When you ask Elm City College Prep Middle students – and sisters—Leislani and Milani why celebrating Latinx Heritage month is important, the reason is clear. It is for their ancestors.
For the girls, celebrating their ancestors is essential. And, honoring their roots and remembering how culture is formed are two ways they choose to celebrate.
Milani, a fifth-grader, sees the time as a celebration for their ancestors, a time to remember and honor them even while they are not here anymore.
That’s why Leislani, a seventh-grader, names Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) as her favorite cultural holiday. It’s a time for remembering and appreciating relatives. It’s a time for gratitude for their ancestors, for forming their family – -and overall culture—into what it is today.
When Milani thinks of the importance of her ancestors, of culture, and heroes, she thinks of the Puerto Rican artists she studied back in fourth-grade art class. She loved how they translated the rich world around them. It made her want other people to know that she’s Hispanic and wants to represent her culture.
Leislani has heard many stories about how Puerto Rico, the place where her mother was born and grew up, came to be. Her ancestors helped make her mom who she is today – and her mom is her hero, Leislani says. And, she’s not the only one. Leislani knows that she and her sister come from a long line of heroes and people that make a difference in the world.
That’s part of what it means to be Latinx. This month and every month, that’s what Lesilani and Milani are celebrating.
Leislani and Milani are sisters and students at Elm City College Prep Middle.