Vol. 11    No. 19
SEPTEMBER 15, 2016
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                            Latino Heritage Month
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!
Yo Soy ...
The Latino Professional Association kicks
off Hispanic Heritage Month with Yo Soy
.
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