These chicas love technology and they want to encourage other women to follow their same passion.
TECHNOLOchicas is all about sharing stories of Latinas dominating the tech world. The program, created in conjunction with National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) and Televisa Foundation, wants to give Latinas the resources and connections to make their dreams come true. According to the website and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Latinas are the fastest growing demographic of women and IT is the fastest growing segment of the economy. By 2050, it is estimated that Latinas will make up 26 percent of women in the U.S. TECHNOLOchicas is aiming to raise awareness for young Latinas to know about their opportunities in the world of information and technology and even Eva Longoria has endorsed the organization and their mission.
“I’m a woman in technology but I also know that I bring different things to the table,” Natalie Rodriguez says in the trailer for the program. “I bring a different perspective.”
Latinx representation in media is limited but leaders like Kay Lopez,a 34-year-old social strategist and content developer, are working to change that. For her latest project she developed 100 gifs to better represent Latinas beyond those normally attached to brands or stereotypes.
“I wasn’t finding any gifs that really spoke to how I felt Latinas should be describing their power and self. The few gifs that I did come across were tied to alcohol brands and soccer teams. It was hard to understand why these gifs didn’t already exist,” she told FIERCE by mitú.
Her background is in social strategy and content development, and she used her skills in graphic design to create the gifs “that spoke to the Latina community.”
She also tapped into the community she developed through the Instagram account, Latinas Poderosas which has more than 30k followers.
The ethos behind the online community is to uplift Latinas and claim space in the digital world while promoting positivity.
“Empowering our community is the foundation of Latinas Poderosas. My goal has always been to empower Latinas by showcasing both past and present Latinas who have created positive impact. Women who have not settled, women who have pushed boundaries and who have made their dreams possible despite obstacles.” she said.
This was the same intention she brought to the project so she reached out to the members of this community to find out what it was they wanted, opening up her DMs to suggestions and requests.
She initially drafted several empowering terms that spoke to Latinx in a positive way.
Eventually, her efforts evolved into working to ensure she represented the diversity within the Latinx community.
She asks for two to three words max per phrase and is continuously looking for popular colloquial adjectives throughout Latin America to “truly capture the diversity of our community.”
“I wanted terms that were not focused on one country, I wanted to pull and showcase the diversity in our phrases and the diversity of the Spanish language. Today you’ll find gifs that read ‘cachimbona’ a phrase used in El Salvador, ‘La Llorona’ which ties to Mexican [folklore], ‘Ya Tu Sabes’ used in the Dominican Republic, and, one of my favorites, ‘Blaxican’ created by special request. The more terms we have the more impact we have!”
Since launching earlier this month the gifs have already generated more than 20 million views and counting and so far the most popular terms are “Prima Hermana,” “Mija,” and “Bebecita.”
Lopez, who is a first-generation Mexican-American Houston transplant living in Los Angeles, is constantly working to make the gifs more inclusive and representative.
“I want to refrain from Latinx stereotypes as much as possible, words like ‘caliente,’ ‘chancla’ ‘tacos’ – with the exception of ‘tacos before vatos’ which was a request from a fan – and I definitely want to stay away from words that insult our community or other communities. I want the gifs to showcase the diversity of our language, our culture, and the vibrancy of our roots.”
Her efforts are undoubtedly making the social sphere all the more colorful.
This addition to the digital landscape means that when someone searches “Latina,” “latinas poderosa” or “latinx” in the gif section on Instagram or Snapchat, they’ll be flooded with colorful words including “reina,” “poderosa,” and “diosa.”
Switching up the narrative is ultimately the goal, it’s empowerment at people’s fingertips when the terminology associated with the Latinx community, specifically women, goes from sexual or provocative (the common associations with Latinas) to diverse and uplifting.
“I want Latinas to know that they matter, that they’re seen and heard. I want to encourage our community to create. If you find our narrative missing don’t just shrug it off, do something and create it because no one else will create it for us.”
For many of us, our ability to speak Spanish or Portuguese is a huge part of our Latinidad. But with millions of people speaking Indigenous languages in Latin America, we know this is far from the truth. Spanish is, of course, one thing that unites most of Latin America together, but it’s a language that was imposed on us. It’s one reason some Mexican writers have rejected Spanish to write in Indigenous languages. For those of us who are interested in learning Indigenous languages, technology has become a serious lifeline.
We already use apps for dating and social media to checking the weather or shopping, so why not use it to help us get in touch with our deeper identity?
Several apps have sprung over the last few years to help us learn the Indigenous languages of Latin America. If you’re looking to take on a new language, here are a few apps you should check out:
With an estimated 1.5 million speakers, Náhuatl is the most commonly spoken Indigenous language in Mexico. Yet despite its prevalence in rural Mexico, there are still few courses or resources available for learning it.
The digital app “Vamos a Aprender Náhuatl” (Let’s Learn Náhuatl) offers learners the chance to approach the language as spoken in the town of Acatlán, in the southern state of Guerrero. In a self-taught manner, you can learn the numbers, greetings, animals, body parts, fruits, plants, and some verbs. The app – which is in Spanish and Náhuatl – also features quizzes to help users retain their lessons.
Kernaia has also developed an app for learning Mixtec, a branch of Indigenous languages spoken by more than half a million people. The app allows learners to navigate through 20 language lessons which teach greetings, numbers, and colors. The lessons are all set in the Santa Inés de Zaragoza community in the southern state of Oaxaca, and the app teaches people about the culture and traditions of the community.
The Kernaia project says that its mission is to create “an ecosystem of digital content for Indigenous languages.” To move toward this goal, the organization has created a similar app for Purépecha, a language spoken by nearly 200,000 people in the western state of Michoacán.
After the passing of Mexico’s Indigenous language law in 2000, languages including Purépecha were given official status equal with Spanish in the areas where it is spoken. Digital learning aids such as those offered by Kernaia are vital to heightening awareness of both the Purépecha language and the culture of the Purépecha people, who often experience poverty and marginalization.
As well as teaching words related to daily activities, Kernaia’s website says that the app offers a journey into “the space where they take place: the family, the community, the kitchen, the field, the celebrations, and other elements that represent the town’s identity and enrich our cultural diversity.”
Quechua’s one of the most widely spoken indigenous language in the Americas. PromPerú developed the Habla Quechua app “with the aim of inspiring Peruvian citizens and foreigners to use and take an interest in the Quechua language.” The app – which is available to English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish speakers – features quizzes and a live translator feature.
DuoLingo offers courses in more than 20 languages, including the Jopará dialect of Guaraní, which is spoken in Paraguay. There is also a course for Navajo that is currently in Beta. The app offers quizzes and immediate grading.
So what do you think? Are there any Indigenous languages you’d like to learn that don’t have an app yet?
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