anyone to make it alright. It’s a fact. Just like no other candidate can make us less than. Our President-elect may think we are less than he is but it’s simply not true. We are all the same. I don’t need him to give me something we already have the privilege of being born a human being.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about race lately because things just got a lot more in your face. The other day I watched Birth of a Nation and I cringed at the thought that any human could treat another human like that. It, quite frankly, broke my heart. I watched it with my 11-year-old daughter and we both just sobbed at the inhumanity. The thing is that wasn’t very long ago.

Then, I watched Loving. In case you are not familiar with the story, it’s about an interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving, living in Caroline County, Virginia in 1958. Richard Loving, a white construction worker, fell in love with a local black woman and family friend, Mildred Jeter. Mildred gets pregnant and overjoyed, Richard asks her to marry him. Knowing that interracial marriage violated Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws, they drove to Washington, D.C. to get married.

But soon, sheriff’s deputies raid Mildred’s home and arrest the couple for violating the anti-miscegenation law. When Richard points to the marriage license, the sheriff curtly tells him that it has no validity in Virginia and takes Richard and, a very pregnant, Mildred to jail. Richard makes bail but then is not allowed to bail his wife out. She is forced to spend the weekend in jail, pregnant and in her nightgown and robe because the government of Virginia refused to recognize their marriage.

They plead guilty to breaking the anti-miscegenation law and are sentenced to one year in prison. However, the judge suspends the sentence, on condition that they couldn’t return to Virginia together for at least 25 years. The Lovings moved to D.C. to stay with a friend of Mildred’s but return to Virginia so their first child, Sidney, can be delivered by Richard’s mother, a midwife. Arrested again, they are cleared when their lawyer says he erroneously advised them they could return.

From there, the ACLU got involved after Mildred sent a letter to Bobby Kennedy asking for help with her situation. In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the case of the Loving v. Virginia, which finally invalidated state laws prohibiting interracial marriage. That was only 50 years ago.

In 1972, my Caucasian mother from Virginia excitedly went to tell her grandfather who had raised her that she was marrying my father, a Mexican, and his answer was, “You may as well marry a n*gger.” I never really understood the weight of that comment until I watched Loving.

My great grandfather disowned my mother and she was heartbroken that he couldn’t accept the man that she loved. We never met that man because she wasn’t going to expose her children to that kind of hatred. I’ve only been taught and ever known, in my heart, that everyone is equal. My parents taught me that. But not so long ago, even in my own family, prejudice ran rampant and divided loved ones forever.

Prejudice is nothing new to most of us. Now, it’s just less covert but it hurts either way if I’m being honest. Nobody likes to swallow their tongue why someone else berates and belittles them and we shouldn’t have to. I wish we could do more than change the laws to ensure equality but actually change people’s hearts so that they saw us as equal because until that happens, we are not treating the cancer that is prejudice, only the symptoms and truly, that’s not much.

I guess what all this was about was to tell you that you are not alone in your feelings and if you don’t believe it, watch Blackish the episode “Lemons” you can catch it on Xfinity, HULU or the ABC App. I have no affiliation with these companies, other than paying for subscriptions, I just really think you need to watch it. You’ll see that you are not the only one thinking these things. You are not the only one terrified, depressed and saddened by the unpredictability of the upcoming term.

But please, stop complaining. And don’t be afraid because I know many of you are and who can blame you. But sometimes doing the right thing has to make you be braver than the fear. We’ve got work to do and the whining and crying is just pointless. It’s like worrying, there is not purpose to it. What helps is doing the work. Fighting the injustice. Making your voices heard so we don’t keep ending up here, in the worst fucking episode of Groundhog Day ever. We can do it. Yes, we can.

If you are disheartened by the election results, what are you going to do about it? How are you going to work to change the situation?

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racism, racism at school, students, Donald Trump

What do you do when your child comes home from school and tells you about all the blatant racism she experienced at school that day? Racism is nothing new but I’ve never had it directed so closely at my children. Wait, let me clarify, no one called my daughter a “Beaner”, “Wetback” or “Spic”; none of the common slurs you get when you are a little Mexican kid. No, my daughters, like myself, are very fair skinned and they actually look more Nordic than South American. They have blondish hair and blue eyes. Nothing about them screams, “I am Mexican hear me roar.” But they will tell you, in no uncertain terms, “Yo soy Mexicana, escuchame…..ROAR!!!!”

