If you have a sister, you know it can be the absolute best thing in the world (and maybe the most frustrating). And let’s be honest: While sisters in general are amazing, Latina sisters are on a whole other level.
Here are 10 things Latina sisters will understand:
1. You’re called “linda”by abuelo and abuela no matter what.
Credit: Disney Channel
While it may seem like a compliment, since we know you’re definitely beautiful (duh), let’s call this exactly what it is: Your grandparents have too many nietas to bother remembering you and your sister’s names at all times.
This is maybe the best part about being Latina sisters. When all your basic friends are turning you into the eye-roll emoji, you can just slip into Spanish and vent without them knowing. Basically, it’s a genius plan and you’re welcome. (Works well with strangers, too!)
4. You can make fun of your mom for getting too invested in her telenovela.
And then when mom goes to bed, you can cry in each other’s arms while watching that same telenovela because OH MY GOD, IT’S SO GOOD.
5. Everything always ends in yelling (even if you aren’t fighting).
Not trying to play into the angry Latina stereotypes here because UGH, but you and your sister can’t help but raise your voices at one another. It’s your love language so everyone needs to DEAL WITH IT.
6. It’s absolutely impossible to keep secrets from one another.
It’s the curse of having a Latina sister. Forget trying to keep a secret from each other, you’re terrible at it! The more you try to hide something, the harder it gets. You’ve learned that no matter what, you’re sister is going to know what’s up and you just need to embrace it.
7. You have someone to back you up when your mom grills you about your significant other.
Thank god you have someone to vouch for you… even if your sister was the one who told your mom you were dating someone in the first place.
8. You have someone to binge watch Jane The Virgin with.
You constantly bond over how it’s a show that gets Latino culture right, and your white friends just don’t understand why you’re so incredibly obsessed with it. You and your sister are TV bingers for life.
My mother was six when she fled to the United States from Cuba with my abuela and her two siblings. After reuniting with my abuelo who fought against Fidel Castro in the Bay of Pigs War, they moved to Chicago, where they built a life for themselves completely from scratch, still gripping tenderly onto the heritage and cultures that connected them to families and friends back at home. In their efforts to keep and sustain our family’s Cuban heritage, my abuelos and my mother taught me and my siblings to love and cherish the many different and beautiful contributions that their island country has given to the world: cuisine, cafecito, Bacardí, music, and José Marti.
Naturally, as any proud Cuban-American, I have benevolently held onto all of these as my own personal tokens from an island I have never visited or known. I’m quick to boast about each of them as if they were conjured up by my own mother’s hard work in the kitchen. Still, none have Cuba’s treasures have made me feel quite so intimately linked to my family’s first home like the beloved Cuban song “Guantanamera.”
Like my abuelos and my mother’s stories of Cuba, “Guantanamera” is a song that has grown and adapted through its journey. I have heard the story of my abuelos’ wedding day more than a hundred times; the tale of how my mother cried when kids at her school called my abuelo —a Bay of Pigs prisoner who singlehandedly saved hundreds of lives after being captured by Castro — a criminal; the account of my abuela wringing her hands as she debated enrolling her children in Operation Peter Pan and how she later boarded a cargo ship holding onto only her children and memories of her life to meet my abuelo in the United States. Each anecdote is the same but is always slightly altered in some way depending on the storyteller’s mood and time that I plead for their retelling. Some days they’re drawn out, told with prideful smiles, but often they’re said quickly with an ache to forget the portal of bittersweet memories my questions have sent them through. So similarly goes the many different versions of “Guantanamera.”
It is widely accepted that the original lyrics of the song, considered to be Cuba’s unofficial anthem, were romantic in nature, but over time, the song has been interpreted as a political ode. Brought from the rural regions of the island and to airwaves by Cuban radio host Joseíto Fernández in the 1920s, the song quickly caught on among fans. Fernández performed it regularly on his show and, in the tradition of most folk music, improvised and changed verses based on the week’s events. Some days he sang about politics, and other days he purred lyrics that harped about azucar and its rising costs. Still, the song’s opening lines and chorus, “Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera / Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera,” always remained the same.
