Culture

The City Of Phoenix Is Moving Forward With Plans To Open A Latino Cultural Center

After 17 years of hitting roadblocks and issues with location, Phoenix, Arizona looks like it will finally have its own Latino cultural center. This month, the Phoenix City Council took action on the issue and voted in favor of moving forward with the project that was originally approved for $1.4 million in bond funding by Phoenix voters in 2001. The location of the cultural center is tentatively planned to be at the North Building at Margaret T. Hance Park, near downtown Phoenix. 

While the city is moving forward with plans, there is still disagreement with some about the location of the cultural center and fulfilling the rest of the funding needs. According to the Phoenix New Times, “Organizers would need to raise sufficient funds for North Building renovations by the end of 2023. Current estimates put renovation costs at about $12 million.”

While there is a growing need for a space that represents and shows the visibility of Latinos in Phoenix, the city still has questions about whether this location will fit those needs. 

Phoenix has one of the fastest-growing Latino populations in the country and is expected to surpass 50 percent of the Arizona population by 2020. With a growing demographic, the Latino Cultural Center hopes to be a space that Latino artists can showcase the diversity and impact the population has had in America’s Southwest region. When it comes to programming,  the center would also have an “annual cultural festival” and a “community kitchen,” among other projects. But to accomplish this goal, the city has to fully support and agree on a location that meets these needs. 

As part of a study that was commissioned by the city of Phoenix, it recommends that the Latino Cultural Center be a “visible” presence in downtown Phoenix as well as being “on par and in company” with other nearby art and culture centers. 

City Councilman Carlos Garcia says that the location of this project is a huge roadblock to overcome since the currently proposed location lacks significance when it comes to the Latino community. 

“The Hance location kind of doesn’t allow us to grow from there. And it also doesn’t hold cultural significance, specifically to the Latino/Chicano from Phoenix,” Garcia said at the recent meeting concerning the center. “I had an artist call me about it and say, ‘Our communities were redlined and were not allowed north of whatever-Van Buren or the tracks-and so how can we set something up like where our communities weren’t even allowed.”

Despite some disagreements, Phoenix is ready to move forward with the project that it hopes it can get started on in the next few years. 

While there are still some questions about the location of the center, Councilwoman Thelda Williams said that this month’s vote was the most progress the project has made in becoming a reality. She said that only stalling the project even longer might hurt its long term viability. 

“For 17 years, we’ve been pursuing this,” Williams told AZ Central. “I know not everyone is happy with this building, but as you stated, doing this review and analysis of the building is truly going to be suitable. I wanted us to keep moving forward.”

As of now, there is $997,902 in available bond funding towards the center which means that the city would have to start a capital funding campaign to meet the financial needs for the project. This is where the city would need more people on board with the project if it is to keep moving forward, most importantly the support of the local Latino community which has voiced it has felt left out of the planning process. 

“It’s been in the works for so long that now everyone is disenfranchised,” Latina choreographer Liliana Gomez told Phoenix New Times. “People are feeling a little bit voiceless. If the center happens, I’ll be supportive. In the meantime, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing.”

While the Hance Park location isn’t definitive, the city council has left it’s options open if another location or large sum donation is given to build the center somewhere else. Nonetheless, Phoenix is making progress on a project that has been years long overdue and is something that Latinos rightfully deserve. Councilmember Laura Pastor voiced this message at the city meeting and echoed the sentiment many have felt about the cultural center finally moving forward. 

“The city of Phoenix’s Latino arts and culture community is rich, vibrant and ever-evolving. This center will be a home for more than just art. It will encompass storytelling, cultural foods, music, programs, and festivals. Today’s vote is a vital step in the 18-year process to provide our City with the long-overdue Latino Cultural Center it deserves.”

READ: The Sexual Assault Charges Against An Illinois Principal Highlights One Of The Biggest Problems In Our Education System

Does Anybody Really Know What’s Supposed To Happen After You Get The Baby Jesus Figurine In La Rosca De Reyes?

