• Will Ortiz-Febus

You're NOT Latino Enough

Updated: Jul 12, 2019

A lesson from Pixar's Coco on tradition & re-telling of our ancestor's stories.


Pixar's movie Coco recently resonated and stirred my heart in such a way that I began questioning what it meant to truly own one's heritage, traditions, and culture.

In fact, so much so that it sparked quite an intense, yet friendly, debate between a friend and myself as to our "authenticity" in encapsulating what it means to be.....(fill in the blank with your identified ethnic group).


And yes, I am fully aware that the release of this movie was in 2017. It had been one of those movies on my radar to watch but with the hustle and bustle of life slid to the back-burner of my brain until Netflix decided to springboard it back into my mental queue.


With that said, time was taken to ponder and acknowledge that we both have unifying yet different qualities to our ethnic background. In her instance, she is a Texas-raised "Americanized" descendant of Mexican parents. While on the other hand, I am a Maryland-raised "Americanized" descendant of Puerto Rican parents.


We both share a some-what common tongue, Spanish. Although at times it does feel like we might as well be speaking completely different languages with each other when it comes to the difference in dialect and accents. Frijoles vs habichuelasahorita vs ahora, and the list could continue for quite some time.


As you may or may not be able to imagine, these intricacies make for a rather confusing mixture of feelings among all ethnic groups represented here. We end up with our fair share of "you're not enough" moments when it comes to cultural upbringing; tending to not be enough of either side of the equation. When among our Latino peeps, we're not Latino enough. And when among non-Latino peeps, we stand out like sore thumbs.


It's a laughing matter at this point and occurred most recently at an event celebrating Puerto Rican heritage. When asked about my background and after indicating I was Puerto Rican born and raised, no soon the statement had left my lips, it was met with raised eyebrows and counter statement, "really? You don't sound Puerto Rican". " 'Tis my life!", I responded in laughter.


But out of all of this and all joking aside, a sincerely heart-breaking thought crossed my mind; I am not doing enough to incorporate my heritage, culture, and stories of my family into my daily life. Just like in Coco, memories of my greats are not being passed down from generation to generation ensuring we don't forget them, who they were, and where we came from.

Our memories have to be passed down. - Hector (Coco)

With this new conviction in mind, we have decided to find some of and remember these stories; reaching out to family and getting to hear more about our past.

I'd like encourage you, the reader, to do the same. Reach out to your parents, grand-parents and greats (if they are still with you). Ask them to share memorable stories of their childhood, unique events that occurred in their younger years and I urge you, along with me, to never forget them. Listen and pass it on!


Cited: Coco. Dir. Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina. Pixar & Disney, 2017. Film.


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