Stories that Bynd Us: Hispanic Heritage Month - Julián
Tell us about your Hispanic/Latin background?
I was born in Colombia. my family is a combination of races and ethnicities; from my dad's side they're white, but my mom's family is a combination between Spanish, Indigenous, and Black. Also, according to a DNA test I did recently, I'm 58% Southern European, 23% indigenous American and 9% African.
Tell us about your Hispanic/Latin family.
If you've seen the movie 'Encanto' you pretty much know what to expect from a Colombian family: we all have super powers.😎 Jokes aside, similar to the movie, my family is big, diverse, conservative and traditional. In addition, my grandma is the matriarch, and they feel they have a say on everything you do, 🥲 which can be annoying. But on the other hand, you get a string and unconditional support system that has been critical and helpful throughout my life. Also very similar to the movie: they're all expert salsa dancers; it's pretty embedded in the culture (and no, I don't dance, and no, I can't teach you, and yes, I'm an embarrassment to my family. 😅
If you've seen the movie 'Encanto' you pretty much know what to expect from a Colombian family: we all have super powers. 😎
What does Hispanic Heritage month mean to you?
Not a lot, if I'm honest. We don't celebrate that in the Netherlands, where I live. That being said, on October 12, Spanish speaking countries tend to celebrate a number of things related to Hispanicity. For example Spain has its 'Hispanic Day' to celebrate 'Spanish legacy', especially in the Americas. In Colombia, we use that day to commemorate something deeper; the 'Dia de la Diversidad Étnica y Cultural' (Ethnic and Cultural Diversity Day), which elevates the fact that we as a community are way more than what the Spanish left us.
What does it mean to be part of the hispanic community?
Unfortunately, it often means people will have a weird idea of who you are and what your intent is - I've often been treated as a drug dealer, or assumed as a poor person stealing someone else's birthright job. Most of the time, however, it means kindness in the face of adversity; being part of a group of millions of people that share a common history, struggles and language and that see one another as brothers and sisters. Most of my friends are non-hispanic, but there's always a sense of complicity and camaraderie when meeting a fellow Latin American. It feels like you just met another member of your family and that you're aways going to be there for.
What makes you proud to be hispanic?
Our resilience. And our capacity to face life with a smile and with kindness towards others.
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