By Alberto Jacinto – Intern of Research and Evaluation
From 2000 to 2012, the Latin@ population in Louisiana rose an astounding 85.5%. A considerable proportion of this population is relatively young, with the average age being 29 years and just over a quarter of the population (28%) being under 18 years old.
Though Latin@s constitute only 4.5% of the total state population, this group has played an integral part in Louisiana’s history. Oftentimes, this contribution remains untold. Hondureñ@s, for example, began migrating to Louisiana in the early 1900s to work for the United Fruit Company. Although there were groups of “working class” people who migrated, there were also rich families who shipped their children to Louisiana in order to attend Catholic school. These early Latin@ settlers didn’t come together in Hispanic neighborhoods. Instead, they established themselves in mixed neighborhoods, which led to their assimilation with other groups.
Interviewer: Welcome to our January podcast. My name is Aaron Dabbah, anthropologist and blogger, and I’m here with Dr. Miriam Vega of the Latino Commission on AIDS, discussing a publication released this week entitled “The State of Latinos in the Deep South: Being Visible by Piercing the Stigma Veil”. We all know that Latinos are now the nation’s largest and fastest growing minority group, with a population increasing from 9.5 million in 1970 to over 53 million in 2012, projected to reach 129 million by 2060. Just as it is a mistake to assume all Latinos are the same, it is a mistake to assume that the lived experience of Latinos is the same across the country. Dr. Vega has recently conducted an ethnographic assessment of the State of Latinos in the Deep South, highlighting a region that has not often been closely associated with Latinos. Welcome, Dr. Vega, and please tell us what led to your latest report.
Dr. Vega: Thank you and greetings to the listeners. Our last report on Latinos in the Deep South was released in December 2008. At that time, Latinos were considered an “emerging” population in the South. Now fast forward five few years later and we’ve had several large events that have put a spotlight on Latinos in the South that we felt necessitated a follow up assessment. Continue reading
By Miriam Y Vega @miriamyvega
Our news cycle is short, and consequently our attention spans are shorter, thus stories about Latinos in America come and go with the political winds, primarily focusing on immigration or sensationalized crimes that make the dubious discovery that are “White-Hispanics” or debating the relative merits of Hispanic-Americans singing the National Anthem at sporting events. Occasionally, usually in the month of October (the tail-end of Hispanic Heritage Month), all three story lines intersect.
In 2015, we started January off with a news item that may not get much traction in the press about the House Republicans taking on the dismantling of hard-won “protections” for undocumented immigrants. Many argue that “illegals” are taking jobs or are here to live off the public system. Still others, capitalizing on fears of terrorism, actually propose that Latinos pose a security hazard. Continue reading
With the Being Visible Report now released, I have been rehashing all the stories we heard over the past two years. As a team, we travelled across seven states, driving through back roads and cities, speaking with everyday people in the community – tienda owners in small-town Louisiana, farm workers in rural South Carolina, and Hispanic journalists in Alabama. We also met with people who have dedicated their lives to helping others access healthcare and live dignified lives, working in clinics, AIDS service organizations, health departments, churches and civic organizations. Looking back on all this time spent travelling around the South hearing about the health challenges and triumphs in local communities, there is one quote I really cannot get out of my head….
But first, a little back-story: In the past few months, I have been living outside the US – in Thailand. Here, busses with wooden flooring barely stop for you to jump on or off, there are five tones in the language (where “ma” has five different meanings, for each of the five tones), and it takes a month to figure out how to get Internet to your apartment. It’s exciting and exhausting at the same time. Every day is an eternity, in a good way. Continue reading