Taco Day

There is no translation available.

In an era where working class mestizo Mexican Americans and Central Americans are embarrassingly underrepresented in the field of arts and culture, Los Cenzontles has thrived for twenty five years – doing quality, groundbreaking pedagogical work, roots reviving, cross cultural collaborations, media creation etc - all planned and executed by our homegrown young artists, educators, producers and administrators.

The young people who do the work at Los Cenzontles are from a neighborhood like many others in California and around the country – working class communities that are subjected to societal neglect though substandard education and low expectations. But in spite of the disadvantages, our young leaders are doing nationally recognized work because of the rigorous training and support they receive at Los Cenzontles made possible by a different kind of vision - a vision of shared ownership and responsibility - with the support of enlightened supporters who help us survive a brutal and fickle funding environment.

Every day, our young people walk the walk by professionally engaging in intensive cultural work: teaching, training, studying, practicing, composing, researching, producing, performing, organizing and much more. Work in arts and culture develop skills of critical thinking, expression, resilience, problem solving, teamwork and leadership - the skills required to maintain and advance a vibrant democratic society. But somehow our society has decided that these skills are mostly to be cultivated in privileged communities.

So, why is the Los Cenzontles example more than a inspiring but isolated success story? Because these young people belong to one of the fastest growing demographics in the nation. They are our future consumers, tax payers, voters, teachers etc. Los Cenzontles has proven, time and time again, that these young people are in fact capable of excellence and rise to the challenge of sharing their values and vision with our larger society. This is what a democracy is, after all. We neglect an emerging majority at society's peril.

So, what will it take to activate the untapped talent of all our communities? It will take real representation, not tokenism; real conversations, not slogans; and real partners who actively address the opportunity and challenges. It requires real investment in new paradigms.

Taco day at the museum will not suffice.

- Eugene Rodriguez: Los Cenzontles Executive Director