Culture

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

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

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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

A Man Was Shot During A New Mexico Protest Against A Statue Honoring A Spanish Conquistador

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A Man Was Shot During A New Mexico Protest Against A Statue Honoring A Spanish Conquistador

Adolph-Pierre Louis / Getty Images

As the world comes to an inflection point on race and history, several communities are working to tear down long-standing memorials to racism, enslavement and other human rights abuses.

Monuments to European conquerors and colonists around the world are being pulled down amid an intense re-examination of racial injustices in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police.

In a video of the rally, shots could be heard as protesters tried to remove a statue of conquistador Juan de Oñate.

As protests take place across the country demanding statutes honoring blatant racists be taken down, the calls have been met with controversy for many. It’s no different in New Mexico, where protesters had gathered to remove a statue honoring a brutal Spanish conquistador. The protesters were met by a group of armed counter-protesters who were there to “protect” the statue.

Video taken at the scene shows protesters attempting to topple a statue of Juan de Oñate using a rope tied around the statue’s neck before four gunshots are heard. Additional footage shows a physical altercation between protesters and a man in a blue shirt before gunshots.

The scene turned into chaos as people ran for cover. Police in riot gear could be seen taking at least two people into custody as some protesters heckled the officers. It was more than two hours before the area was cleared.

In the end, one protester is in the hospital with critical injuries but is expected to make a full recovery.

Several videos of the shooting have popped up on social media – but it’s unclear who is guilty of firing the shot.

On Tuesday, a police statement said detectives arrested Stephen Ray Baca, 31, and that he was held on suspicion of aggravated battery. Authorities previously said several people were detained for questioning.

However, a militia group known as the New Mexico Civil Guard had reportedly arrived at the scene to protect the statue from protesters – and they were heavily armed. The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has not confirmed whether the shooter was a member of the militia.

“We are receiving reports about vigilante groups possibly instigating this violence,” said APD Chief Michael Geier in a public statement. “If this is true will [we] be holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law, including federal hate group designation and prosecution.”

But who was Juan de Oñate?

Credit: Susan Montoya Bryan / Getty Images

Juan de Oñate was born in Mexico (then part of New Spain) and set out to govern the New Mexico region for Spain in 1598, crossing north into the Rio Grande Valley through what is now El Paso, Texas with several hundred settlers.

To Native Americans, Oñate is known for having the right feet cut off of tribal members. After Oñate tried to force the Acoma to pay taxes, the tribe fought back, but were beat by Oñate’s men and enslaved for the following twenty years. Oñate was later charged with war crimes in Mexico City and banished from New Mexico

The protest in New Mexico is the latest in growing calls for racial justice.

Credit: @theconversation / Twitter

The protest against the Oñate statue is just one of dozens taking place throughout the country as thousands call for racial justice after the police officer-involved killing of George Floyd on May 25. Statues symbolizing the Confederacy have been either removed by public officials or toppled or disfigured by protesters calling for their removal. Additionally, protesters have toppled statues of Christopher Columbus, and officials in Dallas have removed a statue of a Texas Ranger with a well-documented racist history.

Several politicians have already come out in support of removing the controversial statue.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller announced late Monday after the shooting that the Oñate statue will be removed. “The shooting tonight was a tragic, outrageous and unacceptable act of violence and it has no place in our city. Our diverse community will not be deterred by acts meant to divide or silence us,” Keller said on Twitter. “Our hearts go out the victim, his family and witnesses whose lives were needlessly threatened tonight. This sculpture has now become an urgent matter of public safety.”

Other New Mexico officials have also spoken out since Monday night. “Historical trauma can carry weight for centuries. Juan de Oñate’s violent colonization and brutal enslavement of Pueblo people was not heroic,” wrote New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich on Twitter. “Removing a statue glorifying this man is only one important step in coming to terms with our state’s fraught history and building a stronger sense of reconciliation and understanding between all New Mexicans today.” Heinrich also called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the shooting, noting that armed civilian militias have appeared at other New Mexico protests in recent weeks.

20 Classic Latino Baby Names to Consider

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20 Classic Latino Baby Names to Consider

What is the most adorable battle of sexes that you are ever going to come across? I will give you the answer. It is an expecting couple cribbing, crying and fighting each other on choosing the best baby names. It is hard for a man not to be a fan of Latin American names if he is a football aficionado. Given that we are living in times that shall go down in history books as those that were owned by a Lionel Messi or a Neymar Junior, the names of football stars represent just the tip of the iceberg of human nomenclature in Latin America. Of course, you would not like to discuss footballer names if you have a girlfriend or a wife that has an aversion to football. But then, there are still some amazing female Latino names that pop up when you think of the long list of glitterati in the domains of entertainment, literature, spirituality, and music. Which Latino baby names would you and your partner choose?

Here we present you a compelling list of what we thought are the most common yet powerful names that epitomize the beauty of Latin America’s rich heritage and culture. We start with 10 Latino baby names for boys and then take you through another set of 10 Latino baby names for girls. Take a look.

Latino Baby Names for Boys

Santiago

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First on our list is the name Santiago. A direct adaptation of the name of Saint James, in Latin, the name spells spiritual enlightenment, purity, and blissfulness in one breath. Beyond the spiritual connection, Santiago is also the capital of Chile.

