The Latinx experience isn’t monolithic. We all have distinct experiences as children of Latin-American immigrants, and yet we are a community that shares an abundance of heartfelt similarities. Throughout my life, my family used comedy to express our pain. We used insults and self-deprecating language to show our love and to — believe it or not — uplift one another. I say all of this because through Cristela Alonzo’s voice and comedy, I see myself.
As a Latina, I feel virtually non-existant — which is why, now more than ever, Alonzo has become a critical voice in the national discourse to uplift our communities and represent them positively. I must admit, however, I’m late to the Cristela Alonzo party. I had never watched her self-titled primetime sitcom, which ended in 2015. I did, however, watch her 2017 comedy special on Netflix, “Lower Classy,” and was instantly blown away.
This week, the 40-year-old is launching a nation-wide comedy tour and releasing her memoir Music to My Years: A Mixtape Memoir of Growing Up and Standing Up. The book, as the title infers, is like a mixtape of sorts.
Each chapter in Alonzo’s memoir is cataloged like a song including Backstreet Boys’ “Shape of My Heart,” Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day,” Ricky Martin’s “Living La Vida Loca,” and Selena’s “Dreaming of You” among others.
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Excerpt from my book (out in one week): There is a strong connection I have for #SelenaQuintanilla, long after her death. I talk about why she made such an impact on me and that was because she was the "average Mexican-American girl" that wasn't so average.💜 #MusicToMyYears
Like her comedic material, the memoir touches on a lot of her struggles that she and her family faced, including homelessness and being raised by a single mom. However, her book dives deeper into the everyday hardships of being Latinx in America. Alonzo writes in length about her mom — who passed away in 2002 — including how she, like many of us can relate to, had to be her mom’s translator.
“It was then that I realized I was getting a new responsibility that came with being a bilingual first-generation American,” she writes. “I had to join the ranks of my siblings and serve as a translator for everything my mother needed. It was as if I were having a linguistic quinceañera thrown for me, except that instead of a party, I was handed government paperwork I had to fill out for my mom. IT SUCKED.”
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Excerpt from my book (out in one week): A big part of my ♥️ for #TheGoldenGirls is the depiction of an immigrant story. Sophia is allowed to be a person and not be constantly worried about deportation, etc because she is a white Italian, not a brown Latina. I know, right? 🤯 #MusicToMyYears (available everywhere books are sold)
What I have come to love about Alonzo is not just her take on being a Latina (which is spot-on) but also that she takes her advocacy for Latinx and gives it the attention it needs. The comedian does this through her stand up, through social media, and now in her new book.
Alonzo is a Latinx voice who is sharing with non-Latinx this is what it’s like, this is what is important to us, this is what is hurting us, while at the same time uniting Latinx by saying yes, that happened to me too and look what we can do with our voice.
Click here for more information about her book and tour.