Four years ago I was in a high school auditorium when President-elect became President Barack Obama. Along with some other students, I stood while he took his first oath of office.
We had to stand.
We were living in the past, present, and future simultaneously, and we needed to pay our respects.
It took a lot of lives to get us to this point.
Standing was our way of saying thank you.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Mr. Obama will do it again. I think I’m nostalgic because so many of those students who stood with me that day, most of whom are similar shades of brown, seem so much less invested in 2013.
It’s a shame. Because this Monday, students, especially Latinas in college—should be following the Inauguration diligently, for two reasons:
Latinos are Big
She’s all over the news. Sonia Sotomayor, who has already made history by becoming the first Latina (and third woman) to serve on the Supreme Court, was chosen by Vice President Joe Biden to be the first Hispanic judge to administer the oath of office.
Remember when having any Hispanic, let alone a woman in a high profile position of leadership, power, and responsibility seemed like a pipe-dream? Sometimes it still feels surreal—is this real life?
But three years later, it feels almost…normal.
In fact, she belongs in Washington.
Some of you may have heard about The Wise Latina Club’s crush on this man.
If you still don’t know who Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco is, you need to look up him right now.
We’ll even direct you to the website of the person reading the Inaugural poem.
The Justice and the Poet’s presence is making us personally connect to the Inauguration like never before, especially those of us currently finishing degrees at universities with small Hispanic student populations. Like us they are living their lives on the bi-cultural tightrope. Unlike us, they’ve been doing it a lot longer, since we were in elementary school, actually, and are proof that one day we too can master it.
…And We Can Be Bigger
Two prominent Americans of Hispanic descent will stand out from the crowd that day. A woman with the same Spanglish/Bronx accent (like the one that tumbles out of my mouth in class when I’m passionately arguing a point) will be leading the Vice President of the United States through his oath.
Another educated Latino will be reciting a poem before millions.
That number seems somehow both very big and much too small.
Let’s make this clear: I am not a thankless person. And as a community, we have a lot to be grateful for.
Indeed, our Latino world is better.
But it is not the best it could be.
Four years ago I was a high school senior and I stood in honor of everyone who had given me a world where Latinas can receive honors scholarships and get great educations.
If we do our jobs right, in fifty years students will stand to honor of us.
We just need to commit–our strengths, our patience, and, most importantly, our undivided attention to individually reaching for the stars. If each of us does this and stays engaged, together, we can uplift our community and our country.
The Wise Latina Club’s Dulce-Marie Flecha is a rising senior at Penn State. When she is not writing her honors thesis, she is trying to learn a fourth language, feeding her fashion obsession by Googling her favorite designers’, or begging the Yankees to hit with runners in scoring position. Click here to read more about and connect with Dulce-Marie.Will you be watching the Inauguration or volunteering on Saturday–a national day of community service in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.?