Culture

Latino Muslims Are Talking About Their Experience At The Intersection Of Latino And Muslim

Latinos are one of the fastest growing segments within the Muslim community. As the U.S. Latino population is on the rise as the nation’s largest minority so is the number of Latino Muslims. Yet many don’t acknowledge or are aware of this growing demographic in U.S and the conversation surrounding how these two identities intersect tends to be overlooked. That’s why last year PEN America took to Twitter to begin dialogue with users to discuss their identities and began this long overdue conversation. As Ramadan begins, we want to revisit this conversation and ask everyone to get involved.

Twitter users created #LatinxRamadan to spread awareness of the common struggles of Latinx Muslims.

For many in the intersectional community, the hashtag created a place to talk and experience the deep layers of being Latinx and Muslim. What better time to do that than during Ramadan.

Some people shared about the difficulty of being Latinx in the Muslim community.

People who live at intersections of different identities can have a hard time fitting in with either community. By having this intersectional conversation, the community is able to break down the walls and grow into their own space.

One of the many traditions of Ramadan consists of fasting from dawn till dusk and following with a community meal known as Iftar, used to break their fast together.

People shared some of the various meals that they break fast with showing the intersectionality between Latino and Muslim culture. Last year activists Rida Hamida and Benjamin Vazquez came up with the idea of bringing taco trucks to mosques all over Orange County, California in an attempt to help bridge the divide between the Latino and Muslim communities. The event was called #TacoTrucksAtEveryMosque which included a food truck that served halal food.

 Fasting during Ramadan means no eating and no drinking, not even water.

Not only is is tough to be Latinx in the Muslim community, according to some tweets, it can be just as challenging to be Muslim in the Latino community.

Pen America asked people how they integrate Latino culture into their Ramadan experience.

Whether it is through language, food, or family tradition, these people have fully developed their own way of celebrating the sacred holiday.

This year, Ramadan is from Tuesday, May 15 to Thursday, June 14.

For 30 days, Muslims will fast every day from sunrise to sunset in observance of the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.

Happy Ramadan, everyone.

How do you celebrate Ramadan?


READ: Latinos And Muslims Are Having Cross-Cultural Exchanges During Ramadan Thanks To Halal Tacos

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Latino Couple Looking To Buy A Home Found A Clause That Said They Needed To Be “Wholly Of The White Caucasian Race”

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Latino Couple Looking To Buy A Home Found A Clause That Said They Needed To Be “Wholly Of The White Caucasian Race”

@1Firstfruit / Twitter

Amid recent conversations about the benefits of affinity housing, the topic of housing discrimination remains relevant as ever. The Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination against tenants based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and family status—and while this legislation aims to protect people all over the country, it doesn’t keep discrimination completely at bay. For a Latinx couple seeking to buy a home in Stockton, California, this reality became uncomfortably clear when they saw their Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions (CC&R), a document that outlines the necessary requirements to inhabit a property.

The CC&R for Yolanda Romero and Esai Manzo’s new home claimed that “no persons other than those wholly of the white Caucasian race shall use, occupy or reside upon any part of or within any building located on the above described real property, except servants or domestics of another race employed by or domiciled with a white Caucasian owner or tenant.” Additionally, according to the document, no person who was not “wholly of the white Caucasian” race could purchase the house. So, naturally, the couple second-guessed whether they should move forward with the contract—not because they don’t identify as “Caucasian,” but because they were concerned that their neighbors willingly signed documents with comparable clauses.

It made us second guess our offer,” said Romero. “We were concerned that people in the neighborhood might have signed documents with similar statements.”

credit: NBCNews.com

Before signing the document, the couple consulted their agent to determine whether this stipulation was actually legal. It turns out that the clause dated back to 1947, and racially restrictive housing covenants were outlawed in 1948 as a result of that year’s Shelley vs. Kraemer Supreme Court case. “People worry that it’s still enforceable, and even though it’s not, covenants like these hold symbolic meaning,” Dean of the Cornell University Law School, Eduardo Peñalver, told NBC News. “They can indicate whether someone feels like they’re welcome in a community and serve as a reminder of how pervasive housing discrimination was.”

And according to Peñalver, the Fair Housing Act technically outlaws covenants like the one the couple encountered in their CC&R. So why hadn’t this racially restrictive language been omitted from the document long before Romero and Manzo came into the picture?

We’ve inherited a segregated residential landscape that’s the result of explicit racial discrimination,” Peñalver said. “Though racial discrimination in housing has been outlawed, it manifests itself in more subtle forms and perpetuates the wealth gap and economic inequality.”

A 2012 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development study revealed that Latinx folks seeking to rent learned about 13 percent fewer homes than equally qualified whites; black people learned about 11 percent fewer homes than equally qualified whites; and Asians learned about 10 percent fewer homes than equally qualified whites. When purchasing property, there was no distinguishable difference between Latinx and white buyers, though this was not the case for black and Asian populations, who were shown nearly 18 percent fewer properties than potential white buyers. And the Latinx home ownership numbers have grown immensely in the past several years.

The 2017 State of Hispanic Ownership report confirms that more than 7 million people of Hispanic/Latinx descent owned houses that year—a number 44 times greater than 2016’s metric.

