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Revista Étnica Is The New Afro-Latino Magazine Gassing Up Our Afrolatinidad All The Way From Puerto Rico

Since Gloriann Sacha Antonetty Lebrón was a child growing up in Carolina, Puerto Rico, she has been fascinated by journalism. She was captivated by the colorful glossies of Cosmopolitan and Revista Tú that sat on the shelves of local drug stores. She wanted to read about the latest beauty and fashion and be on top of entertainment and cultural news from Latin America and the United States. But more than this, she desired to be seen, to have glamorous and powerful Black women that resembled the matriarchs in her own family cover the magazines.

“I never had the opportunity here in Puerto Rico to see Black people, and Black women in particular, in magazines,” Lebrón told mitú. “None of them represented the beauty of my family, my friends, my community or myself.”

As a teenager, Lebrón’s father, who was raised in New York, introduced her to popular African-American publications geared toward women.

 While magazines like Ebony and Essence weren’t yet available in Puerto Rico, her father would have friends mail the glossy or bring them back from trips in order for Lebrón to have access to images and stories of women who looked like her. The unnecessary struggle it took for her to see herself represented in media and the joyous feeling she felt while flipping through page after page of enchanting dark-skinned women inspired Lebrón to one day start her own magazine in Puerto Rico specifically for Afro-Latina women.

In December of 2018, Lebrón’s teenage dreams came true.

 The now 38-year-old communications professional launched Revista Étnica, the first print magazine in Puerto Rico to represent the Caribbean archipelago’s vast and diverse Afro-Latinx population.

“Our community is marginalized. If you have dark skin, you generally don’t have an opportunity to feel like you belong and are a part of this society. We are only good for food, music and sports, and that’s something we want to change,” she said.

Through the biannual magazine, Étnica’s three-person staff and group of collaborators produce a stunning publication that covers beauty, fashion, entertainment, food and culture as well as investigative journalism that looks into the deep-rooted, and largely denied, racism that exists in Puerto Rico. 

In the first issue, writer Edmy Ayala delves into the racial disparities that exist on the archipelago and how the state works to protect the rights and uplift the talents of lighter-skinned Boricuas. 

The second volume, which published in August, features an essay that examines racism in Puerto Rico’s public school system, looking particularly at the ways in which codes of conduct target and punish Black youth. 

“Right now, it’s more critical than ever to be having these conversations,” Lebrón says. “Here, we understand that we are a mix. We are mestizos, with a rich culture that includes our Spanish heritage, Taíno heritage and, less important, our African heritage. Many use this to claim we are all the same here, that racism doesn’t exist. But me being a Black Puerto Rican woman, a young Black person, I can tell you that I struggle every day and experience racism in so many ways.”

This bigotry was particularly evident for Lebrón when she first attempted to launch Revista Étnica. In her mid-20s, she submitted a proposal for the publication in a contest and was one of the finalists. At the time, she was assigned a mentor who would help her work through her proposition and advise her on steps she could take to realize her project. A leading journalist in Puerto Rico, Lebrón was thrilled to have the guidance of an esteemed figure as she pursued her ambitions. That’s why she felt completely discouraged when the male leader suggested that her magazine would fail. 

“He said, ‘people in Puerto Rico don’t want to identify as Black,’” Lebrón recalls. “I started to believe that the magazine wasn’t important, and it took away my dream.”

Disheartened, Lebrón went on to start a different career in media, working in advertising and public relations. In this industry, she was once again confronted by anti-blackness in Puerto Rico. Few brands and companies put Black Boricuas in their ads, catered to Afro-Puerto Rican communities or even hired dark-skinned employees. 

After taking a job as the director of communications for a local nonprofit that put her in direct contact with Puerto Rican youth, Lebrón was reminded of the importance of representation. During each visit with boys and girls across the archipelago, Black children would race to Lebrón, excited to engage with a powerful leader who looked like them.

“I’d tell them, ‘you are beautiful and intelligent,’ and I would see the light in their eyes. I knew I had to do Étnica.”

A decade after Lebrón submitted her proposal for her dream publication, she entered the contest again and became a finalist once more. This time, she won a social enterprise award, which allowed her to fund the first issue of her magazine.

