fierce

This Indigenous Radio Station Is Keeping Immigrants From Mexico & Central America Informed

Arcenio Lopez / MICOP

In the 2010 census, more than 685 thousand Latinxs in the US identified themselves as American Indian, a number that experts believe could actually be much higher. With Latin media predominantly in Spanish and English, this population has long lacked much-needed news and culture in their language. Enter Radio Indígena, a radio station hoping to serve indigenous communities from Mexico and Central America.

The radio station is one of the first to cater to indigenous Mexicans in the United States. Every week, it boasts 40 hours of original programming, from newscasts to educational talk shows to music. While content is primarily in Mixeco, there are also programs in Zapoteco, Triqui,  Nahuatl, Spanish and more.

Radio Indígena is hosted and run by the Mixteco Indígena Community Organizing Project (MICOP), a nonprofit organization providing health outreach, humanitarian support and language interpretation to indigenous communities in California.

“There are very few ways for us to receive information in our own language,” Arcenio Lopez, executive director of MICOP and Radio Indígena, told NBC News.

He and his team started Radio Indígena in 2014. At the time, the community station was only available online. However, after three years of fundraising, the station made it to the FM airwaves in 2017.

In California, where thousands of indigenous migrants from southern Mexico have moved to in search of work after the soil erosion of ancestral farmlands in the Mixteca region, one-third of farm workers speak indigenous languages. Many of them don’t understand English or Spanish. For them, Radio Indígena is a lifeline, keeping them connected to life back home, informed of important immigration news in the US and entertained with music and cultural programs.

“Listening to it is a point of pride,” Josefino Alvarado, a California farm worker who grew up speaking Mixteco before moving to the US in 1997, told the news site. While the man is familiar with Spanish and English, the station helps him preserve his first language while giving him the opportunity to learn other indigenous languages.

According to UNESCO, almost half of Mixteco’s 50 dialects are either severely endangered or at risk of endangerment. Experts believe that migration and economic pressures, including finding paid work, has led to the extinction of indigenous languages in Mexico and Central America as well as when migrants from both regions are in the US.

One of the most popular programs on Radio Indígena is “Al Ritmo De Chilena,” an educational show that shares the history of a new indigenous culture each episode. The program, hosted by Delfina Santiago and Carmen Vasquez, airs every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The women, who work at Ventura County flower farms and as a teacher’s assistant, respectively, do the unpaid show as a labor of love.

For them, researching history, keeping their language alive and connecting listeners to their roots offer them the most value. They say it’s empowering and instills much-needed pride in a community that has long been taught to feel ashamed of their language, culture and experiences.

“We’ve kept our languages hidden out of fear,” Santiago said, “but no longer.”

Read: Mixe Author Yásnaya Aguilar Says Mexican Government Killed Off Indigenous Languages In Powerful Speech

Share this story with all of your friends by tapping our little share buttons below!

Up Next: The Emerging Orlando Puerto Rican Singer-Rapper Ballin’ With Bad Bunny, Anuel AA And Becky G

Fierce

Up Next: The Emerging Orlando Puerto Rican Singer-Rapper Ballin’ With Bad Bunny, Anuel AA And Becky G

Courtesy of Nohemy

Up Next is a FIERCE series highlighting rising Latina and Latin American women artists you might not know about but definitely should.

When Roc Nation’s #RocDaCourt Latin celebrity basketball game takes Las Vegas on April 24, there’s going to be an unfamiliar female face playing alongside Bad Bunny, Anuel AA, A.Chal and other urbano heavyweights. Let us introduce you: Nohemy, the emerging singer-rapper out of Orlando, Fla.

The moment is huge for the Puerto Rican artist, who just dropped her first Spanish-language single, “Repetir,” an energetic boastful bop, last month. But, clearly, the rising act has reason to be confident, though that doesn’t mean she’s not humble.

“Things are picking up. I’m grateful and enjoying the process,” the 25-year-old talent told FIERCE.

Nohemy, who is on Team El Combo, with el Conejo Malo, Tainy, Myke Towers, Rauw Alejandro and more, won’t be the only girl on the court. Becky G is over on Team La Familia, where she’ll be balling with acts like Anuel, Luny Tunes, C. Tangana and Justin Quiles, among others. But Nohemy doesn’t have her sights on the young Mexican-American singer. Instead, the triple threat, who played college basketball on a scholarship, is coming for Anuel — which is a glimpse at the up-and-coming Latina artist’s drive overall.

We chatted with Nohemy about the forthcoming game, where she sees her poppier sound in urbano’s global takeover, shining in Orlando’s music scene and what to expect next from the rising act.

FIERCE: It’s hard to place your music and sound in a genre box. How would you describe your style?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: My style of music would be uptempo, commercial and very happy. I don’t promote drugs or stuff like that. I try to be a positive energy, a good energy.

