"Living Latine is a kaleidoscope..." an essay from Talisa Ramos
This essay was written by Talisa Ramos, Manager, Multicultural Marketing.
For me, Living Latine is a kaleidoscope of so many joyous things. As a Puerto Rican who is the 2nd generation to grow up in New York and not Puerto Rico, I feel a deep reverence for being Nuyorican.
So much so, that I actually wrote my senior thesis in college about the nuances and complexities of Puerto Ricans being granted American citizenship as of the 1917 Jones Act, and the century plus that has followed wherein Puerto Rico is so often siloed and denied from the privileges and rights that states have, and simultaneously, has its right to its own self-determination & independence limited and undermined. That, however, is quite literally a whole other essay!
So much of my love for my background and more broadly, the various facets of Latine cultures and traditions, comes down to the little things and the micro moments. It’s hearing my mom and grandma recount with laughter that my first word was “chocolate” but in its Spanish pronunciation. It is the fact that on any day of the year, any season, any time of day—regardless of if I’ve already eaten or am not even particularly hungry—I will easily put away at least two pasteles and definitely consider having a third. This is absolutely one of my “if you could only eat the same 4 things for the rest of your life what would they be?” foods. I hope to be able to make them myself one day, but as you’ll see if you click on that YouTube tutorial—they are quite labor intensive, so make sure that you’re extra grateful to the chef if you try these at a restaurant or have a go to spot already, and if you’re lucky enough to have someone in your life who can make these, you have my envy!
It’s having your identity celebrated by those who love you and know you best—like my best friend getting us tickets to one day of the 2022 Made in America festival to see Bad Bunny headline as a birthday present, and her getting me the Diasporican cookbook as a Christmas gift. Side bar: I felt really bad letting her know that I actually already owned two copies of the book since PRH publishes it, but it truly is the thought that counts, and now she knows to check the publisher before buying me a book!
It is resonating with being a “no sabo” kid, always eager to improve my fluency and feeling more comfortable with communicating via written Spanish as opposed to verbal, but also like Spanish is the language of my heart, with a warmth and passion inherent to its delivery that always makes me feel at ease. And while I may stumble over my words when I have conversations in Spanish, some of my absolute favorite songs are entirely in Spanish from Karol G’s Mañana Será Bonito to Alejandro Sanz’s Corazón Partío to Julieta Venegas’ Limon y Sal. The older I’ve gotten the more that I’ve realized that while I absolutely want to continue to improve my Spanish, learn more about Puerto Rico past, present, and future, and certainly visit more—I’ve been twice so far, as a child and young teen—I don’t need to do any of those things from a place of not feeling like Puerto Rican “enough“ yet. I get to do it because I want to, and because I have a drive to be able to share some of my knowledge with generations to come. It’s been such a relief to realize that there’s no one way to feel like you know enough about your cultural background—it’s not a badge that comes because you’re 100% bilingual or have been exposed to certain elements of your culture—there is always time for that! Though, I do feel very grateful that I got to see Walter Mercado send us “mucho, mucho amor” live from my grandma’s TV screen back in the day.
Lastly, I feel so grateful to be living in an era where outlets like Refinery29 Somos, We All Grow Latina, Blactina, and Nuevayorkinos, just to name a few, are giving voice to a diaspora that actually has never been, and never will be, one size fits all. While there is still so far to go in terms of media and society at large understanding that Latine folks are not a monolith – being of all ethnicities and races, speaking different languages, and more—I am heartened by shows and movies that have both representation that is central and incidental to the storylines. Some of my favorites: Gentefied, Vampires vs. The Bronx, With Love, the Pretty Little Liars reboot, the latest two installments of the Scream franchise, Miguel Wants to Fight and most recently, Shelter, based on PYR’s own series by Harlan Coben.
And, of course, it is the honor of a lifetime to work on amazing books by Latine & Hispanic creators, and to have opportunities to share about what being in publishing is like, through organizations like Latinx in Publishing and their Sala Sunday takeover series.
May we all feel seen, heard, and loved for all of the facets of who we are, day in and day out.
Talisa Ramos is a born and raised New Yorker/Nuyorican. A graduate of Barnard College, she earned her degree in American Studies and is a volunteer with We Need Diverse Books. A proud long-time Brooklynite, she currently lives in Brooklyn with family and her precocious dog Jax, where she can be found binge reading or binge watching compelling stories of all genres.
We are so grateful for all the colleagues who responded to the “What Does Living Latine Mean to You?” OurHouse open call. This week, we will be sharing their personal, heartfelt essays on Ourhouse. Stay tuned for more to come throughout the week and if something resonates with you, be sure to reach out to your colleagues!