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Stairwell Teatro 2024

Happy New Year.


Aren’t I a bit late? Not for the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Dragon, which fell on February 10th this year. The Year of the Dragon is associated with good fortune and success, which I wish to all of you, and I hope to have some of that myself.


I’m excited about several projects, and one of them is my Stairwell Teatro 2024. I often receive stories from you, dear readers, that grab your and my attention. Two of you told me about the Sunny (Asuncion) Hostin episode in Finding Your Roots, the PBS Program Henry Louis Gates Jr. hosts on PBS. Another friend passed on a New York Times article about Japan changing its laws to make it easier for people with unusual or atypical Japanese names to change to more traditional ones. Similarly, I listened to a bilingual French podcast about a family discovering a box of documents in their grandparents’ home the year after their grandfather died, where they learned their ancestors had changed their names and hidden their Jewish identity to protect themselves as the Nazis were gaining power in Europe. They created new identities as a survival mechanism. This family and others similarly situated had advocated a change to French laws that would remove some of the many hurdles to reclaiming their family names.


I’ve also been working on episodes about the words used to identify our community and the strong opinions about the terms Hispanic, Latino, Latin@, Latinx, and Latine. Stay tuned. And please, keep those stories and articles coming. I love hearing from you.


I look forward to taping and releasing Stairwell Teatro Episodes throughout 2024, and I will share them in a newsletter with several episodes bundled together. Those of you on Facebook and Instagram can see them as they are released.  I had a busy travel and work schedule in December, January, and early February, and I got slightly behind. I last sent out Episode 13, Amarilla, in mid-December 2023. Since then, I’ve produced five additional episodes.


Here's a rundown on the Episodes included in this newsletter/blog.


Did you know that when you apply for US Citizenship, the application gives you the option of changing your name?


Are our names interchangeable? When I give my name as Guadalupe to a barista, might they be hearing Juanita or Maria, or another stereotypically Latina name?


When I spent several weeks in Cuba, pre-pandemic, I met many people with names that started with the letter Y, which were names I’d never heard before. I also met people with recognizable Russian first names. What's the story behind that?       


Since the episodes are typically under two minutes, you can watch the entire playlist in an hour+ by clicking here, or you can pick and choose and spend a tiny morsel of time watching just those that pique your interest. I hope these episodes are entertaining and thought-provoking. I appreciate hearing your responses to these episodes, and I love getting your story ideas.


Year of the Dragon

One of the things I especially love about the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live, is being in the presence of people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds and learning from my friends about their family’s histories and traditions. Lunar New Year celebrations last several days and are about gathering with family (often traveling back to one’s hometown), sharing food, and honoring ancestors. It is always so much fun to be invited by friends to a Chinese New Year’s dinner with traditional hot pot and to hear about their family gatherings over the years.

A few more tidbits about the Lunar New Year: this Time Magazine article, notes that it is observed in many parts of the Asian World and celebrated by over two billion people across the globe in China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the United States, and other countries. According to the Chinese zodiac signs, each year in the lunar cycle is associated with a particular animal. This is a 12-year cycle, and each year is associated with a different creature: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. The cycle repeats itself. All of them are real except for the mythological dragon. The dragon symbolizes strength and power and is associated with good fortune, wisdom, success, protection, and masculinity.

Your Chinese Zodiac sign is determined by the Lunar New Year in which you were born. The start of the Chinese New Year varies from year to year. It is not calendar year-based. If you want to know your Zodiac sign, please note the birth years below. But, for those with mid-January to February birthdays, you'll need to check when the Lunar New Year started on the year you were born to accurately determine your Zodiac Animal.

I am a Rabbit, and these are the typical characteristics of people born in the Year of the Rabbit. Please note, when you look up your year, you'll find information about Strengths and Weaknesses (you'll note I'm only sharing strengths).


May the Year of the Dragon be filled with good health and good fortune for you and your family.

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