Cuban composer Julián Orbón adapted the “official” lyrics to the song using verses from Cuban freedom fighter José Martí’s poetry collection “Versos Sencillos.” Orbón’s version, the one most commonly recorded by music artists, used Marti’s lines about a “sincere man” who was from “where the palm trees grow (Yo soy un hombre sincero/ De donde crece la palma).“
This adaptation, combined with other lyrics from Martí’s poems that express compassion for Cuba’s poor, is ultimately what turned “Guantanamera” into the country’s most recognized patriotic anthem. In the U.S. and internationally, the song has been interpreted and adopted as a rally for peace (in 2004, for instance, the Swedish government flipped it into an offbeat rap song to promote recycling) and performed by a wide range of artists. In 1966, the Sandpipers did a version that became an international hit, and in the years that followed, singers like Jimmy Buffett, Pitbull and even the Fugees recorded their own editions. My personal favorite is the one sung by Cuban-born singer Celía Cruz on her album “Bravo” in 1967.
My Spanish has never quite allowed me to communicate with my abuelo in his native language fluently, but “Guantanamera” has let me do so.
Most conversations with my abuelo come with a melding of his so-so English and my mediocre Spanish. Together, we’re able to find a common ground that allows us to make each other laugh, exchange “te quiero mucho muchos” and grants me the ability to learn about the family and life he was forced to leave behind. In worse case scenarios, my abuela, a retired Spanish teacher, or my mother will intervene to translate. But when it comes to “Guantanamera,” abuelo and I have never needed assistance. Together, we’ve sung the song, our separately known variants, not always familiar with the lines each other sings but always well aware that in those moments they fill us with a deep love for each other and the versions of Cuba we both know.
Recently, during a visit with my abuelos, we sat together in their snug living room listening to Celía Cruz’s illustrious take of “Guantanamera” as her throaty voice sang over flute trills and drums. Old pictures of primos and tias looked down at us from the walls as we first listened carefully to the lyrics.
There’s no knowing what will prompt one of the Cubans in my family to break out into song. My most playful tía will chorus a line to tell stories; my brother does it at the dinner table even though he knows he’ll be told it’s rude, and my mother does it when she wants you to be in a better mood. Like them, my abuelos and I couldn’t help ourselves as Celía’s lively low-range voice started the chorus. Not against the charms of “Guantanamera.” Soon enough, abuela, abuelo and I were all singing the different Spanish versions of the song we hold dear.
Truthfully, if ever there was a moment that I thought I could burst from feeling so whole, it was sitting there in their living room, watching as the burden of my abuelo’s struggles of exile, always easy to decipher in his quietly distracted stares, seemed almost completely forgotten as he sang with pure delight.
“Guantanamera” is a song that has had a rhythmic presence in my life for as long as I can remember.
Like the smell of aftershave on my abuelo’s worn blue guayabera and the cheekiness of my abuela’s wily grin, I could make out that song anywhere, even despite the many versions it holds. Including the one I’ve heard my abuelo hum while brushing his teeth and the one my mother tries to keep in tune to while singing along to Cruz as she drives in the car. Like the different impressions of the song, Cuba is a country that has been strongly woven into our different narratives. Still, while my relationship and experience with Cuba will never tug on the strings of my heart with the same pang as it does on my abuelos or my mother, “Guantanamera” reminds me that the island is much more of a home than a foreign place that my family’s exile might try to make me believe.
Few films have gotten the honor of reaching cult teen movie status like the 2000 classic “Bring It On.” The film, a mega-hit about two dueling cheerleader teams, has stood the test of time. Though it’s a movie about cheerleading on its surface, the themes of cultural appropriation and female empowerment are still relevant today. Nearly 20 years later, the antics of the Toros and the Clovers continue to be an entertaining watch. Still, we can’t help thinking how much better “Bring It On” would be if it was given a touch of the Latinidad with a fresh recast.
