Culture

The City Of Phoenix Is Moving Forward With Plans To Open A Latino Cultural Center

After 17 years of hitting roadblocks and issues with location, Phoenix, Arizona looks like it will finally have its own Latino cultural center. This month, the Phoenix City Council took action on the issue and voted in favor of moving forward with the project that was originally approved for $1.4 million in bond funding by Phoenix voters in 2001. The location of the cultural center is tentatively planned to be at the North Building at Margaret T. Hance Park, near downtown Phoenix. 

While the city is moving forward with plans, there is still disagreement with some about the location of the cultural center and fulfilling the rest of the funding needs. According to the Phoenix New Times, “Organizers would need to raise sufficient funds for North Building renovations by the end of 2023. Current estimates put renovation costs at about $12 million.”

While there is a growing need for a space that represents and shows the visibility of Latinos in Phoenix, the city still has questions about whether this location will fit those needs. 

Phoenix has one of the fastest-growing Latino populations in the country and is expected to surpass 50 percent of the Arizona population by 2020. With a growing demographic, the Latino Cultural Center hopes to be a space that Latino artists can showcase the diversity and impact the population has had in America’s Southwest region. When it comes to programming,  the center would also have an “annual cultural festival” and a “community kitchen,” among other projects. But to accomplish this goal, the city has to fully support and agree on a location that meets these needs. 

As part of a study that was commissioned by the city of Phoenix, it recommends that the Latino Cultural Center be a “visible” presence in downtown Phoenix as well as being “on par and in company” with other nearby art and culture centers. 

City Councilman Carlos Garcia says that the location of this project is a huge roadblock to overcome since the currently proposed location lacks significance when it comes to the Latino community. 

“The Hance location kind of doesn’t allow us to grow from there. And it also doesn’t hold cultural significance, specifically to the Latino/Chicano from Phoenix,” Garcia said at the recent meeting concerning the center. “I had an artist call me about it and say, ‘Our communities were redlined and were not allowed north of whatever-Van Buren or the tracks-and so how can we set something up like where our communities weren’t even allowed.”

Despite some disagreements, Phoenix is ready to move forward with the project that it hopes it can get started on in the next few years. 

While there are still some questions about the location of the center, Councilwoman Thelda Williams said that this month’s vote was the most progress the project has made in becoming a reality. She said that only stalling the project even longer might hurt its long term viability. 

“For 17 years, we’ve been pursuing this,” Williams told AZ Central. “I know not everyone is happy with this building, but as you stated, doing this review and analysis of the building is truly going to be suitable. I wanted us to keep moving forward.”

As of now, there is $997,902 in available bond funding towards the center which means that the city would have to start a capital funding campaign to meet the financial needs for the project. This is where the city would need more people on board with the project if it is to keep moving forward, most importantly the support of the local Latino community which has voiced it has felt left out of the planning process. 

“It’s been in the works for so long that now everyone is disenfranchised,” Latina choreographer Liliana Gomez told Phoenix New Times. “People are feeling a little bit voiceless. If the center happens, I’ll be supportive. In the meantime, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing.”

While the Hance Park location isn’t definitive, the city council has left it’s options open if another location or large sum donation is given to build the center somewhere else. Nonetheless, Phoenix is making progress on a project that has been years long overdue and is something that Latinos rightfully deserve. Councilmember Laura Pastor voiced this message at the city meeting and echoed the sentiment many have felt about the cultural center finally moving forward. 

“The city of Phoenix’s Latino arts and culture community is rich, vibrant and ever-evolving. This center will be a home for more than just art. It will encompass storytelling, cultural foods, music, programs, and festivals. Today’s vote is a vital step in the 18-year process to provide our City with the long-overdue Latino Cultural Center it deserves.”

READ: The Sexual Assault Charges Against An Illinois Principal Highlights One Of The Biggest Problems In Our Education System

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We Asked What Being Latino Meant To You And Your Responses Were Inspirational AF

Culture

We Asked What Being Latino Meant To You And Your Responses Were Inspirational AF

What does being Latine mean to you? That’s the question that we asked our Instagram community and their responses really got us thinking.

