As a member of the Latino community, I’ve always been aware of the closeness that many Latino families are known to have. In my particular case, my family is close. Between the telenovela-like secrets and the usual family disagreements, we have always found a way to make up by the weekend carne asadas, or “family days,” as my mom calls them. America has been social distancing for about a month now, which means time with the family looks different for everyone. This week, I wanted to look at different Latino families and how the pandemic’s new normal has affected them.
I interviewed a few young Latino professionals. Of all the things I heard, the most remarkable part of familias in quarantine was the resilience that every family embodied. Whether they feel suffocated by the newfound enclosure or whether they feel a vast distance, independent young professionals have found the shelter-in-place order no match for family ties.
Family time is different right now. Those who live with family expressed being able to enjoy board games, conversation, and meals with them despite the newfound overload. Those who are tackling the pandemic on their own shared their life hacks for familiar connection. Phone calls, FaceTime, and innovative online gaming platforms allow the independent Latinos to play games with their family members from a distance.
The pandemic has brought disguised blessings for some. Take Alex's case, he feels like the pandemic has bought him valuable time with his aging parents, "the whole purpose of moving back home was to spend more time with my parents, but I feel like I hadn’t until now." For years Alex has been trying to spend as much time with his parents as he possibly can, but it wasn't until now that he feels the time spent has been of genuine quality.
The close quarters some are experiencing has not deteriorated their family relationships. Although some find the new daily interaction overwhelming, they are still grateful for having people to be sheltered with. As these Latinos learn to balance family time and space, they continue to look on the bright side.
Another blessing has been the increased purposeful engagement that families have benefited from. A few of the people I interviewed expressed seeing an increase in the number of phone calls and texts being exchanged between themselves and other family members. While they have always routinely checked in on family members, the new order has somehow initiated a more consistent and enriching interaction. This hit home. I call my mother daily, pandemic or not, but suddenly the regular phonecalls have been upgraded from a voice call to Facetime. What is that all about?
Familias have shown dedication and commitment to each other that, although had always been implied, had not been experienced before. Esmeralda is a self-made go-getting Latina with the perfect air of nonchalant enthusiasm. While most things slide off her back like water on a slide, there are just some things that cannot go ignored, like her father's birthday.
Instead of wallowing in secondhand accounts of her father's birthday celebration, 2 hours away, Esmeralda joined the celebration in the body of an iPad. Her head blended amongst the rest of her family, who live together, as they sang happy birthday to him. Esmeralda was kind enough to share this personal moment with us!
Regardless of the times, Latino families, like many others, are still family. The most beautiful part of it all is seeing all the connections, stories, and bonds continuing to flourish in the time of Corona. Looks like beer isn't the only Corona bringing familias together.