Being Latinx in the American South

Did you know that the United States is the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world?

People don’t often realize how the Latinx populations have historically influenced numerous aspects of American culture and how they continue to do so today.  This is particularly true throughout the American South and in North Carolina.  We can see this cultural impact in food, music and even some town names throughout the state.

North Carolina is unique in the sense that it has the fastest-growing Latinx population in the country.  We now have almost 1 million Latinx living in the state out of a total population of 10 million, and this number is expected to continue to grow exponentially.  After the 2016 election, Governor Roy Cooper reinstated the State Office of Hispanic/Latino Affairs after it had been previously abandoned by Governor Pat McCrory. The intent of this position is to have a liaison for Hispanic and Latinx residents of North Carolina at the state level.  

Yet, we don’t often get the chance to celebrate this culture.  Due to a number of socioeconomic and educational barriers, Latinx individuals are among a number of minority groups that continue to be underrepresented at places of higher education, such as UNC.  While the percentage of Latinx students who attend a two or four-year college is increasing, they may feel isolated or subjected to discrimination when they arrive at college.

Latinx workers in the South also deal with workplace inequality.  While Latinx people in North Carolina are statistically more likely to be employed than other demographic groups in the state, they tend to be concentrated in jobs such as construction and agriculture – in fact, North Carolina is the fifth-most populous farmworker state in the US. These statistics also call into question the working conditions of farmworkers throughout the country.  Latinxs in North Carolina are also more likely to live in poverty, at a rate of about 27.4%.

Latinx residents also participate in the local economy through entrepreneurship.  In 2012, Hispanic/Latinx-owned business made up 4.3% of North Carolinian business firms.  This number is also increasing at a faster rate than the overall number of new businesses in the state.

Yet, it is also important to note the Latinx community is more than its economic contributions.  It is a dynamic community of people from different countries and backgrounds throughout Latin America.

 

(The motivation for writing this article came from Dr. DeGuzmán’s talk, “Being Latinx in the South”, that took place on campus last week. During the discussion, she encouraged the audience to draw connections between old and new history.  Latinx people have impacted this region even in pre-colonial times, yet we often don’t realize this due to how we tend to whitewash history.)

Author: Veronica Correa

Achieving Peace and Unity is Easier Done Than Said

You know what’s annoying? Good intentions.

Well that’s not true, good intentions with problematic consequences are annoying. After the elections results, people with various ties, or lack thereof, to the election had some strong opinions. It seemed like anyone and everyone had something to say. Then came the good intentions of people so tired of seeing people talk negatively about politics on their timelines. There was this rhetoric of “hey everyone let’s focus on promoting peace and unity and not this hateful divisive rhetoric.”

Now let’s break this down. On one hand, yes, we should be able to have civil dialogue and be able to converse about differing opinions in a respectful way. On the other hand, you’re asking people to focus on peace and unity when a man who ran a campaign on the opposite of those things just became our president-elect. See how that doesn’t really work?

So, instead of asking for people to be peaceful and unified from the comfort of your home, how about you get a little uncomfortable. Here are some ways to ACTUALLY promote peace and unity instead of tweeting about it. Be the change you want to see in the world right?

1) Participate in a discussion outside of social media.

Social media is a great place to express ideas and exchange dialogue, but in no way is it the best place. You can’t always get the tone of what someone is saying and it is easy to get on the defensive and misunderstand what people are actually saying. After the election, everyone was talking about it, rightfully so. People are going to need a couple of days to “get over” something that will potentially have a huge effect on their lives. Text, call, email, make plans for coffee, whatever and talk to someone you saw was really vocal about their feelings on the election. Talking to each other outside of the Internet will probably work better for you both.

2) Get involved in an organization that promotes unity.

If you want to talk the talk, you also have to walk to walk. Facilitate or even just participate in a  community discussion. If you don’t have anything to add to the conversation, at least act as a mediator to make sure things to get too heated. And outside of dialogue, get involved in organizations that are committed to fixing these issues in the first place. Peace and unity doesn’t come from simply getting along, it comes from actually understanding each other and the systems in place that create the issues we talk about in the first place.

3) Understand that peace and unity doesn’t always come from peace and unity.

People argue and disagree, that’s okay. Not everyone has to get along all the time. Would it be nice if we did? Yes. But we all know life doesn’t work like that. It’s beneficial for people to disagree and critique each others arguments in order to come up with a solution for everyone. How can we truly solve the problem if we just stop at addressing it and not addressing why people feel it’s a problem?

4) Have a discussion with the intent to seek peace and unity.

The most concerning thing about when people asking for peace and unity is that they are expecting for any conversation where people don’t agree to end up way too confrontational. Sometimes you have to be the bigger person and have a conversation where you don’t simply attack every point they bring up. If you go into the conversation wanting to listen, clarify if you have questions, then present your perspective, it will create a healthier way to discuss. Wanting peace and unity isn’t stepping away when people start to get confrontational, it’s redirecting the conversation and calling them out on it when it happens. It’s okay to want peace when discussing, but it’s also okay to walk away from that conversation when it is becoming more harmful than productive.

It’s okay to want peace and unity and those are obviously good traits to have when having a conversation, but we also need to be realistic. When you’re asking for unity are you really asking for people to talk so they can learn from each other? Or are you asking for people to be censored rather than challenge each other’s ideas?

Do You Even Know How To News?

November 13, 2015.   I remember getting the BBC News alert on my phone telling me that Paris had just been bombed. My mother called me to make sure I was watching the news (admittedly I am too cheap to pay for cable so I was live streaming the BBC special coverage), my roommate had no idea anything had happened, I was texting any of my friends that have interests in international relations or terrorism to make sure they knew what was going on.  Soon it was everywhere.  “Stand with Paris” became a trending topic on Facebook and everyone was changing his or her profile pictures.  It was like acknowledgement of the terror attack was the fashionable thing to do.  If someone didn’t change their picture they were obviously in support of ISIS, right? Continue reading “Do You Even Know How To News?”