Get to Know Six Hispanic Voices Honoring Their Heritage | Off The Cuff (2024)

Community /
October 2022

Get to Know Six Hispanic Voices Honoring Their Heritage | Off The Cuff (1)Get to Know Six Hispanic Voices Honoring Their Heritage | Off The Cuff (2)

Heritage is defined as one’s inheritance — what gets passed down from generation to generation. That inheritance is a crucial part of a person’s backstory, especially in a place like the United States that is undoubtedly made better by its diverse cultures and perspectives.

When honoring Hispanic heritage, you can’t do so without acknowledging that it is a rich tapestry made up of traditions and histories that are being reimagined through the creative lenses of individuals who are bridging the gap between the past, present and future. This Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re showcasing six of those voices who proudly represent their Hispanic heritage while pushing the culture forward. They each customized a Trucker Jacket or pair of 501® jeans in partnership with Levi’s® tailors that referenced everything from Chicano art to Afro-Latino iconography in their creative process.

Levi’s® will also be making $10,000 donations to United We Dream and Hispanic Star, two organizations at the forefront of uplifting and advocating for Hispanic communities.

Chef Nelson German, owner of alaMar Kitchen and Sobre Mesa co*cktail Lounge of Dominican Heritage

You proudly sit at the intersection of many identities including Afro-Latin, Afro-Caribbean and Dominican American. Can you talk a little bit about your heritage and how it has influenced your work as a chef, and the creation of Your restaurant, alaMar, and co*cktail lounge, Sobre Mesa?

Growing up all I knew [was] that I was Dominican, and being first-generation, we wanted to be American first. [At a young age] I would [try to] identify as American by speaking English outside of my home and brushing my hair a certain way. [There was] a lack of history being passed down from our elders. Nothing about our roots being tied to Africa. When I got into the [food] industry it was the same deal where I would pay respect to other cultures instead of [my own]. It wasn’t until I moved to the Bay Area and finally opened my own restaurant that there was this inkling of “let me give a tribute to my past and my culture.” I did that by adding my Braised Oxtail dish and plantains to my menu as a tribute to my mom and my roots.

Throughout the years I became more intrigued with learning about myself and how far my roots go. I give props to Oakland for the man I am today. The rich Black history of grassroots activism, pride for Black culture, and most importantly the appreciation for the whole African diaspora. It made me curious to learn more as I realized the food I grew up with was identical to food from the diaspora, especially in West Africa. I researched the lineage and the way the food traveled throughout the years.

I had the honor of being on Top Chef in 2021. [My experience on] the show made me want to focus on Pan African cuisine that represents the whole African diaspora. It’s a way for me to represent my Afro-Latin culture. I’ve realized I’m not just Latino/Hispanic. I’m Afro-Latino which [acknowledges] my African lineage. I represent [my culture] fully because my life has come full circle. As a chef, I’m a catalyst in introducing my culture and food to thousands of people who dine at my eateries.

    Genai, Model and Creator of Mexican Heritage

    You’ve carved out a lane all your own through modeling and content creation. Can you talk about your journey as a Mexican American creator forging your path forward?

    My family is mixed, Mexican, Japanese and American. I’m fourth generation here in the U.S. and have lived in Los Angeles my whole life. Growing up, I struggled at times because it felt like I wasn’t fully accepted by any of the cultures that make up who I am. Like I wasn’t enough of one thing to satisfy people’s ideas of what I should be. Over the years — with the support of my family and friends, and the ability to meet others with similar stories to mine — the pride I’ve always had has become something I share with [others].

    As someone who wished they saw someone in the media who looked like me growing up or even just someone I felt I could relate to, I want to be able to provide that for [other] young girls. I think content creation and modeling have allowed me to meet many Latina women in places I wish to be one day who have helped me on my journey. I believe [that’s] helping me grow into being that for others someday.

      Get to Know Six Hispanic Voices Honoring Their Heritage | Off The Cuff (4)

      Stefano Alcantara, Tattoo Artist and Founder of Stefano’s Tattoo Studio of Peruvian heritage

      Your tattoo shop is a living, breathing expression of your life’s work. How has your background lent itself to how you’ve built your shop, Stefano’s Tattoo Studio NYC?

      It wasn’t easy moving from Peru to the U.S. [It was] a lot of hard work, bumps [along] the road, and detours, but all was worth it. I never would have imagined the way my life changed living in this country full of opportunities. My shop in New York City is so special because New York is where my career took off. Having my name in a storefront in the most hip neighborhood is a dream come true. I love [meeting people] in person at tattoo conventions, [especially] my people from back home and all over South and Central America. They are proud that a Peruvian could make it in the Big Apple. [There] is nothing more special and rewarding than people that I have never met supporting me. I feel that I’m just starting.

