Friday, September 12, 2008

Alma Awards Create Emotional Upheaval

So I just finished watching the Alma Awards.

Am I the only one who was clapping and cheering most of the way through? (aside from my kids - who didn't have a clue who they were clapping and cheering for!) I doubt it. I mean seriously, I was impressed by Shakira (more about her later,) ecstatic for Jorge (GO LOST!!!) and crying during Linda Ronstadt's tribute. Man! Those songs bring back a LOT of memories, Amigas! The whole thing made me so terribly, terribly homesick for TX and Latino culture. Especially when mariachis were up there singing one from "Canciones de Mi Padre." Boo-hooo! - pasa me un Kleenex, por favor!!

How many of you out there are like me - removed from your hometown, separated from your familia and cultura? Struggling to pass on your native language, family traditions and favorite memories and to your children? I am a fourth generation Hispanic American. And as we all know, the Spanish language often disappears by the third, second (or sadly even the first) generation. I was fortunate to have spent most of my childhood with my great-grandmother, who spoke very little English. Yet, while I understand it perfectly, having spent the last 20 (more or less) years in mostly white neighborhoods and private schools, college and career choice, my ability to speak it fluidly has been severely hampered. After spending some time talking with amigas or familia, or when traveling to Spanish-speaking countries, my Spanish improves dramatically. But I'm a bit rusty from lack of practice. So with all this said, I was really glad to see Jessica Alba up presenting an award. She has gotten a lot of flack for not having learned Spanish as a kid (parents' fault!), but does not speaking the language make you any less Latino? If you were born in Italy to Italian parents, but didn't speak Italian, would you then not be one either? Bah! Let me make it clear here: all parents should do all that they can to encourage their children to learn a second language. The benefits are astronomical. But just because a person might not understand or speak a native language (in this instance Spanish) does not make them any less a Latino/a. And we shouldn't be made to feel ashamed or embarassed.

So back to the topic at hand - I was awash in tears and sentimental longing after many of these presentations.

But then, of course, I was giggling through Cheech and Chong's brief reunion. Did he really say they were going to go on tour? And I just finished reviewing one of Cheech Marin's children's books for the Latin Baby Book Club. I have to say, that I'm beginning to like him more and more the older I get.

And I was so excited I almost fainted when they announced Sergio Mendez for the final act. But, to be honest, the Brazil '66 version of "Mas Que Nada" was much, much better, if you ask me. (no, I am not fluent in Portuguese, though I do know a fair amount of French!)

Right, enough of my rambling and soapbox rants.

At any rate, if you missed it, these were just a few of the highlights from the show. If you want to see who all was nominated and for what, as well as who won, visit the Alma Awards website here.

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