Odilia Rivera Santos
During Hispanic Heritage Month, the media bombards Americans with images of Latino 'superpeople,' a term used in a NY Times article recently on overachievers who speak three or more languages and hold advanced degrees in subject areas requiring both sides of the brain.
For persons from a humble background who didn't have access to the kinds of mentorship,education and/or familial support necessary to reach superpeople status, Latino superpeople can be both a source of pride and discomfort. Regardless of how damaging it may be, people tend to compare themselves to those in the spotlight. And it is often the case that those with the least educational opportunities also lack an understanding of what such high achievement necessitates. There are incremental steps one must take before becoming a CEO at a respectable socially-conscious corporation - they exist.
Being disconnected from the reality of how many people are involved in the achievements of one person sometimes causes Latinos to have unrealistic goals, which inevitably leads to failure. The Latino superpeople didn't pop up in a vacuum.
Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates mainly those who have had tremendous triumphs on the world stage, but we should also celebrate the Latinos offstage in the back of the theater or those in the standing room area.
Today is a good day to celebrate the everyday superpeople, the Latinos who have made an art of survival, who love and nurture their families, who accept failure as part of the rhythm of life and continue to strive for a better life while appreciating the life they have.
I am working on a collection of essays about work entitled Work Chronicles to be published as an e-book on Smashwords in November; in the meantime, you can check out my creative nonfiction essays Latinalogue Puerto Rican Nonfiction Part I and Latinalogue Puerto Rican Nonfiction Part II: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/69697
Writers, be careful not to die of exposure.