Photo: Valor Latino looks to engage young Latinos in hopes of preserving culture, music, and identity.
Linda Ronstadt and other celebrities are lending their names, faces, and support to a new campaign intended to engage Latino youth in their culture and history by way of creative expression.
Valor Latino, which launched Wednesday at Los Cenzontles (The Mockingbirds) Mexican Arts Center in San Pablo, California, has garnered support from Ronstadt, filmmaker Les Blank, and even David Hidalgo of popular rock band Los Lobos.
Ronstadt said the campaign is aimed at reaching more than the 200 students taught at the center each quarter. She said that for too long Latino youth had “been invisible in this culture.”
Los Cenzontles founder Eugene Rodriguez called young Latinos “the fastest-growing population in the United States,” and said, “We can choose to marginalize them or we can choose to invest in them.” And that’s exactly what Valor Latino is about.
The movement was created to showcase Los Cenzontles’ 17-year dedication to the preservation of Latino-inspired music styles and other aspects of Mexican culture.
In a video called “La Pelota” (The Ball), animation is used to depict a “political soccer game” if you will, in which the population is used as a soccer ball. The video, by Dioniso Ceballos, incorporates information from a study by a University of California Davis professor, and includes the ever-growing number of Latino eligible to vote.
“It’s really learn your tradition first,” Rodriguez said. “We need to recognize who we are, where we come from. We need to take the best from our ancestral culture, take the best of what we have in the United States and that’s our future.”
Videos like Ceballos’ and those of a more musical nature are encouraged, and Rodriguez hopes video submissions will continue to come in so that they can be posted on the organization’s YouTube as well as appear on Valor Latino’s website.
“We’re inviting other young people to show us their vision for America,” he said. “They can send in anything, really, as long as they have heart.”
He adds that social media allows for a longer reach, and is excited to reach as many people as possible. “Facebook and Twitter and whatever else they have next year” they’ll use it.