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Latino Greek Organizations

Walking up and down the UCLA campus, it is almost impossible not to point out students wearing their Greek letters. As the Latino population continues to grow at UCLA, more and more have looked to join these organizations.

Their presence on campus is being felt now that the Latino Greek Council has grown to include six organizations: Gamma Zeta Alpha, Lambda Theta Alpha, Lambda Theta Nu, Nu Alpha Kappa, Phi Lambda Rho, Sigma Lambda Gamma, and one colony (a probationary organization), Sigma Lambda Beta.

Each organization has made it known that they do not want to be seen as the stereotypical sorority and fraternity depicted in movies.

These young Latinos look to these organizations as a backbone to help them throughout their college and professional careers, and as a home away from home that can be used as a vehicle for change.

Many of the students have a wide array of issues that they want to address, and they look to their organizations to do that.

Edwin Orozco-Sanchez, a second-year sociology student and member of Nu Alpha Kappa, makes it clear that the stereotype of party animals is something that his fraternity fights on a regular basis. These stereotypes made him not want to join any fraternity.

“Before arriving to UCLA I told myself that I didn’t want to get caught up with the Greek life and that I had more important things to concern myself with,” said Orozco-Sanchez.

He later stated that what actually changed his mind was talking to a fraternity member. He could relate to the organization’s goals of academics, brotherhood, and culture.

His story is not very different from other Latinos on campus who want something other than the traditional activities of Greek life.

Samantha Castillo, a fourth-year psychology student and member of Sigma Lambda Gamma, preferred the Latino based sorority over others.

“It was more of a close-knit group of girls because of the smaller numbers in members,” said Castillo.

Ruby Arias, a fourth-year sociology student and member of Lambda Theta Nu, was excited to talk about her organization’s philanthropies.

“The girls work very hard to make sure that our conference happens. We bring girls from all over the city to show that they too can come to a four-year university and succeed.  We try to plant the seed to help them mature into intelligent, beautiful young ladies,” said Arias.

Throughout the year, these organizations put together on-and-off-campus events.

“This year we have a lot of community service events we are trying to accomplish. A big and new one this year is a dodgeball tournament to raise money for a scholarship that will be awarded to an AB540 student, bringing awareness to that issue on campus,” said Henry Rivera, a fourth-year Chicana/o studies student and member of Gamma Zeta Alpha.

Latino greek organizations strive to promote a better way of life for themselves and for everyone who comes into contact with them.

census map latino sleeping giant

When Will the Sleeping Giant Awaken?

With last year’s census results revealing that the Latino community is the largest minority group in the United States, many suggest that the future lies in our hands. Latino organizations in defense for migratory reform have suggested that Latinos will have a considerable impact in the 2012 presidential elections. But at the moment, our growing numbers have not translated to significant political or economic reforms to improve our community. Instead, we have experienced an increase in hostile policies targeting Latino immigrants.

During the 2008 elections, President Barack Obama’s exuberant campaign sought Latino support, cleverly appealing to our sensibilities. In July 2008 Obama spoke to the Latino community of San Diego saying, “The system isn’t working when Hispanics are losing their jobs faster than almost anybody else… when communities are terrorized by ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] immigration rates … and we need to change it.” These promises for immigration reform remain unfulfilled.

Obama has stated that Republican support is necessary to make significant changes in immigration policies. While this is true, the president still has the executive power to push immigration reform more effectively. Representatives of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have stated that the president could actually use his power in office to halt deportations. They also stated that Obama can take “administrative action which can immediately address the most grievous shortcomings of our broken immigration system.”

But the “system” remains broken. Arizona criminalized undocumented individuals with the SB 1070 law, the Senate blocked the DREAM Act, and over one million immigrants have been deported, an unprecedented amount.
We continue to see political action motivated by both ends of the political spectrum. Recently, Obama appeared at El Paso, Texas to speak once more for immigration reform. His speech was followed by the reintroduction of the DREAM Act by Democrats. On the other hand, Republicans in Arizona are attempting to preserve the SB 1070 law after the Supreme Court blocked major portions of the bill. Chicano studies Professor Robert Chao Romero suggests that both political parties are making calculated moves and compromises. “This is a tricky situation…and hope remains to be seen,” said Romero.

