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What is Your Culture?

diegoriveraWhat is YOUR culture? Did you grow up in a place where you held rituals and ceremonies also held in the countries from which your ancestors came? Did you grow up speaking Spanish, listening to a certain kind of music, eating certain foods, and believing certain myths and superstitions?

Is YOUR culture an urban culture or a rural culture? Is it imbued with religious symbolism or none at all? Did you grow up in a neighborhood where everyone knew their neighbors? Were your immediate family close by?

Although there are stereotypes about what "Latino culture" is, in reality we have many cultures, and many varieties of culture. In addition to different traditions, sayings and histories from different Latin American countries, we also have a unique blend of cultures when we come to the U.S.

There is no "one" Latino culture; in fact, we have unique blends. Your culture is even different from that of your parents, in part because you grew up at a different moment in time. Your historical journey is uniquely situational and overlaid with the political milieu that surrounded your growing up years, and continues to surround you even now.

A Latina who was born and raised in Argentina, went to college and graduate school in South America, and then later came the U.S. to work and raise children has a different "culture" than a Puerto Rican woman who grew up in low-income housing in New York. I've interviewed both types of women as part of my Powerful Latina interviewees, and although they are both Latina, they also both inhabit their "Latina- ness" in very different ways.

Take a moment to think about what YOUR culture is. What is important to you, and how did you learn those values? And even more important -- how do you carry on those values and teach them to others?

Our "culture" as Latinos is becoming an interesting cultural-racial- ethnic and SITUATIONAL mix... Where will we go from here? It is up to us to decide. However it is important that we first identify and decide what *our* culture is for ourselves.

There are many things that, in looking at Latinos as a whole, can be generally said about the "Latino" culture -- a strong work ethnic, strong family structure, a belief in the importance of communities, etc. However, these characteristics do not fit across the board for *all* Latinos, and even when they do, the way in which they play out is different.

We get to choose how we embody Latino culture today, and what we show to OTHERS about what it will mean for the future. Take a moment to reflect and be thoughtful about your place in this dynamic world.

Author: Aurelia Flores

Aurelia Flores wants to offer a learning opportunity to other women who might find themselves in similar shoes. She strongly believes women can learn from other women, no matter where they are in their career or life path. Click here to find out more.

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