Culture

The Smithsonian Is Opening The First Permanent Latino Gallery In 2021 Highlighting Latino Contributions

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The Smithsonian Institution is one of the most known museum and research centers celebrating numerous American achievements from all walks of life. Started in 1997, the Smithsonian Latino Center has never had a physical location. According to the website, the center has worked collaboratively with other Smithsonian properties to include temporary exhibits featuring American Latinos and their achievements. That’s all about to change with the announcement that the Smithsonian will open its first gallery focused on the U.S. Latino experience, in the National Museum of American History.

The Molina Family Latino Gallery is set to debut in 2021 and will focus on sharing the stories of Latino communities in the U.S.

The new gallery space will explore Latino identities and include bilingual exhibits exploring the history and contributions of American Latinos. The first exhibit will be called “Making Home: Latino Stories of Community and Belonging,” and highlight the various contributions of Latino cultures in North America and their influence around the world. This will mark the first time a permanent gallery space will be offered at the National Museum of American History highlighting the Latino community.

A $10 million donation toward the gallery was made from members of the Molina family, who dedicated the donation in memory of their father, Dr. C. David Molina, the founder of Molina Healthcare.

The gallery will offer visitors many interactive pieces, including a podcast and a forthcoming app.

The gallery will have a distance-learning component where people can learn about Latino history from anywhere through podcasts, a mobile broadcast and a Smithsonian Latino Center app. These are all efforts by the Smithsonian to increase its Latino representation. They will include recent highlights of Latino artists and social issues that affect Latino-Americans.

“Latino history is American history, and we have a responsibility to reflect the stories and experiences of Latinas and Latinos in the U.S. today,” Eduardo Díaz, director of the Smithsonian Latino Center, said in a statement. “We’ll continue to do that not only through this future gallery, but also through our diverse programmatic, educational and professional development programs, as well as our work to unlock and increase access to Latino content across the Institution.”

The gallery opens up more possibilities to one day have a new museum dedicated to Latinos as a whole.

Many Latino advocates celebrated the announcement of the gallery in hopes that it one day leads to a museum dedicated to Latinos. For years, there’s been a call to create a Latino Museum on the National Mall. Friends of the American Latino Museum (FALM), a non-profit organization, has been key in bringing attention to this. Estuardo Rodriguez, executive director of FALM, says that the African American Museum took a similar route.

“It’s wonderful. This is exactly the road the African American Museum took. They also had a gallery in the American History Museum,” Rodriguez told the Washington Post. “We run on parallel tracks, and we will point to that in our efforts to fundraise and to pass legislation for [a museum].”

The gallery is a huge step forward in terms of not only Latino representation but the acknowledgment of Latino contributions in American history. Diaz hopes the gallery changes perspectives on what it truly means to a Latino in America.

“We want to expand people’s notions of what it means to be Latino,” Diaz said at the ceremonial signing of the donor agreement. “It’s not this homogenous experience. It depends on where you’re from. We want to show how we came together under this big label.”


READ: A New Museum Dedicated To Mexican Food Is Opening In Los Angeles Next Spring

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The Daily Show’ Tried To Use The Term ‘Latinx’ And People Weren’t Happy About It

Entertainment

The Daily Show’ Tried To Use The Term ‘Latinx’ And People Weren’t Happy About It

Latino, Latinx, or Hispanic? You’ve heard all of those terms before, and you have, of course, also heard the arguments that come over their use. Nowadays, many younger generations of Latinx folks decide to opt for “Latinx” because it’s more inclusive but there are still others who haven’t fully accepted or adopted this term in their daily lives. 

Many people who are of Mexican, Argentinian, Cuban, Guatemalan, Honduran, Nicaraguan (and many other countries!) descent, have a difficult time coming agreeing to one term that everyone can identify as. 

But that’s the point of having different opinions and experiences, so it’s important to learn more about one’s history and also be open to another’s point of view.

Reddit user u/Aldopeck posted a status on the thread r/stupidpol posted about the Daily Show trying to use “Latinx to seem woke to Spanish people. All the Latinos in the comment section react saying ‘Latinx’ is a bullshit term that’s never going to be a thing.” 

Many people have also tried to make sense of whether Latino, Latinx or Hispanic is any “better” or “more inclusive” of a term. For example, last year, Remezcla published an extensive article on a brief but thorough history of how these words originated.  “Through my conversations and research into the background of these terms, it became clear that the origins and evolution of what we call ourselves is as complicated as our history in the United States,” writes Yara Simón for Remezcla on the topic

“We’ll probably never find a perfect term, especially as some prefer to identify as their (or their family’s) country of origin.”

Arturo Castro went on the Daily Show last month to talk to Trevor Noah about his latest sketch show “Alternatino.” In the segment, Castro spoke to Noah about how difficult it was to juggle his characters from “Broad City” and “Narcos.” But he also talked about his heritage and how his experiences as a Latino influence his work. 

“You know, being Latino, everybody sort of expects you to be, like, suave, you know, and really like spicy food or be really good at dancing,” Castro said. “I really like matcha, you know?”

