When you want to find other people who went through the saaaaaame turmoils, joys, struggles and ENDLESS ROASTING SESSIONS you did growing up, there’s always Twitter. And this week, Latino Twitter took a look back on what it means to grow up in a Latino family:
Life is complicated. Luckily, Latinos have sayings, or refrains, that help with managing expectations and making better choices. Beyond offering sound advice, some clever sayings, when dropped like jewels at just the right moment, help transform tension into laughter. While some sayings seem outdated, folk witticisms leftover from the early days, they address elements of the human condition that are timeless like love, jealousy, ingratitude, and morality. Whether deciding to stay in a long-distance relationship or looking for an old-school diss, these 20 Latino sayings are worth memorizing and dishing out the next time a golden opportunity presents itself.
Talk About Love
1. Mejor sola que mala acompañada.
Better to be alone then among bad company. This saying is great for those moments when the fear of being alone starts to kick in. More deeply, this timeless saying is also reflective of the importance of self- love.
2. Amor de lejos, felices los cuatros.
In long-distance love, four people are happy. This pessimistic proverb suggests long-distance relationships provide fertile ground for infidelity. This saying came about before technology helped couples stay more in touch than ever. And yet, the possibility remains.
3. Juntos pero no revueltos.
Together but not mixed. This dicho is the equivalent of saying, “It’s complicated.” It’s a great way to explain why a couple doesn’t live together, or why they are not married.
4. Un clavo saca otro clavo.
A nail removes the other nail. The meaning behind this refrán is that a new relationship, or lover, can help a person get over a failed relationship.
5. Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente.
Out of sight, out of mind. It’s hard to say this refrán without thinking about Alexis & Fido’s 2009 hit song.
Proceed With Caution
6. Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres.
Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are. This saying has come out of many parents’ mouths. It’s a perfect proverb for helping a person decide what kind of company they should keep.
7. Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo.
The devil knows more because he is old than because he is the devil. In other words, with age comes wisdom. This saying also warns against elders who may be sly or have bad intentions.
8. Con un dedo no se tapa el sol.
The sun cannot be covered with a finger. This is a great piece of advice that addresses the way self-deception is harmful. It also calls out quick fixes that don’t serve to address larger issues.
9. En boca cerrada no entran moscas.
A closed mouth does not catch flies. This idiom more accurately translates to ‘silence is golden.’ This refrán extols the virtues of discretion.
10. El que no llora, no mama.
The baby who doesn’t cry, doesn’t get milk. This saying is akin to ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease.’ A great refrán serving to inspire vocalization of needs and wants.
Insults Que Arden
11. A otro perro con ese hueso.
To another dog with that bone. It’s the “talk to the hand” of all the idioms. Deploy this saying at the sight of deception.
12. Se cree la última Coca Cola del desierto.
He/She thinks they are the last Coca-Cola in the desert. A third-degree burn, this little gem calls out people who think they are more attractive or desirable than everyone else.
13. Se cree mejor de la bolita del mundo.
He/She thinks they are the best in the world. The exact translation fails to convey the hilarity of this saying. While also a diss to those who think they are hot stuff, the saying reduces the entire planet into a tiny, little ball.
14. Se fue de Guatemala a Guata-peor!
This a saying that relies on a play on words, mala meaning bad, and peor meaning worse. The idea is that the person went from one bad situation to an even worse situation.
15. Cuando tu ibas, yo venia.
When you were coming, I was leaving. A great diss from an elder, this dicho also conveys a knowing that comes with age. It works particularly well when directed at teenagers who attempt to be deceptive but are really transparent.
For the Nostalgia and the LOLs
16. Quien fue a Sevilla, perdió su silla.
Who went to Sevilla lost his/her chair. Here is a fun phrase that relies on wordplay and rhyme.
17. Tirar las puertas por las ventanas.
Throw the doors out the windows. This is what you say when you plan to have an absolute blow out party! Think of New Year’s Eve, Cinco de Mayo, or birthdays.
18. Vete a freír papas.
Go fry potatoes. While this saying may seem like an insult, it works as a playful way to tell someone to go to hell without sounding so vulgar.
19. Por si las moscas.
For if the flies. This is more of a nostalgic phrase that means ‘just in case.’ Use it when deciding on whether or not to pack that snack bar or an umbrella.
