For three decades now, I have been immersed in New York City’s "wavin’ flag" culture, in which flags from all over the world are tacked on cars and in the windows of homes at full-mast. And as a mixed-raced American, my family raises four, to be exact; the American, Puerto Rican, Bahamian, and Honduran flags are prominently placed on the mantle of my childhood home. From a very young age, I was taught that it was an honor to come from these places, and to feel free to exclaim my pride at every International Day at school, every parade, and, simply, to anyone who asked.
But if I’m being honest, as camera crews slowly left Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane María, and the sitting U.S. president threw paper towels at crowds of hungry people who looked like me, I felt the people behind the flag simply didn’t matter to the world at large. Then during the summer, it was hard to find it in my heart to wear red, white, and blue on the Fourth of July at the height of the border crisis, when Honduran children were ripped from their families and put into cages. I witnessed my cultures being whittled down to crisis and global negligence. And I wanted to the world to just see all of us: those forced to live in the shadows out of fear, and those of us who can live free of those fears, but feel hopeless in fixing them.
The Spanish word "míranos" means "see us" — and that’s exactly the word Bustle has chosen as its theme for this month’s Latinx Heritage Month. In a time when many in the Latinx community feel like they’re living in the outskirts of the American psyche — whether it be due to immigration anxiety and fears for family and friends, or endless stereotypes that pigeonhole us into tropes we never were — Bustle hopes to instead celebrate the extraordinary culture that makes us such an asset to the American tapestry. From our varied experiences, our contributions to art, history, and politics, to the richness of our cultural traditions and cuisines, there are endless aspects of the Latinx community to push to the forefront and to celebrate.
As part of our series, notable figures and newsmakers in the realms of news, entertainment, fashion, and more will share "love letters" to those groups in the community who may feel forgotten, unheard, and neglected. For starters, former Nevada assemblywoman Lucy Flores pens a letter to all of the Latinx women who are "the first" or "the only" in their fields, and author Katie Gutierrez shares how fellow Latinx authors helped her realize that there are so many stories happening at the border that deserve to be told.
And before I end this letter, there is one group I’d love to speak to in particular:
To the young children at the border, you are seen and you do matter. I have the privilege of being born an American citizen, and I can’t pretend to ever know what it must feel like to flee a country, or wait months to years on end for the necessary documents and procedures to become one. It’s with such a heavy heart that I see your faces on the news and social media, and I feel like there’s nothing I can do to help a situation that feels so hopeless, but that is not true.
I get to be seen, and I get to have a platform. I get to fight for you, and I get to let you know that through me, you do have a voice. And this is why I urge everyone who can help, to donate to Save The Children U.S. Border Crisis’ emergency response program. The organization has long-standing programs to help children and adolescents in Central America, particularly Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and my family’s country of origin, Honduras.
To those new to Latinx culture, welcome. Get to know us for who we really are. And for those Latinx Americans who are celebrating this month, we hope that you’ll get to see the culture you love and the flags you raise, celebrated in all the glory they truly deserve.
Bustle’s Míranos package highlights the extraordinary people of the Latinx community, letting the world truly “see us” at a time when it matters most.
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