06/20/2014 09:45 am ET Updated Jun 20, 2014

Exploring NYC's Cultural Treasures With A Tour Of El Barrio

Mi Gente...

Lately I have been traveling quite a bit, and it is always fun to explore places we have never been. As my hometown of New York City continues to evolve, things are changing fast and that can be scary if you have personal landmarks you love. I have a sense of urgency to tell stories about the places I have been and what they mean to me.

That said, I have a renewed sense of wanting to explore and revisit my own backyard. I invited two special friends Bryce and Nici to come explore El Barrio with me. The Barrio is such a special place in NYC, with so many stories about our cultural heritage. We walked around and explored the beautiful art of Manny Vega, Jasmine Hernandez and James De La Vega while discussing the inspiration behind these beautiful works. I told stories of the Young Lords and other organizations that serve the community and evoked change in a time of chaos. Stories that need to be passed on.

Spoken word is such a big part of my life, and I was really happy to introduce Julia de Burgos and Reverendo Pedro Pietri to these young minds (who incidentally promised to read some of their work). We talked about the institutions that exist today to keep that legacy alive.

Last but not least, we talked about change... the Barrio (and Barrios all over the world) are changing, our culture is constantly evolving and being remixed. It is up to us to share stories, it is up to us to create visuals, it is up to us to honor our roots. Let's be part of the evolution and prevent erasure from the place we have planted our roots. It starts with us...

Driving thru El Barrio inspires me because I am a student of those who once evoked change in NYC and set the tone for much of what I do today. I encourage each of you to invite some young people to explore personal landmarks that shaped your life.

Want to know more about the Latino history of NYC? Feel free to follow me, @UrbanJibaro on Twitter or visit my website



Contemporary Caribbean Art Exhibit at the Dwyer Cultural Center in Harlem