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

Arizona Karen’s Husband Blames Wife’s Mental Illness For Racist Tirade

Things That Matter

Arizona Karen’s Husband Blames Wife’s Mental Illness For Racist Tirade

Greg Conn / Facebook / FOX 10

Update: June 10, 2020, 12:03 p.m. PST: Tamara Harrian became a household name when she was slapped for telling a woman to go back to Mexico. The Arizona Karen caused anger after confronting a Native American woman in a convenience store and flew into a racist tirade unprovoked.

Bob Harrian, Tamara’s husband, spoke out about the incident defending his wife.

Bob spoke with FOX 10 Phoenix about the incident that has gone viral. Bob gave a tearful interview with the FOX affiliate defending his wife and her actions.

“Karina, I don’t know what to say. I’m just so sorry,” Harrian told FOX 10. “I’m just so sorry that this happened. You never walked into that store thinking something like this was going to happen. I understand, and I’m sorry. I’m sorry for what she said. It was very hateful. It was — it’s indefensible, but I just have to tell you this. It’s her mental illness. A year ago, she would never done — never have even thought of that.”

Karina Rodriguez was at a convenience store when Tamara began to berate her, according to a video posted on Facebook. Tamara told Rodriguez that she needs to go back to her country. Rodriguez argued back saying that Native American people are literally from the U.S., unlike people of European descent. The confrontation escalated into Rodriguez slapping Tamara after Tamara grabbed her by the arm and tried to continue the argument.

Original: Racism is a rampant problem in the U.S. The nation is being to confront that reality after the death of George Floyd. Protests have raged in major U.S. cities against the systemic racism that has been deadly and dangerous for minorities. A white woman in Arizona is facing her own repercussions after telling a woman to go back to her country.

A white woman in Arizona was slapped after telling someone to go back to their country.

Racism is alive and well, this just happened at the shell gas station in Phoenix, Greenway and 7th st. ****please share, let’s make her racism known ***. ABC15 Arizona ABC News NBC News Fox News #racism #ignorance

Posted by Greg Conn on Saturday, June 6, 2020

Racial tensions are boiling over across the country. Social media and smartphones are making it possible to push these examples of blatant racism. It is 2020 and people still think it is okay to verbally and physically attack people for their skin color or ethnicity.

The latest example of U.S.-grown racism comes from Phoenix, Arizona. The woman, who is being included in the growing list of problematic Karens, faced physical punishment for her offensive comments.

The woman confronted another customer telling her to go back to her country and that’s when things got heated.

The video starts with the young woman asking the older white woman if she is the manager. The white woman claims to be and begins to tell the young woman and her friend that they have to leave the store. According to comments from people who live in the area, the employees of the convenience store say she is not a manager at the store.

“Excuse me but you did say that she needs to go back to her country,” says the person recording the confrontation. “What is that?”

“This is my country,” the young woman being yelled at says. “Literally, Native Americans are from this country. White people are not from this country. Don’t serve her. Don’t serve her racist a**.”

The smack at the end of the video has people of color on Twitter celebrating.

Towards the end of the video, the white woman approaches the young woman and tells her that she is going back to Mexico. As she leaves, the spins around and claims she was touched by the young woman, and everyone in the store denies it. When she gets in the young woman’s face again, she is slapped and mumbles, “Oh my god” repeatedly as she walks out of the store.

Everyone in the store was supporting the young woman.

The man recording, identified as Greg Conn on Facebook, is heard siding with the young woman again at the end. The woman is stunned as she leaves the convenience store after being slapped for telling the woman to go back to Mexico.

“Yup. You deserved it,” the man says to the white woman as she leaves the business. “You pushed her and she slapped you. That was self-defense on her part.”

Some people on social media think that the woman got off easy with one slap.

It might be one slap, but you can hear the generations of trauma pushing her hand. Others are celebrating the young woman telling her that she is not from this country as her ancestors originated in Europe and colonized the U.S.

It shows that despite a deadly pandemic and major Black Lives Matter demonstrations, some people can’t let go of their hate.

“Oh my god,” indeed. It is 2020 and people have had enough with racism in our society. Thousands of people have maintained sustained marches across the country demanding change in policing and justice for Black and brown people killed by police for their skin color. Yet, this woman is still telling Native American people to go back to their country.

