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🙋🏽👨🏻👱🏾👩🏾👱🏻♀️The Latinx Collective - Issue 41: the "four times better" edition
THIS WEEK'S SIX:
Many bicultural kids often undergo a journey to understand their complicated identities. That includes Miguel Jontel Pimentel, the American singer and songwriter born to Mexican and Black parents in California, who was raised between Inglewood and San Pedro in LA. Like so many Blaxican kids from South Los Angeles, he grew up between cultures and identities: two homes, two languages, two realities. “A lot of my knowledge of Spanish comes from speaking Spanish with my grandparents and my aunts and my tíos and my tías in Inglewood over the summers, and when I visited my father’s side of the family,” he shares. He regrets not being able to practice his Spanish in between these visits, a consequence of existing as a child of divorce. In the beginning of his music career, Miguel says industry bigwigs and label heads struggled to understand the intersection of blackness and Latinidad, questioning his name and appearance. It’s a reality that plenty of black Latino pop stars have had to contend with in a system that renders complex identities into monolithic and palatable packages. At the end of the day, Miguel says his focus has always been about creating art that makes him feel whole.
No. 21 is sacred in baseball, particularly to Puerto Ricans, because it was the longtime number of Roberto Clemente, the iconic player who hailed from the island. Of the 235 Puerto Rico-born players who have appeared in the major leagues since Clemente’s death 47 years ago, only 16 have used No. 21 — and none in the past five seasons. In the four decades since Clemente’s death, there has been no shortage of movements, campaigns and petitions to retire No. 21. The argument is particularly strong now, as the percentage of Latino players has swelled to nearly 30 percent in the major leagues, and it is even higher in the minor leagues.
“No Puerto Ricans will use the number because of Roberto Clemente,” Carlos Correa, 24, the Puerto Rican superstar shortstop of the Houston Astros who uses No. 1, said in Spanish. “The way I see it: Roberto Clemente is a figure for Latinos just like Jackie Robinson was for African-Americans. Clemente didn’t just break barriers but inspired other Latinos to get into baseball.”
Sam Pulido is a freshman at American University. She shares an essay about a DNA test she took in high school as she went on a journey to explore her mixed-race identity. As a Cuban-American, the child of a white American mother and a Cuban father, she always selected both the white and Hispanic race options, or the Hispanic option but not “white (non-Hispanic)” whenever asked. Although throughout her life she'd acknowledged differences between these two races based on familial relations, it did not occur to her until then that she was biracial.
Puerto Rican chef Roberto Pérez is the founder of Urban Pilón, a culinary business that offers catering, private dinners, and cooking classes. The main goals of his classes are to teach people how to make Puerto Rican food with fresher, more natural ingredients while also expanding their ideas about what Puerto Rican food can be. If you're in Chicago, check them out here.
Pérez sees the classes as a tool for upending predominating stereotypes of Puerto Rican food. He says his classes actively work to “break that stigma about our food being simple or being unhealthy or being the same 10 f**king dishes over and over again. The educational part is so important. Pérez believes the lack of cooking classes that teach people how to make Puerto Rican food without relying on the same old recipes that call for processed, packaged ingredients as a serious void. A void he is trying to fill.
If there’s a common ingredient in Leguizamo’s achievements, it’s his drive and a refusal to take “no” for an answer. And this, as it turns out, forms the thematic core of the Pepsi commercial that aired last Thursday night during the Billboard Latin Music Awards. Go watch the ad here.
“You know, I’m an overachiever,” Leguizamo told Adweek on a call Thursday afternoon. If you’re a Latino, he added, “you have to be four times better than the next guy to make it—it’s just a fact of life.” The 60-second Pepsi spot shows Leguizamo, seriously late for a curtain call, dashing across Mexico City to get to the theater. He bolts from his hotel bed, dashes down an escalator and even commandeers a pedicab to reach the stage door just in time.
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