The thing is when you look Caucasian, people don’t worry about what they say around you. They think that you shouldn’t be offended because when they are insulting your culture and your race, they are not actually insulting “YOU” because to them, you are different (you get a pass) because you look the same as them. Let me tell you what, that’s even worse. Casual racism where you tell me that I shouldn’t be offended because you weren’t referring to “my kind of Mexican” is beyond insulting. People always expect Latinos to be “more Latino” or, in my case, more obviously Latino.

I’ve experienced this kind of attitude my entire life due to my white skin. My mom is Caucasian, so technically I am half European Caucasian (with a twist of Cherokee) but I am also half Mexican. And, as anyone of color will tell you because we know this firsthand, if you are brown or black in any amount, to most Caucasians, you are “other” because you’re not 100% Caucasian so I’ve always just embraced it. I refuse to deny who I am, where I come from or the fact that on my dad’s side, I am first generation Mexican-American. That makes my daughters with their alabaster skin, blue eyes and blonde hair, second generation Mexican-American. We are proud of this, as we should be but then, every once in a while, especially in today’s politically charged, infused with extra hatred and bigotry environment, we are slapped across the face with the feeling of others trying to make us feel small and less than. Yes, even today in 2016.

racism, racism at school, students, Donald Trump

Not to bring Donald Trump into this but honestly, he has broken the dam of the shame of racism that most polite societies had been adhering to. He has come in like a hurricane and ripped all politically correct walls down and made it not only acceptable but in some cases even applaudable to be prejudiced. Racism, xenophobia, and bigotry are running rampant under the guise of national pride and patriotism. I’m here to tell you that it’s not acceptable and never will be. It’s still just as disgusting as it ever was and now that the Trump trickle-down effect has directly involved my children, we have a problem and I’m ready to fight.

Which brings me to a couple recent situations that happened to my daughters at school recently. I’m pretty tolerant. I know that children sometimes regurgitate things they’ve heard at home without knowing what it really means. I also am painfully aware that hatred is taught not born. My girls know this as well and they readily afford their fellow students the benefit of the doubt but when they hear a prejudiced joke or comment made they also readily volunteer the information that they are Mexican and that those particular comments are offensive to them. In my house, we always think to ourselves, what would we allow someone to say to Grandpa Manny? If it would hurt him, it hurts us.

Last Wednesday, my daughter came home from a field trip, that my husband attended with her, and told me that the other kids in our car were telling her and one another that they were “voting for Donald Trump” and “Hillary Clinton wants to kill babies.” They went on to say that they wanted Trump to win so he could build a wall and “keep the Mexicans out!” Before my husband had the chance to say a word, my 9-year-old informed the children, “You know that I’m a girl and I’m Mexican.” (My 9-year-old doesn’t understand why anyone would vote for a racist misogynist, especially other women.) To which the kids answered, “Well, I knew you were a girl but I didn’t know you were MEXICAN!” My daughter’s answer, “Well, now you do.”

I don’t know about you but I find it very disturbing that parents are at home telling their kids that Hillary Clinton wants to kill babies and I’m personally offended that these children want to keep Mexicans out like we are some kind of criminal, lower life forms. It also disturbs me that my children are surrounded by such blatant racist every day.

On Friday, my daughter jumped in the car at pick-up and told me another disturbing tale of fourth-grade racism.

A group of children was talking and said that they hope Trump wins so he can keep the Mexicans out because they (Meaning Mexicans) are part of ISIS and the part of the reason the Twin Towers were attacked. What? Has the world gone mad?

racism, racism at school, students, Donald Trump, Ann Coulter

Take a moment to soak that last statement in. Does it disturb you to your core too? Because the sheer magnitude of the ignorance of that statement frightened me. If these children think Mexicans are terrorists couldn’t that prejudice them against the Latino children at the school? I know there is only a handful of but still. My point is this, the entire discussion was inappropriate and factually incorrect. Mexicans are not Islamic terrorists. All Muslims are not terrorists. And it was Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden who were responsible for the twin towers and 9/11, not the Mexicans; not a race or a culture but a group of terrorist extremist. Why are these parents teaching their children to hate people who don’t look, act, and talk exactly like they do?

Apparently, these children have confused Mexicans and Islamic terrorists. I know the skin tones can be a little confusing if you are not exposed to a diverse group of people but either way, these children are regurgitating racism and xenophobia; neither of which I feel are appropriate or should be tolerated in life and certainly not at the school.

