For me and my family music plays a big role in our lives. My dad is always singing songs he just made up, and my mom is always having me remind her how Spotify works so she can search for her Cumbia playlist.
For me I was all over the place, hip-hop, punk, metal, more recently Jazz, but one of my favorite lyricists Eyedea said in one of his songs, “The counter culture can’t count” and I always took that as people were trying so hard to be different that they missed out on things going on around them, or didn’t pay attention to more important things like doing simple mathematics.
But the point of this isn’t my own personal inability to do long division in a timely manner, but more so about my counter culture experience. As a kid growing up to a Mexican immigrant father and a Nicaraguan immigrant mother the culture in my home was a very typical Latino experience. Among other things there was always music playing inside the house. Music on the week days when my mom was doing chores and music playing outside on the weekends when my dad was doing his yard work around the house.
I, a young Latino kid, went to school where a majority of my classmates were white, and then as the rise of immigration of latinos into California and more specifically the bay area happened my classmates started to look a lot like me. So by about 4th or 5th grade I had already decided that I was going to be someone who wanted to be different. I had a few white friends who put me on to some rock and pop punk music like Blink 182, and for me hearing something that wasnt Celia Cruz, or Vicente Fernandez was refreshing.
It was different and it wasn’t something that my parents would like, so I was down. To be clear I was all about pleasing my parents. But here I could make a choice and say no, I don’t want to hear Los Tigres del Norte today papa, I wanna listen to The Misifts.
Long story short I end up in college where the first obvious difference is that not many people here look like me. And every day that passes by the less people that I could relate to as far as family or home experiences go. It got to the point where every time I saw someone that could possibly be Latino I nodded at them in hopes that they understood that if something were to go down, it was us versus them.
I guess the point of this is that when I was a kid, the culture that I was countering was that of my parents, I kinda wanted to get away from that because it kinda made me feel the kind of different that was a lonesome uncomfortable different, so I choose to be a colorful kind of different. And now that difference isnt necessarily existent because at first glance I am automatically the “other kind of different”, you know the uncomfortable one.
Now that I am older, I realize that in my attempts to counter I too forgot how to count, and take account of the kind of things my parents had to go through to allow me to make those choices, as shallow as picking my own music, but also their attempts to let me into their world of music whether it was intentional or not.
Now I am finding that the culture that I am countering is the one that I tried to be a part of as a kid and I am embracing the colorfulness that I guess I never noticed about my family and their musical tastes. I’m embracing the musical flavor that I tried to get away from. I’m still reminding my mom how to use Spotify, but now I don’t put headphones on to listen to something else. I’m listening to her tell me stories of when she first heard a song, or how her mother loved that artist. And really, that’s the part of the culture that counts, the memories.