Amidst all this, what role is the Latino community playing in this story? According to census estimates, Latino voter numbers increased, from roughly 7.5 million in 2004 elections to 9.7 million in 2008. Numbers alone are not enough. In the march for immigration reform on May 1, only a few thousand people showed up to support. A huge decline in comparison to the 60,000 supporters who came out just last year.  Are we losing hope, or are we just plain lazy?
“The problem with May 1 is that there was no unified voice or vision,” said Romero. “There is potential for political empowerment but it needs organization.”

Our growing Latino community has fallen short of making a significant contribution for change. Yes, we have faced aggressive legislative action but politics are not the only factor; we need to strengthen our voice. Otherwise, how hopeful can our community be for the future, whether for the 2012 elections or for a long term outlook?

census map latino sleeping giant

When Will the Sleeping Giant Awaken?

With last year’s census results revealing that the Latino community is the largest minority group in the United States, many suggest that the future lies in our hands. Latino organizations in defense for migratory reform have suggested that Latinos will have a considerable impact in the 2012 presidential elections. But at the moment, our growing numbers have not translated to significant political or economic reforms to improve our community. Instead, we have experienced an increase in hostile policies targeting Latino immigrants.

During the 2008 elections, President Barack Obama’s exuberant campaign sought Latino support, cleverly appealing to our sensibilities. In July 2008 Obama spoke to the Latino community of San Diego saying, “The system isn’t working when Hispanics are losing their jobs faster than almost anybody else… when communities are terrorized by ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] immigration rates … and we need to change it.” These promises for immigration reform remain unfulfilled.

Obama has stated that Republican support is necessary to make significant changes in immigration policies. While this is true, the president still has the executive power to push immigration reform more effectively. Representatives of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have stated that the president could actually use his power in office to halt deportations. They also stated that Obama can take “administrative action which can immediately address the most grievous shortcomings of our broken immigration system.”

But the “system” remains broken. Arizona criminalized undocumented individuals with the SB 1070 law, the Senate blocked the DREAM Act, and over one million immigrants have been deported, an unprecedented amount.
We continue to see political action motivated by both ends of the political spectrum. Recently, Obama appeared at El Paso, Texas to speak once more for immigration reform. His speech was followed by the reintroduction of the DREAM Act by Democrats. On the other hand, Republicans in Arizona are attempting to preserve the SB 1070 law after the Supreme Court blocked major portions of the bill. Chicano studies Professor Robert Chao Romero suggests that both political parties are making calculated moves and compromises. “This is a tricky situation…and hope remains to be seen,” said Romero.

Amidst all this, what role is the Latino community playing in this story? According to census estimates, Latino voter numbers increased, from roughly 7.5 million in 2004 elections to 9.7 million in 2008. Numbers alone are not enough. In the march for immigration reform on May 1, only a few thousand people showed up to support. A huge decline in comparison to the 60,000 supporters who came out just last year.  Are we losing hope, or are we just plain lazy?
“The problem with May 1 is that there was no unified voice or vision,” said Romero. “There is potential for political empowerment but it needs organization.”

Our growing Latino community has fallen short of making a significant contribution for change. Yes, we have faced aggressive legislative action but politics are not the only factor; we need to strengthen our voice. Otherwise, how hopeful can our community be for the future, whether for the 2012 elections or for a long term outlook?

bobby salcedo cropped

Bobby, Never Really Gone

People come into your life for different reasons. I met Claudia last quarter in a Chicana/o studies literature class and we briefly got to know each other, though we didn’t form a personal connection. In another class together this quarter, I realized we have a strong connection involving my cousin Bobby.

La Gente reported on the murder of the beloved El Monte educator, Agustin Roberto Salcedo, 16 months ago. He was a community activist, president of South El Monte Sister Cities Association, and assistant principal of El Monte High School. But he was also my cousin Bobby: “ocurrente,” hilarious and compassionate. The big cousin who always gave me advice about school and listened to me complain about people who told me I wasn’t Mexican enough.

Bobby was also a mentor to many students, including Claudia. He was her teacher at her high school, South El Monte High, where he helped her get involved in her community and, ultimately, with her successful application to UCLA.

On the day Claudia and I had our first in-depth conversation, she told me she had known about me for years. Bobby told her about my involvement at UCLA and had suggested she meet me. Now we are friends.

People have told me that Bobby often spoke to them about my accomplishments and how proud he was of me, but I never took it to heart. Claudia proved to me that it was true. She told me that Bobby would talk to her about my admittance to UCLA, my involvement with La Gente, and my scholarship. My heart swelled as bittersweet tears rolled down my face.

