The results of the presidential election changed a lot for me. It changed the way I view the US, and the way I view myself as a Latina in the US. When I show up to work, I am no longer Yesenia the Challenge Detroit Fellow. I am Yesenia the Latinos are not all criminals, Latinos are educated, Latinas are not all maids, Challenge Detroit Fellow. I have essentially become a small Latino PR firm and I am not alone in this task. Over the past month, I have attended events hosted by MANA de Metro Detroit and the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce where statistics about Latinos were read like versus from a bible. The keynote speakers read impressive quotes about the upward mobility of US born Latinos, our high homeownership rate, commanding presence as consumers, and quoted the Pew Hispanic Research Center more times than I could count. Latinos in Detroit are obviously aware of their importance on a national scale. However, on a local level our importance seems less blatantly obvious; in Detroit, Latinos/Hispanics are only 6.8% of the population. As such a small portion of the overall populous, it is easy for Latinos to feel and be overlooked. Outside of Southwest, how often do Latinos come up in conversations about the City of Detroit? How often are Latinos included in conversations within the City of Detroit? The answer is not often. However, conversations are 2 sided- we also have to question, how often do we include ourselves in conversations about Detroit? The answer is not often. While these conversations do occur, they are occurring at events facilitated by Latinos for Latinos. It’s time that we change that. As Detroit is changing, we need to include ourselves in that change. We need to ensure Latinos are being built into the economic engines of Detroit. We need to ensure Latinos are being painted into the cultural and art scenes in the city. We need to ensure Detroit knows: Somos Detroit (We are Detroit).
How exactly do we do this? On a macro scale, I think we are actively figuring it out. On a personal level, this is how. I am fully aware that this blog has limited reach. However, for someone who a month ago felt so out of place at a race conversation that they were unable to speak, it feels like I’m doing my part- I am meeting myself where I am at. Latinos in Detroit, can you meet yourselves where you’re at? Latinos, executives, line workers, stay at home mamás and papás, students, and community organizers, let’s make sure Detroit knows: Somos Detroit.