Culture

Does Anybody Really Know What’s Supposed To Happen After You Get The Baby Jesus Figurine In La Rosca De Reyes?

alejandro.munoz.p / Instagram

Remember Día de Reyes when everyone cuts the rosca and hopes to god not to get the little niño Jesus? If you grew up Mexican, you probably know that whoever gets the baby Jesus figurine owes everyone tamales. But when is the tamal party? And most importantly—why? Keep reading to find out what El Día de la Candelaria means, what your abuelitas and tías are actually celebrating and how it originated —spoiler alert: it’s colonization.

February 2nd may be Groundhog Day in the United States, but in Mexico, and for many Latinos outside of Mexico, there is a completely different celebration on this date.

The religious holiday is known as Día de la Candelaria (or Candlemas in English). And on this day of the year, people get together with family and friends to eat tamales, as a continuation of the festivities of Three Kings’ Day on January 6. 

This is why your abuelita dresses up her niño Jesús in extravagant outfits.

For Día de la Candelaria it’s customary for celebrants to dress up figures of the Christ Child in special outfits and take them to the church to be blessed. Día de la Candelaria is traditionally a religious and family celebration, but in some places, such as Tlacotalpan, in the state of Veracruz, it is a major fiesta with fairs and parades.

February 2nd is exactly forty days after Christmas and is celebrated by the Catholic church as the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin.

Alternatively, this day also counts as the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. The origin of this religious feast day comes from ancient Jewish tradition. According to Jewish law, a woman was considered unclean for 40 days after giving birth, and it was customary to bring a baby to the temple after that period of time had passed. So the idea is that Mary and Joseph would have taken Jesus to the temple to be blessed on February second, forty days after his birth on December 25.

The tradition goes back to around the 11th Century in Europe.

People typically took candles to the church to be blessed as part of the celebration. This tradition was based on the biblical passage of Luke 2:22-39 which recounts how when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple, a particularly devout man named Simeon embraced the child and prayed the Canticle of Simeon: “Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; Because my eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” The reference to the light inspired the celebration of the blessing of the candles.

In Mexico Día de la Candelaria is a follow-up to the festivities of Three Kings Day on January 6th.

On Día De Reyes, when children receive gifts, families and friends gather together to eat Rosca de Reyes, a special sweet bread with figurines of a baby (representing the Child Jesus) hidden inside. The person (or people) who received the figurines on Three Kings Day are supposed to host the party on Candlemas Day. Tamales are the food of choice.

This tradition also carries Pre-Hispanic roots.

After the Spanish conquistadors introduced the Catholic religion and masked indigenous traditions with their own, to help spread evangelization, many villagers picked up the tradition of taking their corn to the church in order to get their crops blessed after planting their seeds for the new agricultural cycle that was starting. They did this on February 2, which was the eleventh day of the first month on the Aztec calendar —which coincidentally fell on the same day as the Candelaria celebration. It’s believed that this is why, to this day, the celebratory feast on February 2 is all corn-based —atole and tamales.

This date is special for other reasons too… 

February 2, marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, which aligns with the pagan holiday of Imbolc. Since ancient times, this date was thought to be a marker or predictor of the weather to come, which is why it is also celebrated as Groundhog Day in the United States. There was an old English saying that went “if Candlemas be fair and bright, Winter has another flight. If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Winter will not come again.” In many places, this is traditionally seen as the best time to prepare the earth for spring planting.

In Perú the Fiesta de la Candelaria is a festival in honor of the Virgin of Candelaria, patron saint of the city of Puno and it is one of the biggest festivals of culture, music, and dancing in the country.

The huge festival brings together the Catholic faith and Andean religion in homage to the Virgin of Candelaria. The Virgin represents fertility and purity. She is the patron saint of the city and is strongly associated with the Andean deity of ‘Pachamama’ (‘mother earth’). It is this common factor of both religions that brings them together for the festival. In 2014, UNESCO declared the festival an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The main dates of ‘Fiesta de la Candelaria’ are February 2nd – 12th.

