This July 28, Peruvians all across the world will celebrate their patria’s 198th anniversary. Outside of a key few places in the United States (New Jersey, California, Florida, New York, and Virginia are home to the biggest Peruvian diaspora), our culture has a small presence in this country. In 2013, Peruvians were the 11th largest Latino group and accounted for a mere 1.2 percent of the total Latino population.
But our pride in our country is second to none. That’s why this Peruvian Independence Day, I wanted to celebrate and highlight the legacies of Peruanas making moves across the US. These eight women share their experience about belonging, heritage, and how they celebrate their Peruvian cultura and comunidad.
Here’s what they had to say.
Laura Escalante Ortiz, 27
Photo courtesy of Laura Escalante Ortiz
Laura is a youth counselor and blogger from Barranco, Lima. As an Afro-Peruana living in Denver, Colorado, her life was about moving and blending between communities – a mix of Peruvian, Mexican, and Black culture. She stays connected to nuestro Perú querido by connecting with other Black women in the workplace, dancing in a salsa group, and staying up-to-date with música tonera in the country. Each 28 de Julio is a reflective time for Laura as it marks when she immigrated to the US, when she bought her first home, and the legacy she’s creating for her family.
Shila Farahani, 26
Photo by Andrea Macias-Jimenez. Courtesy of Shila Farahani
Peruvian-Iranian Buzzfeed video producer Shila is a Texan with strong ties to her heritage. Shila honors her ancestors and celebrates her culture by singing and dancing to Huaynos and cooking her abuelita’s famous aji de gallina. For Shila, Peruanidad is vals criollos, legacy, love, and light. As Shila puts it, “Peruanidad is a love affair between breathtaking landscapes like Machu Picchu, Madre De Dios, Paracas, Líneas de Nazca, Huánuco and the spirit of kind-hearted people.”
She and her family celebrate independence day by wearing blanquirrojo, and of course, the pachamanca in the backyard.
Photo courtesy of Alice Regalado
Born in Gainesville, Florida and raised in Austin, Texas, Alice Regalado, like many of us, proudly claims her Peruvian identity in a predominately non-Peruvian community. As a US-born Peruana, she admits, “I may not know el hymno nacional by heart, but I listen to Eva Ayllon while cleaning and I have el Señor de los Milagros in my home.”
For Alice, it’s important to intentionally incorporate Peruvian culture into her life as a reminder of where her ancestry lies. On Perú’s Independence Day, she has a parillada and observes the holiday with pride.
Natalie Cardenas, 23
Photo courtesy of Natalie Cardenas
Miami-born, NY resident Natalie is a journalist with costeño and amazonic roots. During her undergraduate career, she learned to embrace not only her latinidad, but also her peruanidad. Growing up, Sundays meant phone calls to los abuelitos, Peruvian cooking, and fútbol. For Natalie, Peruanidad means embracing her family’s Indigenous roots, learning about underrepresented Indigenous communities, and remembering her connection to Quechua through her bisabuelos.
For Peruvian Independence Day, Natalie has lunch with friends and family, and they all wear escarapelas peruanas.
Gloria Campos, 25
Photo courtesy of Gloria Campos
Gloria is a grant writer and organizer living in Southeast Los Angeles from Lima, Peru. Gloria’s mami exposed her to art and music, introducing her Victoria Santa Cruz and Peru Negro at a young age. Now, she explores and finds music online and intentionally learns about Incan history. For Gloria, being Peruvian means creating a home out of sharing food, music, laughs, but it also about understanding the complexities of a home that is hurting while also filled with resistance, magic and beauty.
“To me being Peruvian is also understanding how my present moment is intertwined with politics and migration,” she says. Although Gloria doesn’t celebrate 28 de Julio, she does hope to celebrate fiestas in Peru one day.
Connie Chavez, 27
Photo by Ojos Nebulosos. Courtesy of Connie Chavez
Self-taught filmmaker, photographer and social justice mami, Connie is a proud Perucha living in NYC. This Limeña boldy creates space for other Peruvians by intentionally sharing our history, spreading joy, and reminding our comunidad of the internal healing we have yet to do. Like many Peruvians, she and her family immigrated to the US in the ’90s during el tiempo del Sendero Luminoso and finding community was difficult. Her peruanidad is where she draws her strength, resilience, and power from.
When asked if she celebrates 28 de Julio she exclaims, “Claro que si, Causa! It’s the culmination of pride and liberation for my people.”
Lucia La Rosa, 27
Photo courtesy of Lucia La Rosa
Lucia La Rosa – a beauty influencer, entrepreneur, and stunning limeña – is all about building community and helping women feel confident in their skin. From Lima to Cali and now Miami, this Peruana says her culture means “amor, familia, comida, fiesta, y amigos que nos queremos un montón.” For 28 de julio, she celebrates her patria by eating ceviche and spending time with Peruvian friends.
Gianella Ghiglino, 22
Photo by Gabriel Danny Reyes. Courtesy of Gianella Ghiglino
Gianella is a recent graduate from California State University, Northridge, political commentator, and overall IG Peruvian Princesa. When immigrating to the US, Gianella struggled to find belonging, community, and connections.
Currently residing in the San Fernando Valley, she’s excited for the recent boom of Peruvian restaurants – a reminder of home, for many Peruvians en el extranjero. Finding other Peruanas on social media has meant instantly connecting and gushing over their origins and pride. “I can be proud of this,” Gianella beams. For Peruvian Independence Day, she’ll celebrate with family over some ceviche de pescado and Inka Kola.