By Bernice Sosa-Izquierdo
Sociedad (Society): A voluntary association of individuals for common ends; especially: an organized group working together or periodically meeting because of common interests, beliefs or professions. Corporación (Cooperation): A group of merchants or traders united in a trade guild.
For those of you who are familiar with these terms, a-la-Merriam-Webster, let us explore a slightly different perspective a-la-vecindario. From the streets where many of us hail, la sociedad is an organization many Latinos join where they can have the opportunity to help them save a little extra hard earned money perhaps for an expected bill, upcoming trip, or special gift they are looking to purchase. This is how it works: the five members commit to an oral contract where each of them would contribute, say $100 per week, to a money pot. Every member would be assigned a number (1-Annie, 2-Marcos, 3-Evelyn, etc.). The numbers represent the number of weeks the sociedad would last and who would be entitled to the total funds on which week (i.e. week 1-Annie, week 2-Marcos, week 3- Evelyn and so on). Each person must pay the same amount for agreed length of time (in this case $100 every week for 5 weeks). Those who cannot pay the full amount but can commit to paying half, can share a number with another who also may not be able to pay in full (for example: Annie can go half on 1 with Eddie, each paying $50 instead of the $100 and collecting $250 each during week 1).
Our media has recently shed some more light upon the crises Latino Youth face today regarding family, education and employment. What is happening to the future of our seeds; their future doctors, lawyers, teachers, world leaders, etc.? The world of self-destruction is rapidly closing in on our spawns who are terribly lacking in the necessary life skills to survive this planet. There is no arguing that street survival is essential. But do we really need to question why/how it is that not all urban survivors can survive the outside world? Do the words comfort and lack mean anything to anyone? How can a society so desperate to fix the broken begin to mend the errs? How about killing off frustrating societal distortions? While people are currently being sold, traded and tortured, dying of disease and famine we continue living in a world where selfish insecurities justify senseless life threatening surgeries. Money hard earned burned on the construction of new armor, encasing blistered souls in the latest fashion. Distorted images reflected through fogged perceptions, helping block desired spiritual freedom whose absence is consistently mourned by the generations. Where true pride and happiness are considered unattainable luxuries, and disappointment and misery are foreseen as inevitable. We live in a world where articulate, inquisitive, and intelligent children are considered “inappropriately mature”; yet toddler and preschool girls dressed in mid-drift baring halter tops with miniskirts while sporting full manicures and pedicures, reciting the lyrics to the latest novela are considered “so adorable!” and little boys imitating gangsta swagger, style and slang are considered “so cute!” It is the legend of ‘hood generations being glorified by the commercial, accepted by the masses and stopped by the few who dare question and break the cycle.
Now back to our sociedad. What if Annie, Marcos, Evelyn and Eddie all challenged themselves to create a Corporación where generations would go to exchange and learn valuable information about their ancestry and cultural history, investing in the future of young impressionable minds? What if we all did? What if every week we had to pay in the amount of music, historical facts and figures, native tongue languages, art, poetry, typical foods, storytelling, pictures, and all else that is absent in “our” history classes? What if terms used included “when you achieve…”, “because we love you…”, “we will never abandon you…”, “you are a gift…” vs. “you will never/they won’t let you…”, “why did I have you?”, “if you dare I’ll kick you out…”, “you are a waste…” What if positivity and knowledge, strength and self-worth, guidance and perseverance replaced all negativity and ignorance, weakness and self-loathing, abandonment and irresolution? What if conservation of one’s origin were the key to the future? What if that expected bill is quality time, that trip self-exploration through lesson and history, and that special gift a prosperous future for generations to come? What if we have what it takes to not fear success and break out of asphyxiating comfort zones? What if we had the courage and strength to accept this challenge? What if it spread like disease? What if each population within the Latino culture would do it within their community promoting unity? What if we expanded that unity amongst nuestros hermanos Latino and created an indestructible force of productivity? What if being educated and successful while still being real is an achievable reality and not an illusion? What if…?
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