MY OWN LATINA TEEN

By Abelardo de la Peña Jr., VP, Sr. Editor, Multicultural - Iconoculture

By 2015, one-third of the U.S. population age 19 and younger will be Latino (AdWeek.com 6.11.07). In other words, hard to ignore.And so is Alicia, my just-turned-16 daughter. She's been searching for what it means to be a teen — a journey that has taken her to episodes of Degrassi High and through many conversations with her older sisters and female cousins about her place in the family. Her attempts at being contemplative — closing her bedroom door, spending hours on AIM and MySpace, skipping familiar family functions, sitting silently on car rides — disconcerted me, to say the least.


So it was even more of a surprise when she sprung on us her birthday wishes. One: She's changing her name to Rio, after a story her mom told her about us walking the banks of a river and deciding to have another baby. Two: She'd like a tattoo of a pair of hands clutching a heart-shaped rock. Three: She wants my help in improving her Spanish, so that she can converse with her grandparents and sing the canciones (songs) that end our family fiesta nights. Daring to look within herself, Alicia…er, Rio, is finding her Cultural Corazón. It’s a rite of passage young Latinos are increasingly embarking on as they seek balance between their ancestral and mainstream identities. But about that tattoo…

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