Sunday, October 27, 2013

Los Liberales

For a Hispanic American, my family is considered…progressive. Growing up, my friend’s parents used to call us “Los Liberales” which translates in English to “The Liberals.” How did we get this name you ask?

They couldn't understand how it was possible that my divorced parents and their new significant others got along so incredibly well. You see, my mother, her boyfriend, my father and his boyfriend are all very good friends. They really enjoy eating at different restaurants on the weekends and going to Barry Manilow concerts together.

“In 2012 for the first time, more Latinos said they favored same-sex marriage than opposed it (52% versus 34%) according to a Pew Hispanic Center survey.” Read more from this article here.

Attitudes about homosexuality among Hispanics and Hispanic Americans have been evolving, particularly in South Florida. Growing up, I always got a double take when I mentioned my father and his partner. That barely noticeable hesitation I get as a reaction has never bothered me and I actually have always found it a little funny.  

When one family member succeeds, it often reflects positively on the entire family. Many Latina/o families also believe the opposite to be true, and because there is bias against gays, that silences some LGBT Latinas/os, as well as relatives who might otherwise be supportive." Read the whole article here. 

Hispanics are big on family identity, so every time someone new learns this about my family it is kind of like I am coming out too. I am a proud little closet monster who loves jumping out and surprising people, if only momentarily. [Insert evil grin here] Thankfully, I have never really felt I was stigmatized or made fun of while I was growing up like I have heard is common in other situations for different people. 

When my father and his partner visit their native country, they are radically different than they are at home in Miami, far more conservative in how they present their relationship. The way they introduce each other as “roommates” to their friends and family speaks volumes. I can immediately tell that homosexual relationships are not as accepted and a front is expected to be put up in order to disguise the blatantly obvious. Thankfully, in rainbow friendly Miami which we call home, the roommate title is so 90’s.

“According to the National Survey of Latinos, support for allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally is highest among Latino adults with no religious affiliation (71%), Latinos ages 18 to 29 (68%), Latinos who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party (60%) and Latinos with some college education or more (63%).” See a more developed picture of the overall numbers here.

I’m not saying that there’s no discrimination in South Florida against gays in the Hispanic community. But I can definitely see a progression where there wasn't before.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

What's Cooking?

When it comes to what is on the dinner table, for many Hispanic Americans, traditional recipes are a favorite. But lately with different health and fitness trends like going organic, paleo, or vegan coupled with exercise like Crossfit, abuelita’s cooking just isn't cutting it. For health conscious Hispanic Americans, when it comes to cooking at home, many are trading their seriously fattening white rice for brown rice, some scrapping it from their diets altogether. In an effort to fight obesity and adopt a more healthy lifestyle, traditional recipes are being altered by substituting traditional ingredients for healthier options.

Another thing to take into consideration about dietary changes in the Hispanic American community is the fact that second and third generations are learning to cook online. In the past, recipes for Hispanic dishes have been traditionally passed down in the kitchen at home from generation to generation by mothers, fathers and grandparents to children and grandchildren. Today, more and more people are going online to websites such as Pinterest and cooking sites like and allrecipes for dinner ideas. These websites are host to a community of people from all kinds of backgrounds that want to share their recipes with others.The end result is less time spent by second and third generation Hispanic Americans learning traditional Hispanic recipes, and more time online for culturally varied dishes at the dinner table. In the past, it may have been rare to see something like stir fry or fettuccine alfredo on a Hispanic dinner table, now it is the norm.

I like to think I have found a way to balance healthy eating habits and preserving the traditional recipes of my Hispanic American culture. I still occasionally make all of the traditional dishes but use as many organic and locally grown ingredients as possible. I also try to incorporate more vegetables like cauliflower, zucchini, and broccoli in addition to the ones Cubans traditionally use like beans, yucca, and  tomato. Even though, I believe tomato is technically a fruit... We are totally in denial.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sh*t Miamians Say

There’s no place like Miami. Anyone who has been here knows that even though we are a part of the U.S. it still feels like you should need a passport to come here. Among the varieties of culture and year round beach weather, Miami is also beginning to be known for something else. Miami now has its own dialect.

I remember the first time I realized I had a “Miami accent.” I was at a mall in Broward County and a man at the register asked me if I was from Miami. “Yes. How did you know?” I asked. He smiled as if there was a joke I wasn’t getting and replied “I can tell from your accent.”

I have an accent?

But... I’m American.

Turns out what I have isn't just an accent. Apparently my Miami twang is also accompanied by the Miami dialect. Want to know more about the difference between an accent and a dialect? Read this post by Ben Trawick-Smith on Dialect Blog. The basic difference is that an accent is what someone who is foreign born has when they speak English because English is not their first language. [Insert joke about Miami being foreign here] A dialect is something that native born speakers adopt when English is their first language.

I have a friend who is a Lebanese American and has lived in Miami his whole life. We went to high school together and I’d always assumed that somehow, like everyone else I went to school with, he was part Hispanic. Similar to native Miamians, his words were devoid of any long nasal vowels. Because of this, I always assumed he knew and spoke Spanish. Then, one day, he asked me to translate something on a menu for him that happened to be written in Spanish. I laughed at him.

“Dude, you can speak Spanish and not read it?”
“I don’t speak Spanish.”

Mind blown. For a minute I actually tried to argue that of course he spoke Spanish. I mean, he sounded like he spoke Spanish. That was when he broke the news that he actually had no Hispanic origins and didn't speak a word of Spanish. Oh.

The Miami accent strikes again.

Great articles exploring this phenomenon here.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Love & Marriage: Opting to Live in Sin Instead

In many Hispanic cultures, moving out before you are married is almost completely unheard of. Moving out of your house and into your own place with your significant other before you are married is downright blasphemous. Normally, this isn't much of a problem since in Hispanic cultures, generally speaking, it is not uncommon for people to marry and have children at a young age. Read about some common attitudes among Hispanics about marriage here. With trends in the U.S. leaning more towards marriage and children at a later age, this difference in culture creates a problem among Millennials.
In American culture, getting married or having children before 25 is considered young and for some just completely out of the question. Yet when it comes to moving out, 18 is a perfectly acceptable age. Herein lies the problem. With more and more Hispanic Americans getting married and having children at a later age, the option of waiting until marriage to move out is getting pushed further and further off the dinner table, much to the dismay of Hispanic parents.
I was 22 when I decided to move in with my boyfriend who I saw a potential for a future with. My Catholic mother went bat shit.

“Are you getting married?”
“But what will people think?”

Not being particularly religious myself, I had none of the same concerns she did. I felt I was doing what people my age were supposed to be doing. Working, studying and trying to forge a quality relationship with someone. In the American films and television shows I grew up watching, people date for a while and then live together if things get serious and marriage is an option. In fact, in most of the rom-coms of my generation, the characters are single or cohabiting well into their early thirties. Normal. For my mom, and many other Hispanic parents, not so much.

Check out Knot Yet a national marrying project that examines the changes in marriage amongst americans today.