20. Calabaza, calabaza, todo el mundo para su casa!
Pumpkin, pumpkin, everyone go home! Our final phrase is a fun way to end the fiesta, or bring the gathering to a close.
Talking about our primos in prison is taboo. If you ever had a family member in prison, you may avoid talking about it outside your family circle. The incarcerated family member then becomes a ghost, a cautionary tale, or a source of shame. We forget how they arrived in this situation and hesitate to offer support. Looking closely at issues that contribute to mass incarceration in this country can offer insights into the matter. It’s time we take a new approach to incarcerated family, and offer help in ways the correctional system refuses. It’s time to humanize our imprisoned primos and primas, showing love and empathy that we would want to see if we were behind bars.
However, looking at social issues that plague the Latinx community, it is no surprise that low levels of education, poverty, and structural discrimination lead to incarceration. With the latest instances of aggression toward the Latinx community at the presidential level, it will be no surprise if acts of discrimination and targeting of Latinos continues to rise.
What other factors contribute to the incarceration of Latinos?
Credit: Bill Oxford / Unsplash
The Pew Research Center reports that in 1991, 60 percent of Latinos were sentenced in federal court for drug-related offenses, and 20 percent for immigration crimes. Yet, these figures changed dramatically, with 48 percent of sentences for immigration crimes, and 37 percent of sentences for drug-related crimes in 2007.
The incarceration of Latinos is feeding into the conversation around the school to prison pipeline.
Credit: @LatinoPPF / Twitter
What is the prison experience really like? Netflix series like Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us,” and “Orange is the New Black” help pull back the curtain on the harsh realities of prison life. More than just TV shows, these depictions exposed micro and macro ways the U.S., home to the largest prison population in the world, focuses not on prisoner rehabilitation, but recidivism instead.
When we think about our family members in prison, we need to remember that they could be facing sexual violence, lack of access to mental health services, solitary confinement, and denial of their reproductive rights.
Credit: Mitch Lensink / Unsplash
It may be the case that an incarcerated family member’s situation is shrouded in mystery and whispers, but this need not be the case. It is not only time to confront these matters at the family level, but to address them at the social level as well. The first step may begin with actually accepting that inmate call. Ask what your family member is going through and share that with the family if he or she permits. You may feel a sense of hopelessness, but there is so much you can do to help not only your own family members but the greater incarcerated Latino community too.
Moving beyond thoughts and prayers—although they’re good too—here are substantive ways you can help incarcerated family members.
Credit: @Art4JusticeFund / Twitter
Visit if you can. Even if it is only a few times a year, the impact of human contact cannot be overstated. Ensure you are on the approved visitor’s list before you go. Bring identification and arrive early. Be a good listener and most importantly, show that family love.
The experience of visiting prison can be inconvenient or even traumatic, so if you feel you cannot commit this fully then try a virtual visit. Apps like JPay offer inmate services like email, video visitation, and secure payment transfers. Send pictures of the family or a video of a holiday gathering.
If apps prove to be intimidating, try sending a letter. Have picture printed out—old school style—and include them in your letters. Families are full of births, marriages, and so many other beautiful life events. Share them with your primos and primas who can’t be there with you. If you feel like you simply don’t want to communicate with your incarcerated family member, but you still want to contribute to the cause in some way, join a prison pen pal organization and bring a sense of human connection to others.
Another way to help the family behind bars is to send books. The organization, NYC books through bars, understands how much books can help with the rehabilitation and the education process in prison.
Another act of solidarity with your incarcerated family member is to donate to the ACLU Prisons Project. “Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, we work to ensure that conditions of confinement are consistent with health, safety, and human dignity and that prisoners retain all rights of free persons that are not inconsistent with incarceration.”
If you have a family member in prison, it is important to their own recovery and reformation to know they have people who love and support them.
Credit: aclu_nationwide / Instagram
With an array of opportunities to help our family members in prison, it is important to note that reintroduction to society can pose a major challenge for former inmates. These are areas where you can help too. Our imprisoned family members may have been victims of the system, they may have survived the only way they know how, or maybe they just made a mistake. Whatever the circumstance, the key is to remember they are human, and most importantly, they are familia. So ask yourself, for their sake and the sake of our community, what can you do to help?