Subway transit is one of the most important parts of the New York experience. At those tunnels under the earth, you can have a sense of the true spirit of the city and just looking, silently, we could imagine the thousands of stories that unfold in the capital of the world, New York.
It was a regular afternoon of the summer of 2006 and, as always, I was walking through the tunnel that leads from the F to the 1 train going to the Bronx. At that very moment I noticed my steps were moving encompassing an old melody… “Chiquitita you and I cry, but the sun is still in the sky and shinning above you…” Is the sound of a harmonic and I realize that I’m not the only one moving with the rhythm; I smile and think it’s just the universal language of music.
Behind that almost perfect moment is the reality of hundreds of artists that are improving the subway experience. They make of this ordinary moment a very particular one, which makes the visit of thousands of tourists a wonderful one and breaks a smile on any given newyorker despite how hard was the workday.
That’s how this article was born, which I previously published on the magazine I worked at the time, out of the curiosity for knowing what lays behind those melodies. Who are they and what they do when they are up there, at the street level.
I met Vicente Chuqui, an Ecuadorian who was living in the United States for about eight years and told me that part of his life is spend in the subway. Him, and other eight members are part of the group called Grupo Manantial that had recorded serveral CDs with varied music, including Andes rythms and versions of popular international songs that attract almost any audience.
For Chuqui, making music in the subway is only part of his day. Like many other Latino immigrants he works in construction or “any other gig that comes up, you know,” he said. “We are a group and I come with my partner when I don’t have other jobs. We usually are given a 3-hour permit and we take advantage to sell our CDs,” cloncluded Chuqui.
Another -tragicomic- event happens inside one train wagon. It’s peak time and many passengers are standing. All of the sudden, a man salutes with the notes of an old saxo. The out-of-tune sound make some look at him as ridiculous, even looking down with disdain.
However, this artist has his act well planned and not exactly to lose his audience. He played a bit more and yelled “I’m leaving, I’m going, but I’m taking Bush with me!” Faces change. Smiles and laughs loosen up the environment and the dollars start coming out of bags and wallets.
I also smile and think with sadness that this artist probably sleeps in the streets, or in the train wagons. His life is spend in the surroundings. There is nothing but this, his life is the subway.
Despite of his reality, he brings joy to the day of the passerbys and for them, he only represents this moment of entertainment within their fast-paced routine. They get off the train and go back to their frown.
“My Latina princess has cinnamon-colored skin, jet-black eyes, and has the Caribbean in her blood. My Latina princess has a fiery mixed-race black, white and Indian.”
Ana, from SpanglishBaby, invited bloggers to publish a picture of our very own Latina princess to give Disney a canvas with enough material to create a princess with which we can all identify.
I love the idea of demonstrating we are the product of many mixes and even within the same family we have all kinds of colors. To me, a collage like this would lead to the unavoidable conclusion, obvious to me, that we are way too diverse for them to only create ONE Latina princess.
Disney has the dilemma to represent a community as assorted as the planet itself. The logical thing to do in my opinion when the moment comes (and since it has taken them so long to do, I must highlight) is to create several princesses, about four, that can portrait the characteristics of the regions from which we come from: North, South, Center and Caribbean.
That’s what I think, and I believe is the reasonable thing to do. Not only because of the color of the skin, the race or the hair, but also because each region has a unique cultural richness and it’s important that is represented faithfully.
The components of a character go way beyond its race; is not coherent to think we can all be put in the same box and shape with the same mold. That’s what makes us so culturally rich: the variety and diversity that make the whole.
In the meantime, here I leave you with one of the Latina Princesses. This is AbiCool, mi #PrincesaLatina.
As I told you on Monday, I am so happy to have a sponsor to attend the LATISM’ 12 Conference that will be held next Thursday in Houston Texas. My excitement could not be bigger to have been confirmed by Hasbro that they’ll be my sponsors, because as you can imagine, they are the makers of many of the toys the NiñosCool have at home.
Hasbro will have a booth during the conference and are giving their support as sponsors of LATISM’ 12 as an expression of their commitment to the Hispanic community in the United States. I’m happy to be able to go to the booth and check out the new toys, plus getting to know some of the brand’s representatives in person.
Like many of you who are moms, I have already started to create my gift list for the holiday season. I believe that the best is to plan ahead and keep the spending on a budget and the children happy. Hasbro for this season is bringing three new products that for sure will get attention from children and adults alike.
What’s new from Hasbro for the holiday season
The first thing is the Baby Alive doll that girls love; my AbiCool always plays with her and pretends to be the mom. For this fall there are three new very special dolls from the Baby Alive line: Baby Wanna Walk, Sips ‘N Tinkles Princess and Baby All Gone. I have the Baby All Gone on my list because it helps to create good eating habits and plus it’s bilingual! I recommend you visit the site for Baby Alive so you can check out these lovely dolls.
Other than the dolls, Hasbro is bringing an awesome pack from Play-Doh that all ages will enjoy and has enough compounds to make up to 50 gumballs. The doh is so versatile and can be enjoyed at any age. Check the Play-Doh Candy Cyclone and for sure you’ll have someone in mind who will love that gift.
For the little ones that like to be the gourmet of the house, Sesame Street brings a kitchen from the Cookie Monster: The Cookie Monster Kitchen Café Playset. My nephew for sure will love this gift since he is always experimenting in the kitchen and has mention he wants to be a chef at the young age of five.
I want to thank Hasbro for the sponsorship, because this gives me the opportunity to learn and get training that would not be possible otherwise.
Thanks a lot, see you in Houston!
Disclosure clarification: Hasbro is my sponsor to attend the LATISM 12 Conference. The opinions expressed before are mine and were not edited by third parties. I only recommend products or services in which I believe and consider appropriate for children and families. I am making this disclosure clarification in accordance with article 16 CFR, part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” of the Federal Trade Commissions.
Coming from a country of emigrants like the Dominican Republic, I am very familiar to the experiences of Latin Americans, and more specifically Caribbean people, have in different parts of the world. The life of the emigrant has always challenges and by listening to so many stories, some of them current, of the treatment that those who go searching for better conditions outside their places of origin I have no doubt that in the United States immigrant have a voice, rights and have moved forward in many aspects.
However, we are far from the ideal that cemented the basis of this country. Today, that we are celebrating the American Independence I decided to share this poem that once represented the spirit and ideals of this land as a reminder for all of those who live in it. After all, we are celebrating and a bit of wishful thinking seem just right.
Happy Independence Day America!
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Emma Lasarus ~ 1882
This poem, by Emma Lazarus is graven on the tablet the Statue of Liberty is holding on her left hand. If you want to read my translation of the poem, go here to my Spanish site.
The poem, which Lazarus wrote in 1882 in celebration of the construction of the Statue of Liberty, has become the ultimate expression of America’s self-image as a welcoming “nation of immigrants.” Through her poem, Lazarus transformed the Statue of Liberty—built by the French to commemorate shared Franco-American ideals of democracy—into a beacon of hope for foreigners seeking a better life in the United States.
Emma Lazarus was an American poet born on July 22, 1849 in New York City and died on November 19, 1887. From an early age, she studied American and British literature, as well as several languages, including German, French, and Italian. Her writings attracted the attention of Ralph Waldo Emerson.