Women with 2 college degrees and a Masters graduate degree rarely grow up in poverty with only one parent speaking English. But, Violet Canales, a first generation Latina, set that as her goal from childhood. Now she has even bigger ideas. This synopsis of Episode 56, ‘First Gen Vibes – Living Your Most Authentic Self with Violet Canales’, shares her story and dedication to building a Latina community for all.
Are You Latina?
In the 90’s, East L.A. was considered a Mexican neighborhood, with few other Latino representations. For a young girl, with a Mexican-American mother, this should have been the perfect scenario for acceptance. Instead, Violet Canales, was told she was too white to be Latina.
Yet, Violet is a first generation Latina whose father escaped El Salvador’s horrific Civil War, fueled by the U.S. Opting out of speaking English, Violet’s father provided little detail on what it meant to be Salvadoran. So, Violet had only one option left: become the White girls that everyone labeled her as.
Determined to leave poverty behind and “write a new story for the women” in her family, Violet earned 2 college degrees and a graduate Masters degree. But these were achieved in the safety of her comfort zone, Southern California. Destined for change, Violet left for “a few months” to New York City and never went home.
Discovering More Than Acceptance
Violet had never experienced the life she discovered in New York. As she stated, “my whole world exploded!” She turned towards tech to ensure financial security for staying in the City. But, for Violet, something was still missing; “her people”.
Still struggling with identity, Violet faced corporate world’s ignorance of diversity. So, she set out to make friends amongst the representation of the City, from Dominicans to Chileans and beyond. Violet found more than a large, diverse community of Latinas. She found acceptance.
When listening to Violet, one gets the feeling they are listening to Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. The passion in her voice, the determination to make change and the insistence that her next career must feed her spirit and her soul all resonate AOC’s strength.
It’s an obvious choice for Violet with her Public Policy degree. More so, it’s her humble spirit that could create a loyal constituency. When asked if she sits a moment in the glory of her epic rise, Violet’s fiery demeanor quiets down, pondering the question. Shyly, she admits that she “gives herself a break” on a hard day.
From Latina to White to Latina for Good (literally)
At this point in the episode, listeners may want to reach out and offer a soothing hug. It’s difficult to listen to her be so humble after hearing her journey out of poverty, “not having anyone, know anyone, have any role models”.
She’s all that and more, and yet still gets spooked at the darkening hallway in her apartment. Laughing, I ask about scary childhood bedtime stories and it’s like gasoline on a fire. Violet lights up, her laughter filling the room. Her innate joy of being Latina can’t be suppressed. She is home at last.
Although she misses La Monarca Cafe and Bakery in Boyle Heights for her cafecito, Violet is not going back anytime soon. Even though NYC is her place now, her next address could easily be Washington D.C. At least she has a role model there!
Listen to Episode 56 to experience all the feels, from sadness, to anger to bust out laughter with Violet Canales. Plus, hear the “bedtime” stories that Latino parents tell their kids at night. You wonder why we don’t like the dark…