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Vol. 11   No. 19
SEPTEMBER 15, 2016
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The Capital City Hues
PO Box 259712
Madison, WI 53725
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UNIQUE HITS
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                             Latino Heritage Month
Yo Soy ...
The Latino Professional Association kicks
off Hispanic Heritage Month with Yo Soy
.
Una Ejecutiva en
Finanzas
Un Artista
Un Administrador
Publico
Una Profesora
Hispanic Heritage Month is a relatively new concept in the United States and in some ways is unique to the U.
S. One could ask, ‘Where are Hispanics from?’ And one could reply the United States — in large part due to U.
S. Census categories — because everywhere else in the world, people are referred to by their native
countries i.e. Colombians, Mexicans and Cubans.

Hispanic Heritage Month was expanded from Hispanic Heritage Week in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan. It
goes to show that Latinos were not always scorned by the Republican Party. It was established as
September 15 – October 15 because the independence days of the following countries fall within that period:
Belize, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

Now the label used to describe people from Latin America who reside in the United States has been in flux for
the past 15-20 years. While the first term used was Hispanic, at least within my lifetime and awareness, it fell
out of favor during the past 20 years as Latin Americans wanted to not be referred to in a dependent way to
Spain and also wanted to include Brazil, where Portuguese is the first language.

And so, coming from a society whose foundation was patriarchic, the term that took Hispanics’ place was
Latino as the masculine form was used to refer to everyone, male or female. And so the symbol ‘@’ came into
use to refer to male and female people from Latin America. And example would be the UW-Madison Chican@
and Latin@ Studies Program. It has been an expression of gender equality that I have seen used most
consistently in academic/university settings.

And now a new term has started to come to the fore. It was just last month that I attended a press conference
at UNIDOS — at their new offices on Fish Hatchery Road — where the formation of Orgullo Latinx LGBT+ of
Dane County was announced. It represents a new expansion of the term that is used to refer to people from
Latin American countries. Latinx — it has national usage — is a gender neutral term that seems to be less
awkward than using @ and is also inclusive of transgender individuals as well. When I first saw Latinx,
thoughts of Malcolm X seemed to drift through my mind. Latinx was given some force locally when the United
Way of Dane County and members of the Latino Consortium for Action overwhelmingly used the term Latinx.

However, it is certainly in the state of transition or flux. That transition is reflected in the Happenings section
of this issue where different organizations on the UW-Madison campus used all of these terms to refer to their
activities.

My own take is that Latinx will become the predominant term used during the next couple of years with Latino
and Latin@ still used by some folks, similar perhaps to African American becoming the dominant term with
Black still used in some instances.

***
While they are all special, this Latino/x/@ Heritage Month celebration is especially special for us at The
Capital City Hues. Back at the beginning of the summer, Tania Ibarra, the president of the Latino Professionals
Association, approached me about a Latino Heritage Month campaign that she and the members of the LPA
had come up with. It is their #Yo Soy LPA campaign.

Yo Soy is Spanish for I Am and so it is a campaign of identity, of people expressing who they are and by so
doing so, expressing the diversity within the Latinx community.

When I heard what Tania had in mind, I was all on board. Tania identified four Latin@s from diverse
backgrounds, two male and two female, two immigrants and two born in the United States, all four from
different occupational areas. I took their photos and interviewed them and quotes from the interviews and the
photos were used to create giant #Yo Soy LPA posters that were exhibited at an LPA reception held to kick
off Latino Heritage Month on September 14th. The posters were designed by Yuly Osorio an up and coming
graphic artist who owns YM Design Studio.

Also as a part of the campaign, I am writing stories about the four individuals that will appear in the three
Hues editions that fall within Latino Heritage Month. Their photos are on the cover of this edition.

The beauty of the campaign is that Tania chose four individuals who are relatively obscure within and without
the Latino community — as opposed to Latin@s who have received a lot of media attention — although I am
sure they are known within their respective fields. It is their relatively anonymity as well as diversity that
give a lot of power to the #Yo Soy LPA campaign. As I write their stories, I realize that the statements
expressed through their lives are enhanced because I don’t know them or have lost touch with them over
time. I hope everyone will enjoy their stories.

LPA will be posting #Yo Soy LPA stories and videos on their website during Latino Heritage month at www.
lpamadison.org.

***
When I first came to Madison back in 1970, just about the only Latino presence in South Madison was Centro
Guadalupe in the old St. Martin House that was razed a while ago and replaced with the Catholic Multicultural
Center. And perhaps the only Latino or Mexican “food” that was available was the Taco Bell that sat on top of
the hill on S. Park Street.

How things have changed. There are now over six Latino/Mexican restaurants or food outlets on S. Park
Street and perhaps most symbolically, the Taco Bell closed recently, a sign of the times.

Celebrate Latino Heritage Month!