        Get to Know Six Hispanic Voices Honoring Their Heritage | Off The Cuff (6)Get to Know Six Hispanic Voices Honoring Their Heritage | Off The Cuff (7)

        Diego Lopez, Dancer and Artist of Mexican heritage

        Expression is one of the most powerful ways we can share our stories with the world. You express so much of yours through dance on social media. What role do creativity and choreography play in your life?

        I speak my mind through movement without words, and hopefully, that resonates with [people] and they are left feeling inspired. I put a lot of my own cultural experiences into my work which has helped me grow into my authentic self. Someone once asked me, “In two words, how would you describe your identity?” I struggled because I couldn’t decide what words to use. Should I say “proud,” “artist,” “joyful” or “happy”? What words [capture] my identity the most? After giving it a lot of thought, I realized that my identity is constantly changing. There’s no set identity because I go through so much every day that affects the way I think and live. In the end, I decided to go with “constantly changing.” My choreography and creativity are part of my identity, [meaning] that these two things are constantly changing too. They are not limited by anything and neither am I, which is a beautiful thing to realize and live by.

          Get to Know Six Hispanic Voices Honoring Their Heritage | Off The Cuff (8)

          Mariah Santiago, Content Creator of Salvadorian and Puerto Rican heritage

          GenZ is at the forefront of breaking down barriers, with social media serving as a powerful vehicle. How has your journey as a multicultural creator in the fashion space allowed you to showcase who you are?

          I have always balanced my multicultural heritage. My family has adopted American traditions but we have kept our Salvadorian and Puerto Rican ones. During Christmas time my family always makes panes de pollo, which are Salvadorian chicken sandwiches. My grandma will also make ponche navideño, which is a hot punch similar to a cider made from apples, pears, oranges and cinnamon. And when it comes to music, for as long as I can remember, I would wake up to the sound of my grandpa playing Spanish music on the radio downstairs every Saturday. I grew up listening to cumbias, rancheras, bachata, salsa and reggaeton.

          Although I have lived with my mother all of my life, several times a year I visit my grandparents and my aunts on my father's side. Here is where I learned to appreciate my Puerto Rican heritage. My grandma always makes my favorite dishes when I visit one being, chuletas con arroz y habichuelas. Both sides of my family have always been very family oriented and we do everything together. If someone isn't at our house, we are at theirs eating, laughing and enjoying time together.

          My journey as a multicultural Latin creator in the fashion space has allowed me to showcase who I am because growing up I rarely got to see women who looked like me. The typical beauty standard was always women with long straight hair. As a Latina woman with curly hair, I learned to accept and appreciate my curls the older I got. I am happy to say that showcasing who I am on my social media platforms has inspired me to be authentic. We all come in so many different shapes and sizes and each one is beautiful. I am happy that I can inspire others who are like me.

            Get to Know Six Hispanic Voices Honoring Their Heritage | Off The Cuff (9)

            Cuco, Musician of Mexican heritage

            You’ve made a splash on the music scene by weaving together different genres and music influences, often singing in both English and Spanish on your songs. Can you talk about how your culture has influenced the way you craft and create music?

            I grew up around people that were very hard working and always made things happen one way or another. I feel like that type of discipline got transferred over through my music. That dedication to make it happen one way or another.

            Being able to speak English and Spanish and put them into music [came naturally] because I spoke Spanglish to my family. Listening to the nostalgic sounds that my grandparents used to listen to always made me want to create nostalgic music. It made me make music without really thinking about what I was making and I feel like that's how I was able to [blend] a lot of different styles and languages together.

              Get to Know Six Hispanic Voices Honoring Their Heritage | Off The Cuff (10)

              Stay tuned on the @Levis Instagram throughout Hispanic Heritage Month as we dive deeper into the backstories behind these voices.

              • Learn More

              Get to Know Six Hispanic Voices Honoring Their Heritage | Off The Cuff (2024)


              Top Articles
              Latest Posts
              Article information

              Author: Dong Thiel

              Last Updated:

              Views: 6022

              Rating: 4.9 / 5 (79 voted)

              Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

              Author information

              Name: Dong Thiel

              Birthday: 2001-07-14

              Address: 2865 Kasha Unions, West Corrinne, AK 05708-1071

              Phone: +3512198379449

              Job: Design Planner

              Hobby: Graffiti, Foreign language learning, Gambling, Metalworking, Rowing, Sculling, Sewing

              Introduction: My name is Dong Thiel, I am a brainy, happy, tasty, lively, splendid, talented, cooperative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.