FIERCE: You were born and raised in Puerto Rico before moving to Orlando when you were 16 years old. What sort of music did you grow up on and how do you think this influenced your sound today?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: Growing up, I listened to a lot of Usher, Chris Brown, Michael Jackson and hip-hop. I didn’t even really understand the lyrics, but I liked the feeling of the uptempo music. I was also always involved in sports, and we always had a lot of playlists with this type of music, too. I think all of this reflects my style today because I go off of energy and the feeling it gives me. I’m very hyper. I can’t stay still. So I really identify with this high-energy music and I think I showcase this through my performances onstage.  

FIERCE: Oh definitely! I’ve seen some of your performances online, and you are very energetic. Not only are you singing and rapping, but you’re also dancing. When did you realize your musical talents and knew this was something that you wanted to do?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: I knew since I was little. I started singing at church, and I always had this feeling in me, this fire, that wanted to explode. In my room, I was always singing Usher and Chris Brown in front of the mirror. I always projected myself somewhere else. It was like a feeling of escaping from the real world.

FIERCE: At what point does this become the real world, something you go after professionally?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: Once I actually took the initiative to make my own music and get onstage, that was it. I always had a vision of what it would feel like, but once I experienced it, I needed more of it. I felt like I had to keep going. It’s addicting.

FIERCE: Orlando’s music scene used to be huge in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, during the bubblegum pop era, but it has since faded out. That’s not to say there aren’t big and rising names in the game from the O’ — Luis Fonsi, Coast City, Spiff TV, Nitty Scott and more, for instance — but many have left the city. What are some of the difficulties but also advantages of doing music in Orlando right now?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: I think it’s growing. It’s a great time right now. The Latino community is huge and growing in Orlando, and people are starting to catch up with what’s going on. As more Spanish-speaking people come in, the Latin market is growing worldwide. People here see that and I feel like there’s more support in the city now than ever, especially after Hurricane Maria, with more people coming over. People are understanding the culture and the importance of supporting one another. There are some difficulties, especially because Orlando is such a tourist area, so the music scene kind of gets lost in that. It’s not something people see; it’s hidden. It hasn’t gotten the boom and exploded out, so you have to network a lot, go to little events, get to know people inside the community and business. But there are people doing it. It’s just a different vibe, more quiet.

FIERCE: One of the benefits I see is you get to be a big fish in a small pond and are more likely to get on someone’s radar. Case in point: You were selected to participate in Roc Nation’s #RocDaCourt basketball game in Vegas this month, where you’ll be on team El Combo with Bad Bunny, Tainy, Myke Towers, Rauw Alejandro, A.Chal and more. How did that come about?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: My manager Stephanie was in contact with Lex Borrero, who is the executive vice president of Roc Nation and the head of Roc Nation Latin. He asked her if I played basketball, and I do, I actually went to college on a basketball scholarship, so she told him that and they asked me to come on. I think it’s so cool because I get to make music and showcase this passion, sports, which I’ve done for so many years of my life.

FIERCE: Team La Familia has Becky G, but you’ll be the only woman on Team El Combo, and so early on in your career. What does this feel like for you?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: Honestly, it’s surreal. When she told me, I got emotional. I come from a place where this is something we see on TV and never picture yourself there, especially so fast. I just put out my first single last month, and things are picking up. I’m grateful and enjoying the process.

FIERCE: I’m sure! As you said, you actually play ball and have real court skills. Who are you going to be coming for during the game on April 24?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: I’m coming for Anuel. I’m coming for him. I heard he has some ball skills, and a lot of people who saw I would be in the game have reached out to me and said I have to cross him up. It’s a fun, competitive game, and I have to do it now for the people, haha.

FIERCE: Haha, I can’t wait to watch that! I want to get to your music. You recently released “Repetir,” a fun, somewhat boastful song for the haters who didn’t believe in you. Why did you want to make this record. Does it describe sort of where you’re at right now in life?

Nohemy: Yeah, it definitely describes where I’m at in life. I took nine months off. In that time, I was finding myself as an artist. Before this, I wasn’t an artist who would say these things in songs; I didn’t have the confidence for that. But after putting that time in, that development, finding me, who Nohemy is, I found that confidence to say the things I said in that record. This is who I am, and I will continue to be me.

FIERCE: Love that! What else are you working on right now that you can tell us about?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: Right now, I’m working on my next single. I’m working on some visuals that I want to put together with it. That should be out by early June. Really, I’m just focused on making more music, having stuff to follow up with, and booking more shows.

FIERCE: Latin pop and urbano are having a major global moment right now. What do you think you bring to the game that’s different and helps you stand out among the rest?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: I think what I bring to the game is a different type of sexy, one that doesn’t necessarily  include too much skin but is a projection of the art, of my music, my style and my personality.

FIERCE: You are 25 years old, at the start of your career. What do you want the people to say about Nohemy in 10 to 15 years from now?

@nohemymusik / Instagram

Nohemy: That I always remained myself, true to myself: Nohemy, the humble, funny and really caring person. This isn’t just about the music, but what I represent, my morals. I’m not buying into things for the money. This is for the culture; this is who I am.

Read: Up Next: Meet Angelica Vila, The New York Dominicana Behind The Ladies’ Jam Of The Spring

Recommend this story by clicking the share button below!

Paid Promoted Stories