The image above is from www.grammy.com/latin
I am embarrassed to say this, but my first concert ever was to see Menudo. For those of you who have never heard of Menudo, believe me, you're not missing out on much. They were very popular in the 80's, a teenage boy band from Puerto Rico. Interestingly, Ricky Martin began his career as a Menudo member. Needless to say, Ricky has certainly moved on to bigger and better things. Latin music has also evolved over the years. As demonstrated by the 8th Latin Grammy Awards, which were held last night in Las Vegas. Most importantly, it is an example of how important the Latino population has become in the U.S.
According to the latest statistics published by the U.S Census Bureau, in 2006, Latinos comprise 14.8% (roughly 44.3 million) of the U.S population. Thus, making this the largest (and the fastest-growing) minority group in the U.S. Growing up in New York, many of my Latino classmates were Nuyoricans (New Yorkers of Puerto Rican descent). Unfortunately, although they spoke Spanish, we only spoke to each other in English. Thus, last night, when Ricky Martin urged young Latinos not to lose the ability to speak their language, it struck a chord in me. I have numerous friends and acquaintances, whose parents immigrated to the U.S from other parts of the world, that can't speak their parents' native tongue. Obviously, it's not entirely their fault. However, I think it's a shame when we focus too much on being "American." There are many who strive to assimilate into mainstream society, to be accepted, which means to focus on speaking English only. However, I think last night's awards ceremony illustrates the conscientious effort of those who realize that you can be both Latino and American.
The Latin Grammys is a wonderful celebration of the beauty of Latino music in the U.S. It also goes to show that things in life are not necessarily always in black or white. The definition of being American can be very difficult and complicated, and it comes in many different layers. Instead of considering the U.S as a 'melting pot', I've always preferred the 'salad bowl' description, and this is one of the things I love most about the U.S. By the way, since this is my blog, I'd like to congratulate a friend of mine who worked on the Calle 13 album. He won a Grammy last night!! Woo hoo! Congrats!