 

credit: Getty Images

The report cites expansion into areas with high Latinx populations as a source of this extreme growth, though it also highlights certain challenges to Latinx home ownership, from lack of affordable housing to “extreme uncertainty over immigration.” 51% percent of Hispanics believe the economy is on the wrong track, and 56% think it would be difficult to get a home mortgage today, but 88% indicate that they are more likely to own a home in the future than to rent—all of which are statistics that support further growth in the realm of Latinx home ownership.

Yet the issue of subversive housing discrimination remains. Many states use CC&Rs, which are officially recorded and filed with the state, and these documents often include outdated and questionable language. Because these covenants are part of the property records, it can be legally challenging to eliminate them entirely—but Peñalver encourages prospective buyers to file a statement with a county recorder or homeowners association (HOA) if they encounter similar clauses in their paperwork. However, this can prove unnecessarily difficult; in the case of Romero and Manzo’s property, the home does not belong to an HOA, so they would have to obtain “unanimous consent of homeowners in the community signing off on a new set of CC&Rs omitting the offensive language.” Even then, the “wholly of the white Caucasian race” clauses would remain in their property records, though the language would be removed from the revised CC&R document.

In the end, the couple proceeded with the purchase of this property, adding to the ever-growing numbers of Latinx homeowners across the U.S. Yet they remain a bit shocked by the whole process, and remind new homebuyers to always read the fine print.

This Comic Proves That The Great Debate On The Word ‘Latinx’ Rages On

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This Comic Proves That The Great Debate On The Word ‘Latinx’ Rages On

Terry Blas / Instagram

There is much debate about whether we should use Latino or Latinx. Languages tend to evolve over time, especially to account for changes in society. As the world becomes more tolerant it makes sense that we’d try to come up with a new word that includes the sprawling diversity, gender or otherwise, of Latin people. However, nothing last forever, and what was the standard one day might be yesterday’s news.

A recent comic by Mexican-American artist Terry Blas called “You Say Latinx,” has reignited the debate around Latinx vs. Latine. Blas decided to opt for using Latine, but as he notes in his comic, ultimately which word you choose to use is up to you. 

Why do some people use the word Latinx instead of Latino?

Spanish-language is gendered, with nouns ending in an “a” perceived as feminine, and nouns ending in an “o” regarded as masculine. As Raquel Reichard notes in Latina, the language is oft considered sexist with masculine nouns taking preference over feminine ones. Reichard gives the example of seven women being referred to as “Latinas” until a man shows up and suddenly it’s a group of “Latinos.” 

While some have tried to subvert the norm by using “a” instead of “o,” others noted that it simply isn’t inclusive enough. 

“But even these variations fall short, as they exclude the countless people of Latin American descent whose genders fall outside the woman-man binary—those identifying as agender (without a gender), nonbinary (beyond the traditional binary), or gender-fluid (fluctuating genders), among a spectrum of other identities,” Reichard writes.

Enter: Latinx. The term is a way of stripping away the sexism while also including all Latinxs. Added to the Meriam-Webster dictionary in 2018, it is defined as, “a gender-neutral term for Latin Americans, but it has been especially embraced by members of Latin LGBTQ communities as a word to identify themselves as people of Latin descent possessing a gender identity outside the male/female binary.”

However, there’s only one problem: how the heck do you say it? How the heck do you insert an “x” into a bunch of words in casual conversation? 

“The main issue is with flow. You have one term made gender-neutral, but the rest of Spanish’s conjugation isn’t. I try to stick to neutralizing words that refer to people but also am not personally pressed to change all of Spanish’s structure,” Jack Qu’emi Gutiérrez, a nonbinary femme author, told Latina

Illustrator Terry Blas chooses to us Latine instead of Latinx. 

In his comic “You Say Latinx,” Blas recounts how going to a drag show inspired him to start using Latine instead of Latinx. The reason was simple: it’s easier to apply, pronounce, and use. In the comic, he is disarmed by how seamlessly a drag queen on La Mas Drag used Latine and substituted an “e” anywhere an “o” or “a” would go. 

“Bienvenidos a todos,”  was changed to “bienvenides a todes.” Blas described the “e” as rolling off the tongue. 

“I find language, labels and terms interesting,” Blas told Remezcla. “Latinx is a term that I find fascinating and confusing, and I encountered people who didn’t know what it meant.”

Blas believes Latine and “e” are easier to implement into language than Latinx and the “x.”

“I would never tell anyone how to define themselves,” writes Blas in his comic. “Use whatever you like to be more inclusive. But I think I will use ‘e.’ Which means that for me Latinx just might become Latine.” 

How gendered-language hurts expectations for everyone. 

The reason many have opted to use Latinx instead of Latino, is similar to why we say postal worker instead of “mailman.” When we use gendered language it usually reveals what that culture thinks of that gender. Case in point, “mailman” implies we expect all postal workers to be men, which can make it harder for people besides men to get the job. On the flip side, we no longer call the role “stewardess” but rather that of a flight attendant, and that’s to include people besides women. 

Moreover, language doesn’t include the fact that not everyone identifies as a man or a woman, other identities exist and some of the people who have them are Latinx too.   

“When children hear a job title that has a gender mark on it, like an e-s-s ending or an m-a-n ending, and you ask them to draw pictures or talk about who’s doing that job, they will pick the one that matches the gender of the word,” Brigham Young University English professor Delys M. Snyder said. “If we’re going to be fair in opening up the world of work to men and women, and make it possible for everybody, maybe our job titles should reflect that.”

Thus, ridding away with gendered language can make society more equal for everybody involved.