There is so much to love about being Latino – from our community and our familia, to our cultura and our resilience, our drive to be better and work harder to reach not just our dreams, but the dreams of our pápis and our abuelos too. There is no single definition of what being Latino/Latina/Latine means, and, as expected, where we fall on the Latinidad spectrum varies depending on each one of us. That being said, there is no wrong way to be a Latino or to feel Latinidad, and we hope that these answers give you the courage to accept it, embrace it, and carry it proudly.

But first, the response that left our jaw on the floor:

“I consider myself Indigenous Latinx. I have a trilingual experience growing up with listening and speaking a mixture of Mixtec, Spanish and English #indigenouslatinx” – @jeanettejaguar.

Wow Jeanette! That is so beautiful, thank you for sharing with us. If you ever want to talk to us about your Mixtec cultura and your upbringing let us know, we’re all ears!

Being Latine means embracing the skin you’re in…

“Being a Latino means I’m beautifully brown.” – @pepelokz

“Means brown is beautiful! Was taught at a young age the girls who had brown skin, brown eyes, and brown hair like me were the prettiest. 💕” – @_cynnreneerose

…and not letting anyone tell you how you should or shouldn’t feel.

“It means being unapologetically brown and proud and not letting other oppress our culture and beliefs 👏🏽” – @_ottootto_

“always persevering and continuously learn about ones culture or cultures as to not repeat the same mistakes of the past! I’m a proud Mutt of Mexican born parents! Never have I denied my culture and being what I am I would gladly die fighting then on my knees ✊🏼🇲🇽” – @immanuel_rosa

Some people have trouble feeling accepted

“Ni de aquí, ni de allá” – @marcela.nog19

“Being a Latina is being unsure if it’s okay to claim being Latina. It means fear of being rejected by both cultures that make up my being. It means to laugh at myself as being white wash so that i can pretend it doesn’t hurt when I hear from family and friends around me. It means to constantly be looking for my roots because neither groups want to claim me.” – @miszjean

First of all, whoever made you feel like you weren’t enough is projecting their own beliefs onto you! You said it yourself, both cultures make up your being. You are not either/or, you are BOTH, and that’s something that’s within you, regardless of what other people have to say. Do whatever makes you feel more secure in your identity; if it’s not knowing enough about your cultura that you are self conscious of, all the knowledge in the world is just a Google search away. There’s always going to be people telling you what to do and how you should feel, but that’s their problem, you are supported and loved and you are accepted just the way you are, and if you don’t think so, keep reading to check out Ana Martinez’s answer a little further below.

“Well I feel like I am not living up the standards of being resilient. I am struggling to get my career or studies done, I just feel overwhelmed about the pressures of being an immigrant, disabled, and with chronic issues. I don’t know how my grandma did it coming from a indentured farming family to a businesswoman in her prime time in Mexico- considering that she was not a white woman or a criollo or from a rich family. I am very tired of fighting. I am exhausted. I don’t think I represent anything of Latinx/Latina/Latine, but my grandma DOES represent that. 🇲🇽🌻” – @pandapanda_26

It’s not fair for us to compare our obstacles and challenges to those of anyone else, especially our parents’ and abuelos’. Granted, sometimes it’s hard not to, especially when we consider the lives they led and the sacrifices they were forced to make along the way, but we’re never going to feel like what we do is enough if we’re always comparing ourselves to them. It’s hard not to feel intimidated when things seem to go wrong or when things get tough but mija, you’re doing amazing! Growth is hard and uncomfortable and sometimes we fall but the most important thing is that we pick ourselves up and keep going. That’s exactly what we saw when we read your response: someone who has overcome many challenges and is tired af but is still here, growing and learning and echandole ganas. Think about a time when you overcame something you thought you wouldn’t. See? You can do anything as long as you actually try, your abuelita’s blood is in you, and you cannot fail. *Sending you a big virtual hug*

There is so much of Latinidad to be proud of.

