Many thanks to Kety Esquivel and the organizers of the Latinos in Social Media DC (LatiSMDC – http://latism.org/latism-dc) conference for inviting me to teach a kind and gentle yoga class for computer users at the Latinos in Social Media conference on Saturday, December 12 at the National Council of La Raza (www.nclr.org). LatiSMDC is a community building event that will bring together organizations focused on reaching Latinos and the seasoned social media veterans that can help them. Click here to read the agenda: http://latism.org/latism-dc/dc-agenda. Visit http://latism.org/latism-dc/dc-speakers to read a list of the amazing speakers.
Puerto Rico’s Flag
I am really excited about this opportunity because I have been in love with Latino communities, culture, cuisine, music, art, and spirituality since my first visit to Puerto Rico with my family in 1978 and Cuba with the Cuba AIDS Project in 2004. Throughout junior and senior high school, I took Spanish. I also minored in Spanish in college. I am most passionate about Afro-Latinos because of the connection we share to the continent of Africa. I discuss my passion for my adopted culture and trips to Puerto Rico and Cuba in my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self Discovery. See an excerpt below.
My Adopted Culture – (@) Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke
Sometimes we keep prayers from childhood buried in the recesses of our minds. If we are lucky, we may rediscover them and allow them to breathe life into our adult world. Today I discovered one of mine. It was written in Spanish to honor the passion I hold in my heart for my adopted culture.
Yo creo que soy una Latina por que yo siento el afecto para la cultura Latina. Tengo una isla amiga se llama Puerto Rico. Yo quiero pensar y sonar en espanol. Yo quiero dansar y vivir en espanol. Querido Dios, me cambias una Latina, por favor.
I believe that I am a Latina because I feel affection for Latin culture. I have an island friend named Puerto Rico. I want to think and dream in Spanish. I want to dance and live in Spanish. Dear God, Please change me into a Latina.
The first time I conceived remnants of this prayer was during Mr. Candelaria’s Mexican Christmas at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Landover, Maryland. It was the early 1970s. I was in third grade. Jose Feliciano’s holiday song “Feliz Navidad” was popular. My religious education teacher was Mr. Candelaria, a Mexican man with an open heart, giving spirit, passion for folk music, and a commitment to teach his students about his Mexican heritage. Somehow he convinced Father Ward, our parish priest, to permit our class to decorate the outside of the church with brown paper bags that we normally used for school lunches or popcorn that we snuck into the movies. We filled the bags with sand and placed a white candle in the middle of the sand. For Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, we lit the candles and watched their illuminating presence outline the architectural design of the church. It was a magical moment that taught me how we each have a light within us. That light is our spark of divinity. Our job is to keep it lit so that it shines for eternity.
My debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (2007 – www.lovestrouabdours.com) pays tribute to the contributions made by Afro-Latinos to culture, history, music, and dance in the Americas. It features characters with Afro-Cuban, Afro-Mexican, and Afro-Peruvian roots. These characters offer rich dialogue peppered with references to Afro-Latino culture and history. They also work with and maintain positive relationships with African Americans that promote Black and Brown solidarity.
Love’s Troubadours educates readers about Yanga, an African who ran away from his slave master in 1609 and founded the first free African township near Veracruz, Mexico. The novel gives readers an interesting history lesson about American-born African slaves who fled to Mexico in the mid 1800s. Readers also visit museums such as El Museo del Barrio in New York City and National Museum of Mexican Art (formerly known as the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum) in Chicago that exhibit Afro-Latino art. In addition, they have a chance to fall in love with the music of Afro-Cuban jazz musicians Mongo Santamaria and Omar Sosa, Afro-Puerto Rican jazz musician Willie Bobo, and Afro-Peruvian singer Susana Baca. By the end of Love’s Troubadours, readers may find themselves dancing Salsa just like the main character Karma Francois.
Enjoy your day and week!