Today, Revista Étnica is available for purchase at Walgreens and Walmarts across Puerto Rico as well as some local shops in the metropolitan area. Through the magazine’s website, readers can order copies from all over the world. Lebrón says she has subscribers from the United States, Dominican Republic, Colombia, and even Switzerland. Additionally, the publication’s site and social media include a blog and content that offers insight and opinions on more timely news.

For Lebrón, Revista Étnica is more than a magazine; it’s also a community and a movement. 

Throughout the year, the publication hosts events, from parties to movie-watching groups, and has recently also launched a start-up program for Afro-Puerto Rican entrepreneurs. She says that her company’s success isn’t measured by its magazine sales but rather by how it can help create economic security for the Black community in Puerto Rico more broadly.

While materializing her wildest childhood fantasies has been both joyous and frightening, she says that ultimately this magazine and this movement is much bigger than her alone.

“I just want women who read Étnica to feel proud of their skin, their body, their imperfections. I want them to know there is a community with them, that they’re not alone,” Lebrón says.

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. 

Don’t Tell White Supremacists, But Latinos Are Going To Drive Most Of The US Economic Growth

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Don’t Tell White Supremacists, But Latinos Are Going To Drive Most Of The US Economic Growth

David Shankbone / Flickr

If it hasn’t already been apparent that Latinos are a big force in the U.S. economy, a new study argues that the group is the future for gross domestic product (GDP) growth. According to the Latino Donor Collective U.S. Latino GDP Report, which was prepared by California Lutheran University, the study says the economic contribution of the U.S. Latino community will become increasingly vital moving forward to the economy.

The study says that the GDP among U.S. Latinos made huge leaps within the last decade, up from $1.7 trillion in 2010 to $2.3 trillion in 2017. On a compounded annual basis, that’s the third-highest growth rate among all global economies in that period. GDP among Latinos also grew at a faster rate than the overall U.S. economy during those eight years. This can be mainly attributed to high labor-force participation, large population growth and increasing consumer spending.

The reports highlight the strides and economic growth that Latinos have had in recent years. More importantly, it makes the argument of how vital this population group will be to continue moving the U.S. economy as a whole. “Latinos currently are and will increasingly become a critical foundation of support for the new American economy,” the study says.

It’s no surprise as the Latino population has made an immense impact on the U.S. as a whole in the last decade, whether its through education, socially and now economically.  

Credit: Unsplash

The study, which was released last month in concurrence with the L’Attitude conference in San Diego hosted by The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, argues why these advancements are now finally being seen by Latinos. This generation of Latinos is expected to make some of the biggest contributions in the coming decades due to being well-positioned than previous generations. 

During previous waves, most notably the during the ’50s and ’60s, U.S. Latinos were more likely to be immigrants who worked in low-wage jobs in positions like agriculture and construction, according to David Hayes-Bautista, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at UCLA and an author of the study. Now, as the population group has settled in and has made social advancements, the Latino workforce is expected to be very different.

As these generational gaps increase, so does the median age of Latinos in the U.S. which is currently 46 years old. While on the other hand, their children’s median age stands at 19. This essentially means that this forthcoming Latino demographic is set to enter a workforce more prepared, whether financially or educationally, than any previous one. That can be attributed to having access to better schools and being native English speakers. Latinos have also made huge leaps in the last decade when it comes to getting a bachelor’s degree as the number increased by 51% from 2010 to 2017, while the non-Latino educated population grew by 21 percent. 

“Given robust population growth, high labor force participation, rising incomes, and strong increases in educational attainment, we expect the significant growth premium enjoyed by U.S. Latinos to be maintained in the years ahead,” said Matthew Fienup, executive director of the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at California Lutheran University and one of the authors of the study. 

One thing is for sure, any success that the U.S. economy is going to have in the near future can be attributed to the advancements of Latinos as well.

Credit: Unsplash

Latinos are contributing economically now more than ever and this growth will only continue as the population does. The Latino population in the U.S. is growing rapidly, which in return has increased the group’s economic role in the country. Between 2008 and 2018, the Latino share of the entire U.S. population grew from 16 percent to 18 percent. Latinos also accounted for about half (52 percent) of all U.S. population growth over this decade. 

With a bigger population group that also means more people at work. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates than Latinos will account for an additional 30 million workers that will enter the U.S. labor force by 2060.  

This is all amounting to even more growth, socially and economically, when it comes to U.S. Latinos. We can only imagine what impact the next generation of Latinos will have on this country and the strides our people will have along the way. 

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