“Being super proud!” – @sarahi_rueda

“Being Latina means being proud of your culture, and being a princess and a warrior.” – @j98oo

“What being Latina means to me: you have the upmost knowledge and first hand experience of struggles( it be family, self, work) getting by just to stay afloat(financially, emotionally, physically) but most importantly the exposure and lessons embedded in us by our adult leaders(parents/ guardians/grandparents) in our life. But on the other side of that coins what makes us Latinas unique is beside all of the above we still are shown how to hard workers, humble, and resilient.” – @tati_rivas90

“It means I love to dance. It means family will always be the most important thing in the world to me. It means I might sound like a gringa to some pero the spanish comes out real quick when im angry, smitten by a cute dog, or in other situations I better not say. It means I belong to a group of people they act like they can’t see. It means I have to explain myself to my white boyfriend over and over again. It means every time I go back home to miami a part of me that’s always empty gets filled. It means vallenatos, mi abuelita, My finca in colombia, the navidades that can never be the same again ❤️” – @saraamayaaa

At the end of the day, remember that where we are born does not determine who we are.

“It means that just because we were born in the 🇺🇸.. being children of a Mexican immigrants… we are Latinos” – @anamartinez67

We hope that you are feeling just as inspired by these responses as we are.

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This Iñupiaq TikToker Has A Thing Or Two To Teach You About Celebrating Indigenous Cultures Online

Fierce

This Iñupiaq TikToker Has A Thing Or Two To Teach You About Celebrating Indigenous Cultures Online

Drew Angerer / Getty

An Indigenous woman from Utqiagvik, Alaska who is part of the Iñupiaq tribe is TikTok’s latest culture sensation.

While the rest of us are stuck indoors and quarantining, Patuk Glenn has been amassing a following on Instagram and teaching her 81,000 followers about the Iñupiaq culture, traditions, and daily routines. From sharing videos about hunting to showing off her culture’s traditional clothing, Glenn’s videos are a reminder that beyond being alive, indigenous cultures around the globe are resilient– even in the face of our world’s constant attempts to change and eliminate them.

Glenn’s trending TikTok videos run the gamut from cooking to wearing her traditional clothing.

In some videos, Glenn shares the recipe for Inuit ice cream (caribou fat, ground caribou meat, and seal meat) or shares what her traditional clothing looks like. In one truly insightful clip, she takes her followers through a traditional ice cellar in her mother’s house. There, Glenn shared with her viewers that she and her family use the permafrost surround the cellar to preserve whale, seal, and caribou.

Given some of the food content, some of Glenn’s videos have received some backlash to which she isn’t batting much of an eye.

In videos where Glenn features food from whales (muktuk, or whale skin) she says that she has become used to receiving not so positive comments on occasion. Speaking to CBC News, Glenn explained that such comments are hurtful at times but mostly only inspire to continue to educate her followers more. “At first I was really upset,” she explained. “From there, with all of the negative backlash, I felt like it was my responsibility to help educate on why our Inuit people in the Arctic are hunters and gatherers.”

Glenn says that negative comments only push her to share more and educate her followers, particularly because she would like her daughter to be able to share her love for her culture one day as well. “We don’t want our kids to feel ashamed of who they are and where they came from. That’s what really hurt me the most.”

Impressively, Glenn says that learning on TikTok has become a two-way street too.

From TikTok, Glenn says that she has been able to learn and educate herself more about other Indigenous cultures as well. Glenn’s growing understanding of these groups and tribes (like Navajo and Cree) are a welcome surprise. Particularly for someone who, like the rest of us, is taught very little about the world’s Indigenous populations. “In the United States, we’re largely left out of the media. There’s no representation of us,” Glenn shared. “It’s 2020, we have a real opportunity in this day and age to be able to educate the world where institutional education has failed, or where mainstream media has failed.”

For Glenn, her fight to teach others more about her culture is vital. “This platform is helping give the power back into Indigenous people’s hands, to speak on behalf of themselves. I think that’s the really cool piece of it.”

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