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Blog: Salsa and Patriotism

Enjoying Salsa on Independence Day, July 4th.

I recently wrote . The example I used was José Antonio Vargas who is a renowned journalist who has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize. The issue with José is that he came to the United States at the age of 12 as an undocumented immigrant, i.e., an illegal. As I read the comments on the Patch of as I asked myself do I define my patriotism and who I am as an American on the music that is played on the 4th of July or any other celebrated holiday? Of course the answer is NO! Just as José believed he was an American based on his national loyalty to the United States, I believe my patriotism to my country is not based on the music played on any celebrated holiday. It is based on the joys and freedoms given to me by the United States.

The word “salsa” translated to English means sauce; like the Italian sauce for spaghetti. Translated to music it means flavor and spice.  This musical flavor and spice did come from Cuba, however it was influenced by the slaves from Africa, by the indigenous people of the Caribbean, and by the Europeans who conquered the peoples of the Americas. The U.S. influence on salsa has been tremendous. There is New York style salsa, Miami style salsa, and Los Angeles style salsa. It has truly become an American form of music. Internationally salsa is viewed as an American phenomenon.

On July 4th 1,500 people, who are all Americans, enjoyed this American form of music. However, there may be some who don’t enjoy salsa. I personally would rather hear . Memorial Day is celebrated to remember the men and women who died serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Is the Blues the best form of music to honor these fallen heroes/heroines? In memory of them I truly just enjoyed the music as hundreds of others did.