I feel that I have been stuck in a dream this past year and a half, trying to rediscover meaning and goals for my life, but Claudia helped me breathe again. She reminded me of the person I was a year and a half ago and of the ambitious goals I lost sight of – the young woman Bobby believed in. I know that I can still pursue social change for my community.

I think that Bobby brought Claudia into my life for many reasons only time will reveal, but I wish he were here to see that. With graduation quickly approaching, I have agonized over where I will go next, and I wish I could turn to Bobby. But I know he is always with me: his memory, his words, and his spirit continue to guide me and surprise me in my everyday life.

UPDATE:

As of today, Bobby’s murderers have not been identified. In March 2010, Rep. Judy Chu passed a resolution honoring Bobby Salcedo and calling for more US assistance in Mexico’s war against drug cartels. Drug and gun-related trafficking across the border are among the issues surrounding the case.

Bobby’s murder was devastating, but my family is committed to honoring Bobby’s life and mission. To sustain Bobby’s commitment to education and empowerment, we began the Bobby Salcedo Memorial Foundation, which provides educational scholarships to students from South El Monte High School. Recently, the El Monte City School District administration building and the state Route 60 were also named in Bobby’s honor.

mountains

A Mountain of a Dream

Los Angeles is visible
Beyond the rising towers
And the holy Hollywood Sign:

Her ornate beauty shines
In the glittering taco trucks
Adorned with packed choice of tastes;

Her innate warmth resides
In the gleaming smiles of children
Salivating for a moist ice cream
From the wobbly cart of
An immigrant—
Fresh from the countryside of
El Salvador
Pushed by sweaty palms
And sheer American will.

Los Angeles can be seen,
Clearly,
My dear,
Tonight,
As we cling to caffeine
And contemplate la luna y las estrellas
Of future years:

An island of a thought;
A mountain of a dream.

-José Hernandez Díaz

Norwalk, CA
UC Berkeley

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You May Be Homosexual, But Are You Homotextual?

Coming out could be easier today than it was a decade ago! Think about it, all you’ve got to do is text your dad and tell him you’re a homo. Or, email your mom and let her know she doesn’t have to worry about you getting knocked up before you finish college! Ooooor just put that shit on Facebook and let people figure it out.

I think I’d rather get a beating or verbal lashing than forever live out my sexuality as an unspoken truth. It would seriously consume me and I’d end up growing tired of the burden and burst out, “I’m gay!” at some inappropriate time. Like maybe during my distant cousin’s neighbor’s daughter’s quinceañera. Uh-uh, no es bueno.

Anyway, I figure using technology to come out of the closet can be interpreted in one of two ways: it’s either a bitch move or it’s a sign of an individual who is tired of bullshit and boldly decides to put his or her true rainbow colors out there.

Some feel that putting it all on the table is reckless and insensitive towards family and close friends. But even sitting a person down and giving them “the talk” doesn’t make the process any easier.
I had to come out to my mom seven or eight times in different ways! There was a talk that turned into a lecture, then a letter, then, an email, a talk, a phone call, another talk, another lecture and yet another talk – all over the course of five years.

Bottom line, you have to figure out what works for you. If you’re a talker, talk it out. If you get emotional or have difficulty communicating face to face, maybe a well thought out e-mail would be a better approach. Maybe even after writing out the precursory e-mail, you’ll be able to just sit down and talk.

There’s no perfect way to handle the situation. If your family is ready to, they will accept you – regardless your tactic.

-Ariana Castellanos, Contributor

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From Spanish to Spanglish: The language of the future?

A mural in an area with high Latino population uses the Spanglish word yonkes, which means junkyard. PHOTO:Haidee Pacheco.

Donde parkeaste el carro?

Is this something you are likely to say? If it is, then you are already familiar with Spanglish, a blend of Spanish and English originating from the Latino communities in the US.

While the US doesn’t have an official lan- guage, it is English dominant. In a cultural and linguistic rendezvous, Spanish-speaking immigrants have amalgamated their native language with that of the US.

Spanish colonization introduced the Spanish language into the Americas. But Spanish became a prominent language in the US after the victory of the Mexican-American War when Mexico lost almost half of its territory, including most of the Southwestern US.

The US gained new territory, new people, and most importantly a new language. With the help of the ongoing cultural exchanges, this language evolved into a new dialect: Spanglish.