I’m not normally one to email the school with every single infraction or indiscretion. I am an active parent volunteer at the school and I support their mission, that’s why I enrolled my daughters in the school, but this kind of behavior cannot stand. I had to say something. There has to be a zero-tolerance policy for this sort of behavior. These situations warrant a discussion with the children and they need to know in no uncertain terms that prejudice and hatred are not okay on any level. We need to teach the children tolerance and acceptance of differences, not persecution and prejudice.

This election has given people a false belief that it is their right to be judgmental and a false sense of justification in racial profiling and it’s become uncomfortable on a very personal and basic level. I don’t want my daughters thinking there is something fundamentally wrong with being Latino nor do I want them to feel ashamed or like they are being judged or put in danger simply for being born with Latino blood in their body.

I realize that my daughters look Caucasian and may not experience blatant racism as frequently as some other children who have more obvious Latino features but it is sometimes just as uncomfortable being the whitest Mexican in the room, especially when racist comments are being thrown around and you know all the people that you love most in the world are being denigrated. I don’t want my children feeling ashamed of who they are because other children are being taught racism and hatred at home.

I don’t know about you but I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to myself but if you insult or injure my children, you will have me to contend with and I won’t let it go because it is my job to protect my children. If that means I have to hurt someone’s feeling by pointing out that their bad behavior will not be tolerated, then so be it.

What would you have done if your child was experiencing racism at school?

 

 

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brightpeak financial, finances, money, financial planning

Disclosure: This is a compensated campaign about financial planning in collaboration with brightpeak financial® and Latina Bloggers Connect.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve worried about my finances. I grew up poor. A child of a good Catholic immigrant and a southern housewife. There were six children and only my father worked outside of the home because it was important to my parents that my mom be home with us to guide us. I’m thankful that my mom was able to be home with us and grateful that I am able to do the same for my girls. I feel like childhood is fleeting so every moment and memory that I can attend to soak in with my children is precious to me.

The only downside of having only one parent who worked was that we never had a lot of money. So, I grew up anxious about finances. I’m still anxious about money. It’s just one of those things that I’ve learned to deal with by being financially responsible and prioritizing what is worth the cost. I always prefer to keep a cushion in my savings account and when it gets below a certain level, I have a bit of a freak out but that’s the extent of it. I have no real plan in place.

I need to have a financial plan rather than just trying to save a little bit in my savings account. I may as well be stuffing money under my mattress. Unfortunately, I wasn’t taught how to do this by my parents. They didn’t have money  to save. There were no college tuitions saved for us. There was no retirement fund. There was a pay-the-bills, live paycheck-to-paycheck mentality and it is not for me. Yet, here I am repeating history.

I’m interested in finding tips, information and guidance to avoid the same financial fate as my parents, but I’ve never felt confident enough to make an appointment with a financial planner. I feel like either they’d laugh at me or simply just shake their head in disbelief at my naiveté. Part of me is afraid to face just how behind we are in saving for our retirement and the girls’ college tuitions.

Because to be really honest, besides the fact that we make a lot more money than my parents did and we both work and we only have two kids, our debt is much higher. More money, more problems and all of that good stuff. I blame the fact that when we were in college they were handing out credit cards in the quad like candy to babies. We all took it and now, we are paying for it, literally. That, and the fact that we had no prior knowledge as to how finances and the real world work.

I needed guidance, and when I was presented with the opportunity to partner with brightpeak financial, a new company for a new way of doing things that’s actually built for people, not for profit, I was thrilled. They help people like me who want to put the real stuff in our lives like faith, family, fulfillment and quality of life first while being smart with our money.

With their new program MoneyMyth.org, brightpeak is using the concept of mythical creatures to bring attention to a common myth in personal finance: the misconception that only wealthy people need a financial plan. The truth is if you have an income and expenses (and who doesn’t?) you need a financial plan.

 

They believe that life is more than money and families shouldn’t have to compromise their values to be financially successful. They know that stronger families create a better world and stronger communities. Through the MYTHS program they are allowing individuals and families to create a financial profile by answering only three multiple-choice questions. This just so happens to be a great way to start a financial plan. I answered the questions, which were basically prioritizing my financial goals, and it presented me with helpful tips and articles on how to get started towards those goals. It was that easy.

brightpeak financial, finances, money, financial planning

The Money Myth program is about more than just saving money, it’s about the spirit of community and helping one another succeed. It’s about turning risks into security by planning ahead and knowing what your goals are in life. Prioritizing and turning wishes into reality.

How are you financial planning for your family’s future?

This is a sponsored campaign written by me on behalf of Brightpeak Financial and WeAllGrow Latina. The opinions and text are all mine.

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