I currently am volunteering as a tutor at Cabrillo College for the Migrant Summer Program. On the day after the Fourth of July celebration I asked the students why we celebrate the Fourth of July in the United States. They responded by saying it’s Independence Day. They continued by saying that with our independence we have the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble, and freedom to have control of our lives. For those that did not enjoy the salsa music you had the freedom to leave. You had the freedom to go elsewhere to enjoy the Fourth. You even had the freedom to complain about the music. However, for those who stayed to enjoy the music I would suspect they feel as patriotic and as American as you do. They truly enjoyed the Fourth of July dancing to salsa music.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cathy P. July 11, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Everything was fine until I got to the: "For those that did not enjoy the salsa music you had the freedom to leave. You had the freedom to go elsewhere to enjoy the Fourth." The “if you don’t like it, leave” notion is a false dichotomy because there are always adequate alternatives to those two choices.
David H. Perez July 11, 2012 at 04:43 PM
I don't think it is too much for people to ask that our country's one special day, the birthday of America, be celebrated with more appropriate music, and in ENGLISH! After all, English IS our language. As residents of Watsonville, all year long we have to tolerate people disrespectfully flying the Mexican flag, people driving through our neighborhoods blaring Mexican music at decibel levels unknown to man, and people routinely having parties with illegal amplified music that we are all forced to listen to whether we like it or not. Having this stuff shoved down our throats all year long, I don't think one day of Yankee Doodle Dandy, blues and rock and roll is too much to ask. After all, it wouldn't be appropriate to play Christmas music on Labor Day, would it? So bring on the patriotic songs on the fourth, as well as some good old American music in English to dance to. And I do agree with itsmecissy about the "if you don't like it, leave" attitude. Maybe you, Rebecca, and others with that attitude should take YOUR attitudes and leave.
Jacob Bourne (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 06:10 PM
The "if you don't like it, leave" attitude gained a lot of traction nearly 10 years ago at the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. People who opposed the wars, which millions agree were unconstitutional, were told that if they didn't like the unilateral decision Bush made to invade those countries, that they could go live in another country. In other words, my way or the highway. Cissy and David, that is not at all what Rebecca is saying here. She's not rudely saying "if you don't like salsa music, you're don't belong." She's saying that there were tons of alternatives right here in Santa Cruz County where salsa music wasn't playing. The 1500 people at the salsa concert were not affecting the lives of everyone else in the county on July 4. The same can't be said for pro-war citizens telling pacifists to get out. So let's not automatically discount the "if you don't like it, leave" statement as antagonistic. Every concert, despite the day on the calendar, is not going to be the concert that you want to hear. You have to find the one you want. Why are we trying to create a homogenous musical experience everywhere just because it's the 4th of July? No, you wouldn't sing patriotic American songs at a Cinco de Mayo party. But would you ban concerts in English on May 5? This was not a Fourth of July party. This was a Twilight Concert that fell on July 4. Furthermore, David, would please explain what is disrespectful about flying a flag of another nation?
Peking July 11, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Jacob, yours is a well-written response as was Rebecca's blog statements. However, I'm afraid that there is nothing we can do about people who have pent up prejudices that spill out into anonymous blog posts. The US is a bilingual country, trilingual in some areas, and I love that. Equal opportunities for all. So much of our economy in Santa Cruz County depends for its success on hard-working Latinos who show up every day for work, making our restaurants, bakeries, landscaping businesses, among others, thrive. If those folks want to go home and play their music and speak their language and display the flags of their homeland, then more power to them. That is the essence of America.
Peking July 11, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Grammar alert: "were" not "was." Oh, one more thing (as Columbo used to say) San Jose, Santa Cruz, San Miquel, San Francisco, San Diego, are those place names English?
Jacob Bourne (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 06:58 PM
You can go ahead and add Capitola, Soquel, Aptos, Corralitos, Aromas, Monterey, Salinas...
Victoria Banales July 11, 2012 at 08:49 PM
It is very sad, indeed, when we cling to old notions of what it means to be "patriotic" or "American." I appreciate Rebecca Garcia's well thought-out and meaningful blog about the 4th of July as I appreciate others' responses to her blog. Living in a multiracial society with different languages, flags, music, foods, customs, traditions, beliefs, etc. is what makes a true democracy, and that is something to be patriotic and proud about. Why the desire to cling on to a monoculture and insist on "ENGLISH" only (and in capital letters, mind you)? For whites, this is called racism; for people of color, this is called internalized racism. Either way, it's a profound fear, but there is no need. David: why all the hostility? Put on your salsa dancing shoes and enjoy the beats and rhythm! I, myself, embrace it all: salsa, rock, hip hop, blues, rancheras, cinco de Mayo, 4th of July, etc. It's all in good spirit, and I was there at the Capitola beach, and everyone seemed to be enjoying the music and festivities.
Cathy P. July 11, 2012 at 09:00 PM
You've misunderstood what I was saying and are putting words in my mouth. I never said Rebecca was "rudely saying" anything or being antagonistic. I enjoyed the post up until the words '...you have the freedom to leave." Whenever a conversation turns in that direction -in my opinion- the conversation ceases because there's nothing left to say, the conversation is over.
Cathy P. July 11, 2012 at 09:06 PM
@Peking: "there is nothing we can do about people who have pent up prejudices that spill out into anonymous blog posts." ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If you are including me in this category, you are sorely mistaken. How sad that you judge me without knowing me. You know nothing about me or my life or how I live my life. Everyone has preferences, prejudices and biases, mine has never "spilled out" onto any human being of any race, ethnicity, or color. I resent your assumption.
David H. Perez July 11, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Peking - I also do not appreciate you implying that because my views differ from yours, I am prejudiced. You don't know me. And regarding the "anonymous blog posts" you referred to, I am not anonymous at all. The name I am using is my real name, and if you notice, my last name is not exactly Irish or German. I am of Mexican descent myself and I am proud of that. So how can I be prejudiced against myself??? But I was born and educated in this country, and I am an American first, and I respect our flag, our national identity and our language.
Jane July 11, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Ms. Garcia, I think your post was very-well put and I couldn't agree more. Perfectly stated.
Cathy P. July 12, 2012 at 02:51 PM
FYI - "Soquel" is a Costanoan Indian word for “place of the willows.” The name Aptos may also come from a Costanoan Indian word for "meeting of two waters."
Victoria Banales July 12, 2012 at 06:14 PM
David, just because one is Mexican, this doesn't mean one cannot be prejudiced against other Mexicans (or against other people of color, for that matter). As I stated before, this is called "internalized racism" where a person of color may feel ashamed of his/her background/culture/ethnicity and sides with the dominant (white) culture. Think Clarence Thomas, Ward Connerly, or Linda Chavez, for example. Skin color or "ethnic" last names do not shield one from espousing prejudiced views, and your paragraph on Watsonville and tviews about Capitola's beach event and the insistence on ENGLISH only are in sync with xenophobic views and fears of the "other." More disturbingly, they evidence traits of internalized racism.
Wayne Green July 13, 2012 at 03:44 AM
I think that its okay for David to not want to be identified as a certain kind of Mexican. Theres a number of different kinds of Mexicans I imagine. Just because he's not gunjo about salsa or banda or la cucaracha makes no difference. What? he feels the Fourth should be English only?! Lets stone the s.o.b. he hates his damn self. So does that Linda Chavez loving mecissy gal. They've been internalized, since you dont like it leave David! Leave I say!
David H. Perez July 13, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Victoria - I am reminded of the Latin quote, "Cogito, ergo spud", translated, "I think, therefore I yam." In the words of Popeye, a great American figure, "I yam what I yam."
Cathy P. July 13, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Who's Linda Chavez?

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