Bilingual Latinos frequently engage in code-switching, alternating between English and Spanish in the same conversation. Zindy Valdovinos, a UCLA second-year history student of Mexican descent, grew up speaking both English and Spanish. She was raised speaking Spanish in her home, but English dominates her interactions outside the home.

“A veces hablo en inglés y español a la misma vez…cambio las palabras y luego, like, se me confunde el inglés con el español,” said Valdovinos. (“Sometimes I speak English and Spanish at the same time…I change the words and then, like, I confuse English with Spanish.”)

There it is. A seemingly natural insertion of the word “like” and, instantly, a Spanish conversation becomes a Spanglish conversation.

Pia Urtubia, a UCLA second-year psychobiology student of Chilean descent, also grew up speaking Spanish and English.

“Algunas veces no puedo traducir [la frase] porque como estoy traduciendo de inglés a español me cuesta. Así que me…¿Cómo se dice? Stuck,”said Urtubia. (“Sometimes I can’t translate [the phrase] since it’s a bit hard for me to translate from English to Spanish. So I usually get…How do you say it? Stuck.”)

Sometimes, introducing English into Spanish discussions serves a functional purpose. Urtubia could not remember how to say “stuck” in Spanish, so she simply said it in English.

Other times, rather than mixing words here and there, people create entirely new ones by taking an English word and giving it a Spanish pronunciation. Words such as fensa (fence), troca (truck), breik (break), and lonche (lunch) are great examples.

Use of Spanglish has become widespread. “Even older people who don’t even speak English have adopted [the language],” said UCLA Spanish professor Luz Maria de la Torre.

To test this out, I printed several pages with images of the objects men- tioned above. I asked Spanish speakers to identify the images and many of my respondents proved Professor de la Torre right.

Ramón Rodríguez, a UCLA Housing and Hospitality Services employee who speaks mostly Spanish, identified an image of a parking lot as a“lote de parking.” However, the formal Spanish term would be lote de estacionamiento.

It is incredible to hear languages evolve. But why exactly are we converting our Spanish language to this Spanglish dialect?

“[Spanglish is] a strategic mechanism to enable the survival of that language,” said Professor De La Torre.

So the questions now are: Can Spanish survive in the US or will Spanglish become the language of the future? Should we keep our native languages or completely adapt to a new culture?

I personally think it is a good idea to know Spanish, English and Spang- lish in order to preserve our cultural background. Cuál es yours?

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Interning for a future

UCPD officer James Echols simulates arrest procedures on Daniel Oh, 17, a UCLA Community School student.

A police officer has a 17-year-old student under arrest, legs apart and hands behind his back. The officer slowly reaches to his belt for his handcuffs and locks them onto his wrists.

Do not be alarmed. Daniel Oh, an eleventh grade student at the UCLA Community School, is interning at the University of California Police Department (UCPD). Officer James Echols is using Oh to model the appropriate arrest protocol and procedures.

This is made possible through UCLA Community School internship program, which partners with different departments at UCLA to provide students with hands-on experience from people already established in a career field.

“I actually like that I have the chance to be in an internship at UCLA,” Oh said. “I get a real world experience while I’m in high school, I think that’ll be helpful.”

The goal of the internship is for the students to gain insight into careers that match their interests, while implementing classroom knowledge in real life situations.

“It is a unique program because it’s based at UCLA,” said Program Coordinator Jaime Del Razo, a fifth-year Ph.D. student at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. He added that the relationship between the internship program and this university helps them ensure their students are college ready upon graduation from the school.

While only in its first year, this program consists of four different sites at UCLA: UCPD, the Broadcasting Department, the Daily Bruin, and UC All Campus Consortium on Research for Diversity (UC/ACCORD), which is a research unit dedicated to examining educational inequalities in public education.

Eleventh grade student, Janeth Nunez, is interning at the Broadcasting Department and is making a documentary about the interns’ experiences in the program because she believes their role in pioneering this program is important.

“When I heard it was an internship at UCLA I thought wow, you don’t get an opportunity like this all the time, I have to take it if it’s going to teach me something,” said Nunez.

Students also build confidence and gain social skills. “It has taught me how to interact with people when you first meet them; at the beginning I was quiet but once I got comfortable I was able to talk to them,” Juan Carlos Mejia, an eleventh grade student said

Mejia, 18, is an intern with UC/ACCORD and is currently helping organize data for the California Educational Opportunity Report. In collaboration with UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA), UC/ACCORD publishes this yearly report to examine California students’ educational resources.