But regardless of his matcha-loving ways, Castro is very intentional about uplifting his community (he’s from Guatemala) and isn’t one to shy away from major issues affecting people of color through his Comedy Central sketch show, “Alternatino.” For example, earlier this week, Comedy Central aired an episode of “Alternatino” that includes a mass-shooting-themed sketch

In “The Daily Show” interview, Noah then asks Castro, “what do you think some of the biggest misconceptions are about being Latino that you’ve come across in America that you try and debunk in the show?” 

To which Castro replies, “Well, you know, there’s this thing about being ultra-violent or being lazy. Like, you know, the most common misconception is about Latino immigrants being lazy. Where I find Latino immigrants to be some of the hardest-working people in the world, right?” 

While Arturo Castro dropped some gems during the interview, notice that his quotes all referred to his community and himself as “Latino”? Well, when The Daily Show shared a promotional post on Facebook about the interview, they used the term “Latinx” and people were not happy about it.

“Arturo Castro pokes fun at Latinx stereotypes on his new sketch series, “Alternatino,” the social team for The Daily Show wrote on Facebook. 

It didn’t take long for the backlash to pop up in the comments section.

Users were quick to comment on the use of the term Latinx, and criticize the show for inserting the word into Castro’s quote.

While the argument about whether one should use Latino, Latinx, or Hispanic is still up in the air, people can’t help but have opinions about it. 

A reddit user argued that “you can’t really say [Latinx] in Spanish. I mean you can ‘Latin-equis’ but nobody does. The whole thing just reeks of white liberal wokeness being imposed on a community of smelly unfortunates. If they’re so concerned with gendered languages why don’t they do the same thing with French, Italian, Hebrew, Arabic, etc.?” 

But other Facebook commenters weren’t going to let people off the hook for criticizing The Daily Show’s use of “Latinx” in their promotion. 

As one Facebook user pointed out, “not everyone identifies as binary male/female…hence the use of Latinx…it is for people who can’t or won’t identify as either. If you don’t like Latinx then don’t use it…see how simple that was?”

So, what’s it going to be? Latinx, Latino, or Hispanic? This social outrage also begs the question, if someone didn’t refer to themselves as “Latinx,” then should you omit the use of that term completely? Should brands be thinking harder about this before they hit post? 

You tell us! Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Wonder Woman Isn’t The Only Latina Superhero To Be On Display At The Smithsonian In Washington

Things That Matter

Wonder Woman Isn’t The Only Latina Superhero To Be On Display At The Smithsonian In Washington

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Historical artifacts from the 1869 Transcontinental Railroad and posters of the women’s suffrage that date back to 1832 that are on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington. Among these historical and important artifacts is the costume of La Borinqueña, an Afro-Puerto Rican superhero.

The costume of La Borinqueña, created by comic book writer Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, is featured in the “Superheroes” exhibition at the Smithsonian.

Courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

This significant addition to the exhibit comes just three years since Miranda-Rodriguez debuted La Borinqueña in the first graphic novel.

“La Borinqueña debuted in 2016 at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City,” Miranda-Rodriguez said in a statement. “Throughout the last three years, her overwhelmingly positive reception has provided me the platform to address the humanitarian crisis that grew out of the island of Puerto Rico’s economic crisis. For a year and a half, La Borinqueña became recognized and celebrated by mainstream media outlets and cultural institutions positioning me as a prominent voice for Puerto Ricans.”

Miranda-Rodriguez said that after Hurricane Maria, La Borinqueña became an example of pride and determination.

Courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

Miranda-Rodriguez adds that through the La Borinqueña brand, they’ve been able to raise a quarter of a million dollars from the sales of Ricanstruction and La Borinqueña Grants Program.

“Via this program, we have awarded grants to local grassroots organizations in Puerto Rico, further showing the world that our hero truly embodies a heroic ideal,” Miranda-Rodriguez said. “Fight for justice, work for justice. In a time where popular culture centers around superhero storylines that take characters to fight in intergalactic wars, La Borinqueña shines a light on the battles that we all need to fight here in our country.”

The costume of La Borinqueña is featured right next to Wonder Woman.

Courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

“The fact that both of these costumes were worn by Latinas (Wonder Woman’s Linda Carter is Mexican American) is fitting with the Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative, #BecauseOfHerStory in which we are highlighting the many ways women play a role in our culture,” Melinda Machado, director of the Smithsonian’s Office of Communications and Marketing, told NBC News.

The exhibition can be seen now through Nov. 12, and people are praising the addition of La Borinqueña.

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“Having ‘La Borinqueña,’ a Puerto Rican superhero, at the Smithsonian is a source of pride,” Flavio Cumpiano said. “It’s a proven fact that children feel empowered to shoot for greatness when they see real-life people who look like themselves achieve greatness, whether it is a Barack Obama or a Sonia Sotomayor. The same is true for superheroes or action figures or characters.”

Click here for more information on the show.

READ: ‘La Borinqueña’ Is The Afro-Latina Superhero The Comic Book World Has Been Missing

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