It is extremely important to me that my kids see themselves in the world in a positive light. Follow along with us as we share about 44 Famous Latinos . This is 1 of 44.
Who is Alma ?
BRIEF BIOGRAPHICAL REFLECTIONS I was born in Camagüey, Cuba, in an old house in the outskirts of town which the remote neighbors believed was haunted. The house had been the home of the patriots in the struggle to win Cuba’s independence from Spain. It held memories of people who had lived in it for over a century. Some of those had been the plantation owners, some shamefully had been held as enslaved workers.
Every evening my grandmother and I sat on the porch to wait for the sunset. As we watched the bats come out from their den in the ceiling, and fly into the darkening sky, I listened to her stories of the struggle for freedom, equality and justice that had been carried on by people who lived in that same house, who perhaps had conspired on that same porch.
Her ability to tell stories made history alive to me and planted the seed that children can listen to very important topics if they are presented as a good story.
She was not the only storyteller in my family. I was blessed by being surrounded by them. Everyone in my family loved a well told story and was good at telling them. Some were exceptionally good.
My uncle Tony loved to tell family stories. He made them very vividly by making himself be a part of the action… even if the story had happened before he became a part of the family by marrying my Aunt Lolita, or even before he was born. And it didn’t matter if anyone tried to make the record straight. He was so convincing in the telling that he actually convinced himself that he’d been there each time!
My father, instead, created for me each night a new chapter of an unending story of the life of human beings in this planet. He was not concerned with the history of kings and conquerors or well-known figures, but rather on how the common people had, a step at a time, created civilizations as we now know them.
This combination of reality and fantasy delighted me. The fact that he created these stories just for me was an extraordinary gift which formed a most powerful bond between us.
I was a rather quiet and observant child. The world around me was fascinating. I was lucky to be allowed long hours by myself in nature. I could watch a bird, a flower or a leave for the longest time and always marvel at its beauty. I lived next to a river and that in itself was a source of constant wonders: leaping frogs, funny tadpoles, skittish turtles that would jump in the water and disappear at the slightest noise, dragonflies and egrets… they have all found a way into my books because they are all so alive in my memory.
And then, there was a town full of people. Making sense of who they really were, what they thought and desired, what they believed on and how they lived, was a fountain of revelations. Every possible character, every possible attitude seemed to exist around me, if I just listened and reflected enough.
Books were wonderful companions and I found myself many times marveling at finding similarities between the people around me and the characters in books. I never believed I would be a writer–although as a teenager I thought I would be a journalist—and became a teacher instead. But my love for words and books made it inevitable that I would become an author. And what a joy it is!
Why is she important to talk about?
Because our cultural is beyond Tacos and Mariachis. Its important to challenge stereotypes instead of reinforce them. Learning about people especially current people that help us see ourselves as Authors, Professors, Actors, Conductors, Historians, Professional Players, Activists, Community Leaders, Physicists, Politicians, Reporters, Muralist, Supreme Court Justices, Scientists , Astronauts U.S. Rep, Comedians, etc. is so important.
There is a tendency to treat all Latinos as immigrants, when in reality Latinos have been on this land before the pilgrims. There is also great diversity among Latinos in terms of ethnic heritage, religion, class, national origin, language, political perspectives, and traditions. There are Latinos of African, European, indigenous, and Asian heritages. Valuing our contributions is important.
Abuelita's Secret written by Alma Flor Ada, Reycraft Books
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