READ: Foul-Mouthed Karen Yells At People To Stop Playing Bad Bunny And Play ‘American’ Music Instead

A Photographer Is Capturing New Mexico’s Chicanx Community Through Portraits

Culture

A Photographer Is Capturing New Mexico’s Chicanx Community Through Portraits

Courtesy of Frank Blazquez

Photographer Frank Blazquez is paying a loving homage to Chicanx culture in the Land of Enchantment. The photographer is showing the world what it looks like to be Chicanx in New Mexico to highlight the diversity in a shared experience.

Frank Blazquez wants to show the world what Chicanx culture looks like outside of California.

“I am an Illinois transplant, so I was fascinated, and eventually obsessed, with the differences in my ethnicity’s iconography,” Blazquez says about the inspiration behind his project “Barrios de Nuevo Mexico: Southwest Stories of Vindication.” “For example, in New Mexico, as opposed to the Midwest and East Coast, there is a strong connection to American geography. You’ll see Latinx people with New Mexico state symbols tattooed directly on their faces and skulls. But refreshing similarities such as hairstyle also struck me.”

The other reason Blazquez started to document these lives was because of the devastating and widespread impact of drug addiction.

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Sleepy with his Daughter

A post shared by Frank Blazquez (@and_frank13) on

Blazquez admits to once having a drug problem and eventually overcoming those struggles. Some of the people that he photographs are former drug users or others who have sought redemption.

“I started in 2016 just walking around Albuquerque’s Central Avenue in the War Zone earning my street photography badge. When I almost died a couple of times, I started to use my Instagram page more often to set up shoots and contact homies from my former days of opiate abuse,” Blazquez explains. “My friend Emilio created the random handle @and_frank13 and I kept it after he died in 2017 from drug complications; an event that made me work harder to present portraits of New Mexicans demonstrating faces of dignity, hence my project ‘Barrios de Nuevo Mexico: Southwest Stories of Vindication.'”

Photography was a passion for Blazquez that grew into something bigger than him as he learned.

Blazquez’s interest in photography and love of his culture combined to create a photo series celebrating the people in his life. Blazquez turned his lens to the people in his life to capture a beauty he saw in his own community that is often overlooked and ignored.

Blazquez is hoping to show people that Chicanx culture has spread farther than California because of an exodus.

“Homies escaping the three strikes law in California created an exodus in the ’90s that transferred new symbols from organizations, namely 18th Street, Sureños, and Norteños,” Blazquez explains about the Chicanx community in New Mexico. “As New Mexico is an expanse of serene beauty that attracts people to escape from former lives, in turn, symbols were exchanged such as black and gray tattoo and font styles with purist craft structure adhering to Southwest archetypes—fat ass cursive and serif fonts with ornate filigree stems.”

He acknowledges that California is known for its Chicanx and Latinx communities but there is so much more to teach people.

“LA fingers do not represent the millions of brown people outside of California and it certainly does not represent native-born New Mexicans,” Blazquez explains. “I learned the Latinx experience is entirely different in various locations—the California stereotype doesn’t carry itself across America. It’s enlightening to know that brown culture grows and adapts independently.”

The photographer also wants to teach people that the Latino community is vast and diverse.

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Homemade New Mexican Tattoos // #dukecity

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“That the Latin-spectrum in America is not pigeonholed to any sole category,” Blazquez says. “Knowing that the labels Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicanx (a/o), Latinx (a/o), Hispanic, Mexica (not Hispanic nor Latino), Indo-Latino, Afro-Latinx (a/o) are just several of the hundreds of labels available to classify my culture’s diaspora is important.”

“Duke City Diaries” is a mini-series on YouTube that Blazquez has produced to take you deeper into the lives of the people in his photos.

“I knew the profound faces from my 2010’s New Mexico experience would make great art and explain an important POC narrative at the same time,” Blazquez says. “Creating the short YouTube documentary series “Duke City Diaries” was also an offshoot from my portraiture and one that created distinct reception. The hateful and racist comments kept me moving forward to show a larger audience that racism still exists.”

Blazquez is currently working on a new photo series called Mexican Suburbs diving deeper into his themes of Chicanx culture and the opioid crisis.

READ: Photographer Diego Huerta Took An Update Photo Of The Most Beautiful Girl In Mexico