Mateo

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Second on our list of 20 classic Latino names is Mateo. Mateo is a name derived from the Spanish language and literally translates into the phrase of God “gift of God.” The name works really well if you and your life partner consider the boy to be a gift from Almighty.

Alejandro

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Third, on our list is a name that is rooted in ancient history. Alejandro is the Spanish variant of the original Greek name Alexander. The name has lived since ages and continues to remind people of what is capable through resolute action.

Third, on our list is a name that is rooted in ancient history. Alejandro is the Spanish variant of the original Greek name Alexander. The name has lived since ages and continues to remind people of what is capable through resolute action.

Diego

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@thebump / Pinterest

Fourth on our list of the best Latino names for baby boys is one that reflects wisdom. Diego is a Spanish name that refers to a teacher. If you and your partner look forward to having a baby boy that can one day evolve into an erudite person, this name certainly fits the bill like no other.

Leo

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@thebump / Pinterest

Fifth on our list of the best Latino names for baby boys is a name that represents the qualities of leadership and the royalty of a lion in the jungle. The name Leo is derived from the Latin language and means a lion. There are similar variants of the name across different languages in the world. The German name Leopold refers to people with the virtues of bravery and valor.

Valentino

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Sixth on our list is a name that has its roots in Italian history and is universally associated with virtues of large-heartedness, love, and peace. The name Valentino derives itself from the Italian variant of the Latin Valentinus that has also seen versions in other languages.

Bautista

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@thebump / Instagram

The seventh name unfortunately for wives and girlfriends again reflects back on football. Remember the Mexican footballer Adolfo Bautista. The name Bautista also has a high spiritual dimension in Christianity. Derived from the Spanish language the name refers to someone who has been baptized.

Esteban

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@healthybabies / Twitter

Eighth in the list is a name that again has its roots in Spanish and refers to the crown. You got that guys and gals. Esteban refers to the crown, the ornament that embellishes the heads of the few powerful and privileged ones, i.e. the kings.

Gonzalo

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@healthybabies / Twitter

Ninth on our list is the name Gonzales that means someone that saves from harm. If you couples out there look forward to having a baby boy that can grow up to be the savior of the people in the world, then this name that has its roots in Spanish is just for you.

Angel

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@healthybabies / Twitter

Tenth on our list of names is Angel. Highly popular across Latin American countries like Mexico and Argentina, the name refers to one that is God sent or divine.

Girl Names

Veronica

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@KateJusko / Pinterest

First in the list of girl names in Latin is Veronica. The name traces its roots to the Bible and refers to the maiden that had given her handkerchief to Christ. A popular name in Latin America, it is essentially derived from Spanish.

Valentia

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@KateJusko / Pinterest

Second, on our list of baby girl names is Valentia.  A typical Latin name, it symbolizes virtues of bravery and courage and is very popular in South America.

Amada

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@KateJusko / Pinterest

Third on our list of baby girl names is Amada. A Spanish name that means loved or beloved, it is perfect for your cute baby girl if you believe in the power of love.

Angelica

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@KateJusko / Pinterest

Third on our list of baby girl names is Amada. A Spanish name that means loved or beloved, it is perfect for your cute baby girl if you believe in the power of love.

Angelica

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@BabyGirl / Pinterest

Fourth on our list of baby names is the name Angelica, the feminine version of the name Angel. Representing the same virtues as the name of her male counterpart, the name derives itself from the Latin language.

Antonia

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@BabyGirl / Pinterest

Fifth on our list of names for baby girls is a name with Roman roots, Antonia. The feminine version of Antony, the name means someone who is invaluable and commendable.

Susanita

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@AfrinShaikh / Pinterest

Sixth on the list of names for your princess is the name Susanita, the Latin adaptation of the English name Suzana. Remember the lyrics of that immortal love song “Suzana I am crazy loving you.”

Amelia

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Seventh on the list blends names like Emilia and Amalia and is rooted in the Latin language. Amelia is a popular name for baby girls in Latin America and refers to virtues of industriousness and enterprise. It can also refer to someone who is the vanguard of something or people.

Isabella

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@ErikaEskamilla / Pinterest

Eighth on the list is a name that is an adaptation of Elizabeth and refers to one that is devoted to God. A popular name for girls in Latin America, the name reflects the widespread culture of the English, Portuguese and French royals having an Elizabeth in their courts.

Gabriela

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Pinterest@ Erika Eskamilla

Ninth on our list of baby girl names is Gabriela, the feminine version of Gabriel in Hebrew that literally translates into one that God gives strength to. It fits perfectly for parents looking for some divine inspiration from the name of Biblical saints.

Martina

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Pinterest@Haleyyxoo

Last on the list of baby names for girls and also in this collective of 20 classic Latino names is one that is inspired by sportspersons and Olympic champions, the most heard of being Martina Hingis. Martina is a Latin name for girls and has become synonymous with virtues of excellence in sports.

On a final note, you and your partner can continue to fight on all the petty issues of life ranging from football matches disturbing your schedules for candlelight dinners to the time that women take in front of the mirror to adorn themselves. Yet, these 20 classic Latino names should ideally provide you some meeting ground and serve the purpose of reminding you of what stands to be achieved for long lasting world peace! Cheers to your parenthood and choosing the right name for your baby.Toggle