Mejia will develop his own similar project by asking fellow students questions about how they are being affected by the budgets cuts and how they feel their principal is helping them receive an education. Having gained much from this program he is happy to utilize his experiences to help others.

“I like it a lot, I’m starting to like talking with others about helping them, it feels good to tell someone else that needs help, to tell them the struggles you went through,” Mejia said.

The students in this program develop a sense of agency in their education by working on their own projects. The experience also encourages them to develop long-term career goals.

“Just the fact that it’s a new experience and I would have never imagined going to a site and working with professional people… I can’t wait till I’m up there too, said Nunez.”

downtownskyline

CicLAvía: Montando bicicleta en Los Angeles (en español)

A las 5:00 de la tarde, un lunes a finales Marzo de este año, Christine Ramirez, 55, fue arrollada por un carro cuando montaba su bicicleta cerca de su casa en Pasadena sufriendo fractura de dos costilla y lastimaduras en la mayor parte de su abdomen. “Yo estaba usando mi casco, esperé por la luz que cambiara a verde y miré a ambos lados antes de cruzar la intersección,” Ramirez dijo. Pero a pesar de todas sus precauciones, ella no tuvo tiempo de reaccionar al carro que iba a doblar derecha y no paró, lo cual la mantuvo en cama por dos semanas.

Afortunadamente, al menos por un día, Ramirez y todos los demás Angelinos no se tuvieron que preocupar de los peligros de los carros. El domingo 10 de Abril del 2011 Los Angeles tuvo la segunda CicLAvía, un evento de calles sin autos que le da a las personas una oportunidad de disfrutar de su ciudad desde el suelo en vez que desde sus carros. De 10:00 AM hasta las 3:00 PM las calles del centro de Los Angeles estuvieron cerradas a todo vehiculo motorizado y abiertas para bicicletas, triciclos, sillas de ruedas, o simplemente para caminar.

El defensor del ciclismo Bobby Gadda fue el primero que trajo el concepto de CicLAvía a Los Angeles en el 2008 después de una visita a Bogotá, Colombia donde más de 70 millas de calles están sin carro todos los domingos. El había notado cuan desagradables  son para las personas las calles de Los Angeles y fue inspirado inmediatamente por la ciclovía de 35 años en Bogotá. “Esto realmente cambió la cultura de la ciudad e hizo de ella un lugar más humano para vivir,” dijo Gadda.

Gadda recibió inmediatamente apoyo y colaboración de Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition y poco después del Alcalde Antonio Villaraigosa. El pasado mes de Octubre Los Angeles celebró la primera CicLAvía con 7.5 millas de calles libres de carros desde Boyle Heights hasta el este de Hollywood. Siguiendo la misma ruta, exactamente seis meses después, el segundo evento de CicLAvía fue aun mayor, con un estimado de 130,000 participantes de acuerdo a KCET, pero cada participante pudo personalizar su propia experiencia.

Ross Bernet, estudiante de cuarto año de Ciencia Ambiental en UCLA y Michelle Oyewole, estudiante de cuarto año de Comunicaciones, junto a otros 15 estudiantes más de UCLA, fueron en sus bicicletas a CicLAvía desde UCLA, un recorrido de 10 millas. Para Bernet, CicLAvía es invaluable por la seguridad en el espacio que esta provee. “La mayor parte del tiempo que uno está andando en bicicleta en Los Angeles, uno va solo. Hay muchos carros y eso se siente peligroso,” dijo Bernet. Oyewole aprecia el ambiente de comunidad que se percibe. “Es una oportunidad de ver Los Angeles como normalmente no la verías, con las calles libres de carros y todos andando en bicicleta juntos,” dijo Oyewole.

Para otros CicLAvía es un evento familiar. Para Martín Puerta, de 42 años, residente en Boyle Heights, padre de 4 hijos, de edades 14, 10, 6 y 2, CicLAvía le da a sus hijos la oportunidad de ver y aprender acerca de Los Angeles. “Aquí ellos tienen la proteccion de la Policia, quienes cierran las calles y no hay posibilidad de que sean lastimados,” dijo Puerta. Por lo menos hay una cosa de la que Puerta está seguro. “Todos tenemos el derecho a usar las calles para cualquier evento. No debemos continuar pensando que solo el carro tiene derecho a las calles,” él dijo.

