I had the wonderful experience and pleasure of seeing Mana in concert for the first time yesterday at the Allstate Arena. What a spiritual event that was! Not only was my soul filled with beautiful music, but also with such inspiration! They played all their major hits and EVERY song had a different visual effect in the background. Beautiful and beyond description.
When they played "Latinoamerica", I lost it. I broke into tears and felt the meaning and words of that song for those few minutes of the song's duration. I looked all around me and everyone was chanting, hands up in the air, smiling from ear to ear and singing the lyrics at the top of their lungs. It was surreal.
When I came home, I had to sit for a second to reflect upon my tears and sudden emotion during that concert. It hit me like a high speed train. I AM Latina. My parents are Latinos. My family and friends are Latinos. I am surrounded daily by people who struggle to make a dent in this country. I was born here, with so many privileges and have forgotten that it is not so easy for everyone else. My parents and the parents of many of my generation have bled, sweat, died trying to make a decent living in the U.S. Yet, here we are, as adults, and the struggle continues.
The estimated Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2009, making people of Hispanic origin the nation's largest ethnic or race minority. Hispanics constituted 16 percent of the nation's total population. In addition, there are approximately 4 million residents of Puerto Rico, a Caribbean U.S. territory.
Amazing isn't it? But the fight isn't over. Latinos are continuously looked down upon, ridiculed, harassed, hidden and often killed. We as Latinos need to continue to fight, "Luchar", and break the boundaries that separate us from the rest of the country.
I may not be much but just one person, with one voice, but I still matter. As long as I matter, I will stay on the path I'm on because I believe I was given a gift. Not just a creative and artistic gift, but the gift to matter, to make a difference. I still remember when "Tely" invited me to speak to her 2nd grade class about my profession. The children were full of hope and inspiration. Their eyes mesmerized and their ears soaked up what I said like a dry sponge. Afterwards, a little girl came up to me to show me her sketches of dresses she had designed. She said she wanted to be a designer when she grew up. I told her, "Mija, keep drawing and don't let anyone stop you, or tell you you can't do it." She was so happy! I will never forget that.
I will also remember the words of my dear friend who said to me recently, "Whatever you do, don't stop making clothes. It's your gift, your craft. Don't stop." Those words echo in my mind and in my heart. Whenever things get a little crazy or too difficult for me to bear, I go back to that little girl, my friend's words. They bring me back to the ground and I remember why I do what I do. I do it for love. It's not for money. It's not for fame. It's not for anything but the sheer love and passion in my heart for it. So I say, especially to all my fellow Latinos, keep doing and keep dreaming.
Here is an image from last night's concert. This was right after Mana played "Latinoamerica"
...and the song that sparked it all.