Culture

Latinos Have Mixed Feelings About America’s Obsession With Pumpkins

All you have to do is open your eyes to witness America’s obsession with pumpkins and flavored food, drinks and even overpriced candles at the start of fall. Even if it’s 90 degrees out and you’re on Miami Beach, someone is drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Trader Joe’s is selling pumpkin flavored dog treats, pumpkin spiced pancake mix, pumpkin filled pop tarts, pumpkin flavored oatmeal. I could go on.

Americans love pumpkin. But what about us Latinx-Americans? Trust, I am already reconsidering how that stereotype is exclusionary when Latinos (and everyone for that matter) should be able to participate and be reflected in mainstream American culture. Perdóname.

Pumpkins in America: A History Beginning with Starbucks

@TheRealPSL / Twitter

It all started 15 years ago when Starbucks started developing the pumpkin spice flavor after seeing the flavor soar in consumer tests. Apparently, after fiddling with the recipe, they decided to not include pumpkin at all. This sparked the beginning of pumpkin spice product tidal wave in the market.

Starbucks has sold over 200 million PSL’s since it’s first release.

@TheRealPSL / Twitter

And, apparently, created a Twitter account for Pumpkin Spice Latte. It has over 110k followers. ????

Latinos be like, “can I have the squash coffee?”

@_trstz3 / Twitter

Pumpkins have no seasonal significance with us. We put squash in so many of our dishes year round, that we don’t get the obsession over a gourd.

In a way, the following statement feels like a restatement of our Latinidad.

@BaddieQue1 / Twitter

Anyone who is firmly against PSL’s or any other pumpkin spiced product is stubbornly proud that they aren’t participating in the trend. It makes you wonder: have they even tried it though?

Yes. We are willing to give PSL’s a try. Still, no.

@ASalas99

We’re used to our coffee tasting like coffee, not sugar syrup. That’s my theory for the anti-PSL community.

More proof that we’re open-minded people:

@marelyvs / Twitter

Even international visitors have given the PSL’s a shot and it’s just a solid, no gracias. I mean, context is everything. Don’t expect a PSL to give you energy.

We just have so many questions for you, pumpkin loving Americans.

@ArianaPlayzz / Twitter

I mean, it makes sense. Pumpkins are native to North America, especially in Canada and the United States. They’re planted in the summer and are ready to be carved and eaten right around October. 🙂

Because so many of us grew up with out top priority being keeping the house clean.

@nekuhlx / Twitter

Personally, my mom is a crafty mother. She entered pumpkin decorating contests annually, and put false eyelashes on every lady pumpkin she ever carved.

So we haven’t had that bonding, sensory overload memory of carving pumpkins.

@natalssofia / Twitter

The memories of doing something as scandalously messy y ‘peligroso’ as carving pumpkins stands out as a fun time. Goopy pumpkin seeds, silly faces, and toasted pumpkin seeds for days.

And some of us are afraid it’ll make us less Latino.

@ArashKaji / Twitter

I assure you, there is no food you could eat that will destroy the fuerza that is Latinx blood running through your veins.

The culture divide is so strong, it’s got trolls calling Latinxs “white latina”s.

@ouijass1 / Twitter

Did I or did I not say that this is a hot button issue in Latino America right now? Por favor, don’t let PSL’s tear us apart.

Pues, no te preocupes. You’ll always be Latino.

@EugeOrdaz / Twitter

Smell that candle. Try that pumpkin pasta sauce. Whateva. You’ll always be Latinx, and there will always be Latinxs that have your back.

Plot twist: there are those of us who lo amos.

@manicpxiedrmgrl / Twitter

Newsflash, if you’re a Latino living in the USA, támbien somos Americanos. So many of us grew up with our friends *needing* a PSL, especially given that the hype started happening right around high school.

So much so that @TheRealPSL will actually retweet this Hallmark statement.

@yeseniawittman / Twitter

There is something irrevocably comforting about the PSL, but only if you’ve spent the last ten years drinking it. As teenagers, it was basically just spicy sugar water, but it reminds us of cooler weather, Halloween and all the holiday foods.

Because let’s face it. We’re Latino and it’s made of coffee.

@CMGuille

There is something that is so Latino about drinking coffee. It connects us to our ancestors and puts us in the right mood for the rest of the day.

It might not be gourmet, but it is still delicious all the same..

@que_ugly / Twitter

But, again, we’re in it for the feels. Starbucks has incepted us. It barely even matters what it tastes like anymore. We’re paying for the emotions.

Ok, I mean, some people actually like the flavor.

@alyoovm / Twitter

But I would like to see a study on the psychological effects of the PSL on our brains. Why is it so good for some of us and so gross for others?

So much so they’ll marry you for your PSL delivery.

@HelenaVBeta / Twitter

Remember that I said it here first. Americans like pumpkin spice, but they love the feeling it gives them just once a year. If you could marry it, it may even lose its appeal.

It’s not even about the Starbucks brand.

@paulaGlezC / Twitter

Caption: “Me había sobrado un poco de calabaza y quería probar lo del pumpkin spice latte este casero. Ahora toda mi cocina huele a clavo, canela, jengibre, dátiles y café y soy un poco más feliz. ”

Most of us just live in the gray, como todo.

@vamp_akire / Twitter

For those of us who like pumpkin, it’s because it’s so closely associated with autumn feels of Día de los Muertos, dressing up like J-Lo for Halloween as a kid, and eating more arroz con leche than you can handle. Dash some pumpkin spice on that café if you want.


READ: It’s That Time Of Year Again. Are You A Basic PSL Or A Decadent Cafe De Olla? Take The Quiz And Find Out

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America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

Entertainment

America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

It has been 20 years since America Ferrera’s dream of becoming an actor back true. She took to Instagram to reflect on the moment that her dream started to come true and it is a sweet reminder that anyone can chase their dreams.

America Ferrera shared a sweet post reflecting on the 20th anniversary of working on “Gotta Kick It Up!”

“Gotta Kick It Up!” was one of the earliest examples of Latino representation so many of us remember. The movie follows a school dance team trying to be the very best they could possibly be. The team was down on their luck but a new teacher introduces them to a different kind of music to get them going again.

After being introduced to Latin beats, the dance team is renewed. It taps into a cultural moment for the Latinas on the team and the authenticity of the music makes their performances some of the best.

While the movie meant so much to Latino children seeing their culture represented for the first time, the work was a major moment for Ferrera. In the Instagram post, she gushes over the celebrities she saw on the lot she was working on. Of course, anyone would be excited to see Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt hanging out. Yet, what stands out the most is Ferrera’s own excitement to realize that she can make money doing what she loves most.

“I wish I could go back and tell this little baby America that the next 20 years of her life will be filled with unbelievable opportunity to express her talent and plenty of challenges that will allow her to grow into a person, actress, producer, director, activist that she is very proud and grateful to be. We did it baby girl. I’m proud of us,” Ferrera reflects.

Watch the trailer for “Gotta Kick It Up!” here.

READ: America Ferrera’s “Superstore” Is Going To Get A Spanish-Language Adaptation In A Win For Inclusion

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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