1. Selena Gomez as Torrence
Perky Torrence is the brand new cheer squad captain of the Rancho Carne Toros. The excitement of her new position quickly dulls when she realizes that she’s got some big shoes to fill. Originally played by Kirsten Dunst, Selena Gomez is perfect actress to fill this role. We know Gomez already has some killer moves already and that bubbly attitude of hers just screams “head cheerleader.”
2. Becky G as Missy
Full of fierce attitude, Missy is the new girl in school. Since Rancho Carne doesn’t have a gymnastics team, Missy has to settle for the next best thing — even if that means putting up with the air headed cheer team. Played by Eliza Dushku in the OG “Bring It On,” pop star Becky G is just the mujer to bring the Chigona POV to the Toros.
3. Tyler Posey as Cliff
Dreamboat Cliff is also new to Ranco Carne and he already has his sights on Torrence. Jesse Bradford played Cliff in the original movie but for our Latinx version, Tyler Posey is our guy. Charming high school senior by day, alternative rocker at night; we can totally see Posey crooning a love song to Gomez’s Torrence.
4. Cardi B as Isis
Head-Boss-Lady-In-Charge, Isis is the cheer captain of the East Compton Clovers. When she discovers the Toros have been stealing their moves, she rallies her Clovers to win Nationals. Played by Gabriel Union in the original movie, Cardi B is the only Afro-Latina who can bring the same level of fierceness to the role. We already know Cardi has the moves and there’s no question she can rep the Clovers as their leader.
5. Bella Thorne as Big Red
The former boss of the Toros, Big Red — played by Lindsay Sloane — is a force of nature. Not above flat out cheating to get what she wants, Big Red is the one who stole the Clovers’ routine for nationals. With this baggage, it’s going to take a formidable Latina to fill this role. That’s why Bella Thorne, with her fiery red hair and stellar acting chops, would be a perfect fit for our Latina Big Red.
6. Francia Raísa as Courtney
A member of the Rancho Carne Toros, Courtney is all confidence and sex appeal. She also has very strong opinions about who should and shouldn’t be a cheerleader and isn’t afraid to let it be known. Originally played by Clare Kramer, Francia Raísa is the perfect candidate for this role as she already has experience with the “Bring It On” franchise. The “Grown-ish” star played a cheerleader in “Bring It On: All Or Nothing.”
7. Auli’i Cravalho as Whitney
Dedicated cheerleader perfectionist Whitney is Courtney’s partner in crime. Just like Courtney, Whitney is very committed to the legacy of the Toros. Unfortunately, this dedication pushes the team into some questionable decisions. Originally played by Nicole Bilderback, Puerto Rican-Hawaiian actress Auli’i Cravalho would bring a fresh dynamic to this role.
8. Diego Boneta as Aaron
In the original “Bring It On,” Richard Hillman plays Torrence’s boyfriend and former Torro, Aaron. At first, he seems like a handsome and wholesome all-American guy but, in actuality, he’s a no-good cheater. Actor Diego Boneta has all of Aaron’s charm and is handsome enough to play this role in the Latinx reboot. He also has the acting talent to portray the POV of a dirty cheater.
9. Kehlani as Jenelope
A member of the Clovers, Jenelope is a girl who is not here for anyone else’s attitude. Originally played by R&B artist Natina Reed, this role definitely needs another boss artist for the Latinx reboot. Afro-Latina and American singer/songwriter Kehlani can bring the pose and the moves to this Clover.
10. Herizen Gaurdiola as Lava
Isis’ other Clover comadre, Lava is just as heated about the Toros stealing their moves as her name suggests. Shamari Fears originally played Lava but, for the reboot, we need an awesome Afro-Latina actress. Herizen Guardiola of Netflix’s “The Get Down” is just who we need to bring fresh flavor to this supporting role.
11. John Leguizamo as Sparky Polastri
Eccentric, mean and intimidating, Sparky Polastri is a so-called professional dance coach. The Toros call him in when things start looking desperate but his methods are totally bizarre. To make matters worse, the routine he sells them has also been sold to rival cheer teams. The wacky performance was originally done by Ian Roberts but we can totally see John Leguizamo in this memorable role.
Share this story with all of your friends by tapping our little share buttons below!