This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Understanding Hispanic culture as a white guy from Minneapolis

When I grew up, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I had never even met an Hispanic person. My school had blacks, Asians (we called them "orientals" back then), but really no hispanic people. At least none that I recall. So when I moved to Phoenix as a teenager, they came as a bit of a "culture shock" to me.

It's true that when you move away from where you are raised, you never really fit in to your old world, or your new world, ever. In Arizona and California, I was very much the "midwestern boy". When I visited Minnesota, you would have thought that people expected me to wear a sombrero, I was so Mexican. One of my Canadian friends once watched in amazement as I took some pieces of chicken and rolled them up into a tortilla. You would have thought I was doing some kind of magic act!

One of my best friends that I met in college had been born in Mexico. While I took going to ASU for granted, it was quite an achievement for my friend, who remembered picking lettuce during his boyhood. And over the years our friendship has helped me to understand his culture, and for him to understand mine. And neither one of us is quite pure.

One of the first things I realized about Hispanic culture is the honoring of family. This including not just all living relatives, but honoring the dead. If you want to see flowers on a headstone that is over seventy years old, visit the Hispanic part of a cemetery. And while my interest in the family genealogy just sort of "creeped out" my family back home, my Hispanic friends found it perfectly natural.

Yeah, I will always have the pale skin and the "ojos azules", but culture is not determined by how you were born, it's determined by how you live.

Pictured - Me with Jesus, the brother of my neighbor José in Santa Barbara.
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