Aunque el verdadero propósito de CicLAvía es disfrutarla, los participantes pudieron compartir muchas actividades a lo largo del recorrido en Abril, incluyendo visitar museos como el Japanese American National Museum y disfrutar de camiones de comidas como las de The Surfer Taco. Chivas USA tuvo un puesto para patear pelotas donde el co-capitán Major League Soccer All-Star y antiguo alumno de UCLA Jimmy Conrad estuvo, firmando autógrafos y conversando con fanáticos. También hubo presentaciones de bailes, juegos de pistolas de agua y antiguas rutas de bicicletas.

Lo que más se destacó en ambas CicLAvías fue el constante juego de dodgeball organizado por el World Dodgeball Society el cual proporcionó entretenimiento así como una forma para socializar con otros Angelinos. Agregándole que Lance Armstrong atendió a la CicLAvía y habló de los beneficios a la salud y al medio ambiente que proporciona el andar en bicicleta, mencionando como ésto promueve el ejercicio y reduce las emisiones de gas que tanto afectan la atmósfera.

La opinión general acerca de CicLAvía es clara. Los Angeles se ha enamorado y quiere más de esto.Ya hay planeados dos eventos más en 2011 y más para el 2012. Esto puede no parar ahí. Muchos, incluyendo a Gadda, tienen la esperanza de que CicLAvía se convierta en una forma de vida. En camino largo la meta de CicLAvía es crear una cadena de calles libres de carros através de Los Angeles, conectando fisicamente sus muchas compactas y diversas areas.

Los Angeles justamente debe obtener sus deseos. El Alcalde Villaraigosa, quien ha prometido dedicar 1680 millas de LA para camino de bicicletas, está detrás de ese esfuerzo 100%. “CicLAvía es una oportunidad,” dijo Villaraigosa. “En una ciudad adicta al automobil con un solo pasajero, nosotros debemos agarrar la bicicleta […] y reclamar nuestros barrios. Eso es lo que CicLAvía representa.”

PiG_Vegetables

Con Todo, Menos Carne

“Mija,” my mother said, “do you want to eat?”

“Yes, mother. But just to remind you, I’m vegetarian.”

“Let’s go to McDonalds! They have chicken nuggets and

you can eat it because it’s not red meat,” my sister said.

While my sister’s idea may seem like a reasonable Latino perspective, the reality is that a vegetarian avoids eating all kinds of meat. I surveyed 83 Latinos to see what they thought of vegetarianism and what a vegetarian diet consists of. Over a quarter of respondents identified seafood as an acceptable part of a vegetarian diet. Others thought vegetarians could eat red meat and chicken.

I became a vegetarian during the 40 days of Lent, meaning that my diet had no meat and no seafood. But I found that, despite the Lenten tradition of giving up meat on Fridays, this radical lifestyle is still foreign to many Latinos.

When deciding what we should have for the family dinner, my tío Ramón suggested ceviche, because it is a meal he thought everyone could share. Case in point.

One reason my uncle may have suggested seafood is that the meatless Lenten diet may include fish and seafood on Fridays. For many Latinos, the 40 days of Lent are the closest they have ever come to being vegetarian. Perhaps this is why my family cannot fully grasp the concept of vegetarianism.

Being vegetarian, is not part of the Latino cultural logic. Nearly 60 percent of Latinos I surveyed indicated that vegetarianism was not part of Latino culture.

I recently visited Carnitas Michoacan, a 24-hour Mexican restaurant in East Los Angeles, the heart of the Latino population in LA. I ordered a cheese quesadilla, mentioning to the cashier that I was vegetarian. She asked whether I wanted carne asada, carnitas, pollo, or chorizo.

I repeated that I am a vegetarian. She looked surprised. After I placed my order, I heard her yell to the cook. He responded, “¿Con qué tipo de carne?” (What type of meat?) She responded, “Sin nada.” (None.) The cook said, “¿De verdad? ¿Sin nada? ¿Cómo puede ser esto?” (Really? None? How can this be?)

My family members are clearly not the only ones who do not understand what it means to be vegetarian. My experience with vegetarianism shows me how little Latinos know about the vegetarian lifestyle.

It has now been over a month since I broke my Lenten vow of vegetarianism. But I found that I did not miss meat that much. Despite my family’s initial shock, they have come to a different understanding of vegetarianism.

If you were to give a title to the Latino diet what would it be? Email your response to lagente@media.ucla.edu

Con Amor,

La Boquisabrosa