Recently, I was in my favorite El Salvadorean restaurant, and ordered my favorite dish, pescado frito—fried fish with rice and a salad, and tortillas. While waiting for my meal, I heard some heart-warming, romantic, Spanish music over the radio. I was so touched that I had to ask the waiter what station it is because I intended to start tuning in myself when I got home. It then dawned on me that, for years, I have been coming out as TRANS-CULTURAL.
My co-worker was surprised at my love for old-school soul music.
One day at a company party, someone threw on some old-school R&B music, and I started rocking to the beat and grooving to the melody. An African-American co-worker asked me, “Bill, you like this music?” She asked because she knows about my deep love for Latin music, especially salsa and Afro-Cuban, and of course, about my ability to speak Spanish. This gave her, and so many others, the impression that I might have some Latin-American blood in my system.
By birth I'm African-American, and grew up jamming to the likes of the Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, and James Brown. However, I affirmed to my co-worker that if African-American music had not changed from the days of Motown and Stax Records, I would never have crossed over to Spanish music as deeply as I did.
I'm primarily self-taught in Spanish inspired by my Puerto Rican neighbors and classmates.
In the fifth grade, I started teaching myself Spanish out of a children's library book, and began practicing on my Puerto Rican neighbors and school mates, who by their very presence influenced me to want to learn Spanish in the first place.
During my teen years while listening to the popular African-American radio station, WWRL in New York City, I noticed how the DJs gave airtime to Puerto Rican musicians playing Latin jazz and Latin soul music. This planted a seed in my heart, and from there my tastes in Latin-American music expanded to music from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Perú, and other countries.
My Spanish and my hobby of exploring the black Latin American experience made me Trans-cultural without my realizing it.
It was well into my adulthood when my interest in the Spanish language resurfaced from my childhood interest. A Mexican-American friend, who noticed the progress that I was making, admonished me to learn the culture if I'm going to speak the language!
I took that advice and ran with it. Because of my interest in black history, I decided to learn more about black Latin-American history and culture. As years passed, I developed a brand new hobby of exploring black cultures in Latin-American countries through travel and research, thus the primary motive behind this blog, African-American - Latino World.
As an African American, my name is “Bill;” however, when I'm in Spanish-speaking country, my name is “Guillermo,” Spanish for my official first name, William. I am trans-cultural.