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Quoted: Damarys Ocaña on Hispanic Heritage Month

Three ships on the horizon. What do they bring? Many today are proud that the Niña,, the Pinta, and the Santa María – which brought Christopher Columbus and his men to Cuba on Oct. 28, 1492, on their first trip to the Americas – also carried with them European scientific advances and the richness of a culture more than 1,000 years old. Others see Spain’s coming to the Americas as disastrous: It made an empire wealthy off the backs of indigenous tribes and enslaved Africans whose families were torn apart and who died of overwork and European diseases. But perhaps there’s middle ground to consider. Honor those who died and acknowledge the good, bad, and ugly of our beginnings – for, like it or not, out of that violent mash-up of cultures, ambitions, and wills, Latinos and Latin culture were born. And above all, be proud of our accomplishments, especially since at some point in the histories of all our countries, we took the reigns of our own destiny.

— “Birth of a Culture” by Damarys Ocaña, published in Latina October 2009.