San Francisco, CA — Every year during Hispanic Heritage Month, there is a lot of fleeting support of Latine communities. Similar to many other identity groups, companies often engage in performative corporate activism or uplifting Latine media for limited amounts of time. Latine contributions are worthy of being supported year-round — rather than a simple repost on social media stories.
Intergenerational trauma is a shared experience for many immigrant households. Laura Esquivel tackles this issue in her most famous novel, Like Water for Chocolate. This fable follows a complex relationship between a girl, Tita, and her mother, Elena. It also delves into folklore and pays homage to traditional healing practices. Like many of Esquivel’s other novels, this story also falls into the category of magical realism. And in it, she delves into the intersections of gender roles and relationships.
Elizabeth Acevedo is a Dominican-American poet and author who often writes stories that center Afro-Latina women as the protagonists. Acevedo has received many awards for her work, but one novel that she is widely known for is The Poet X. Written almost entirely in verse, The Poet X is a coming-of-age novel that follows a teenage girl named Xiomara as she navigates issues of self-acceptance and self-discovery.
Goyo is an Afro-Colombian reggaeton artist whose work is full of social commentary and empowering lyrics for her listeners. Despite reggaeton and dembow’s stereotype of simply being club music, she uses her music to unapologetically acknowledge the difficult realities of modern life. Her voice is a crucial one — frequently acknowledging the misrepresentation of Afro-Colombian people. Goyo works to empower her community, as well as Afro-Latine people across South America and the Caribbean.
Most commonly known for his cover of the song, “Toro Mata,” Caitro Soto is a beloved Afro-Peruvian artist who worked to empower his community. A part of the musical ensemble called Perú Negro, he made it abundantly clear that his goal was to preserve the beauty and the roots of Afro-Peruvian music.
Wifredo Lam is a Cuban-Indigenous, Black and Chinese visual artist whose work reflects not only his own background, but the mixed heritage and cultures of Cuban people as a whole. His work is emblematic of the bonds found throughout Latin America. Being Latine can mean many things, and his work reflects the diversity that is found throughout the Americas. One of his most popular pieces is “La Jungla.”
Mariana Rondón is a Venezuelan screenwriter. She made the 2013 film “Pelo Malo,” a story about a young boy with curly hair who is navigating his Afro-Latin identity. It shows him coming to terms with and learning to love his Afro descendant roots even though such conversations are not happening around him. Rondón’s work speaks to the impact that texturism and colorism can have on Latine youth, critiquing the utter lack of race-related conversation in western society.
Tomie Ohtake was a Brazilian-Japanese artist whose work reflected her cross-cultural lineage. People of Japanese descent make up over 1 million of the Brazilian population, and her work contributed to a more peaceful relationship between non-Japanese and Japanese Brazilians. "Ondas," one of her most widely known sculptures, paid homage to the mass immigration that took place from Japan to Brazil despite the division between the communities. She is similarly well-known for her abstract paintings, otherwise known as "Blind Art," which was the work she completed while blindfolded.
Ivelisse Diaz (she/they) is a college student studying psychology from Oakland, California.
Edited by Amber Ly