A Woman Threw A Lowrider-Themed Party For Her Son’s First Birthday And It’s Just Too Much For Our Hearts

Culture

A Woman Threw A Lowrider-Themed Party For Her Son’s First Birthday And It’s Just Too Much For Our Hearts

When it comes to maintaining and seeing our Latinidad flourish, instilling a sense of pride, excitement, and curiosity in our younger generations is key. Particularly when it comes to the past. One Twitter user’s recent birthday celebrations for her son, emphasized just how much teaching the old to the new is vital.

Way back before Twitter user @whoissd’s son Silas Cash C turned 1 year old, living in Southern California crafted a car style called “lowrider” that expressed pride in their culture and presence in the states. While the brightly painted, lowriding automobiles that were outfitted with special hydraulics that made them bounce up and down saw a peak in the 1970s, they remain a big part of Chicano culture, particularly in Los Angeles.

@whoissd’s son Silas is proving that he’ll be part of a generation that will not let the culture die out recently when he celebrated his first full year with a theme that was little more unique and closer to his family’s hearts.

For her son, Silas Cash’s, first birthday, SD threw an authentic lowrider party — complete with the recognizable cruisers in attendance.

Twitter / @whoissd

On July 27, SD shared pics of the big event with her Twitter followers. The post showed baby Silas Cash cruising in his own pint-sized orange lowrider. The party came complete with several lowriders and classic cars in attendance for party-goers to check out. Since posting the adorable pics on Twitter, the message has received more than 22.5k retweets and over 138k likes.

According to SD, Silas Cash developed a fascination with lowriders because of his dad. In an email to REMEZCLA, the mom explained the connection.

“[My son’s dad] started restoring two cars to continue a bond that he had shared with his own father throughout his childhood and it’s now something that the has been introduced to our son. The lowrider culture represents family, unity, and respect to us. It really is a beautiful thing.”

The one-year old’s mini lowrider had to be specially made in Japan just for his birthday party.

Twitter / @whoissd

Silas Cash’s mom explained the decision to have the tiny lowrider made for her kiddo.

“We originally thought about getting Silas his own lowrider because of the immediate attraction he has to his dad’s Impala. With enough searching, we were able to find someone who custom makes remote-controlled pedal cars, and we were sold… Silas and his dad have matching orange ’63 Impalas with the same candy paint hardtops to match.”

Twitter was quick to react to the simply adorable party and they couldn’t stop gushing over it.

Twitter / @cali_kalypso

As this tweet points out, this party is so authentically LA. Lowrider culture started in the streets of California in the mid-to-late 1940s and the post-war ’50s. Chicano youth would lower their car’s blocks, cut spring coils and alter auto frames in order to get the lowest and slowest ride possible. Back then, this was an act of rebellion against the Anglo authorities who suppressed Mexican-American culture.

This Snoop Dog meme says it all.

Twitter / @marissaa_cruzz

We’ve seen this meme make its rounds on the internet our fair share of times but this time it 100% applies. These pics of Baby Silas Cash and his mama are some of the cutest we’ve ever seen. The added bonus of the mini Impala makes this post almost too cute to handle.

A reminder that this little man is officially the coolest kid on the block.

Twitter / @devyn_the_lame

We can just see Baby Silas Cash pulling up to the playground in this custom low rider peddle cart and being the envy of all the other rugrats. There’s no doubt that he is the most chill kiddo at daycare.

*”Lowrider” plays in the distance*

Twitter / @JGar1105

We’re getting major “The George Lopez Show” flashbacks with all this lowrider talk. Don’t you think Silas Cash needs his own theme song? Obviously, there’s only one that is cool enough for the littlest lowrider.

Other tweets pointed out that it takes a fiercely cool mom to pull off this sort of party.

Twitter / @ismokemaryjuana

We’ve got to respect SD’s mom game. She really took her vision and went for it, resulting in a fun, unique and memorable party that her guests will never forget. Great job, mom; we hope Silas Cash grows up to realize how awesome his parents are.