PHOENIX — There’s a scene in the movie Selena that may have struck a chord for anyone balancing two cultures and figuring out how it all fits within their story.
The scene takes place while Selena is driving with her dad and brother while her dad is complaining about the pull of being Mexican-American.
He sums up his gripe by saying, "We gotta be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans-both at the same time. It's exhausting!"
ASU Professor Dr. Rafael Martinez says it was a story so many people could relate to. He said, “In terms of, you know, being first second third generations in the United States, learning with how to cope with your identity in terms of your Mexican-ness and how that fits into us society.”
He spoke about the intersection of Latino and American culture.
The latest U.S. Census Bureau data shows there are more than 60 million Hispanic or Latinos currently living here and that number continues to grow. It's shaping the nation in many ways.
Dr. Martinez said, “The largest selling products in the United States is salsa right next to things like ketchup, right? And we don't tend to think of chili or salsa as one of those staples of American culture. But if you look at the numbers, clearly it is, right?"
Musicians like Selena, Celia Cruz, Ricky Martin, Carlos Santana and more paved the way for the artists of today.
Dr. Martinez says the country is taking notice, “Now, when you look at the sonic waves, and who is coordinating a lot of the attention in today's top charts, or streaming services, like, you know, you see that it's Latino, that are now not having to cross over and sound and speak English, but can do music in Spanish in their own traditional ways.”
Dr. Martinez added that communities should look for ways to see eye to eye as well as recognize our differences. “And we think about ways of including that into the narrative of what we call the United States of America.”