Latinx Voices Unveiled

What is this new term Latinx? What do others say about their identity? We address the various factors that influence identification in the Latinx community. Featured community members include: Cisco Aguilar, founder of Cristo Rey High School, and immigration attorney Jocelyn Cortez -- who share how they identify and what identity means to them. Hosts Monse, Nathalie, and Elsa discuss and share their personal experiences with identity in the U.S. as the children of immigrants, Ni de aqui, ni de alla.”

What is Latinx Voices Unveiled?

Preserving and sharing the life stories of Southern Nevada’s Latinx residents are important because these individuals and communities have played a significant role in our region’s history but are underrepresented in our historical record. Today, approximately 29% of Southern Nevada’s residents and more than 25% of UNLV’s student body are Latinx. Many Latinx residents have greatly influenced the progress of our educational system, multiple business sectors, politics, and cultural life in Southern Nevada. By collecting and preserving these oral histories, the UNLV University Libraries ensures that the perspectives of our region's Latinx residents are reflected in our collections so that present and future generations can learn and study more about their achievements, aspirations, and experiences.

This is Clay T. White, director of UNLV's Oral History Research Center. Support for the Latinx Voices Unveiled series is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, MGM Resorts International, the Commission for the Las Vegas Centennial, Mark and Mary Ann Haley, Envy Energy, and the Culinary Workers Union Local 226.

UNLV's Oral History Research Center presents Latinx Voices Unveiled series. Today's episode is brought to you by the Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Oral History Project, a UNLV libraries initiative to record the marginalized voices of the Latinx community. This series is produced by the UNLV Rebel Media Group. Hello, and thank you to tuning in to Latinx Voices Unveiled series. We're very excited that you guys are here and listening to us speak about the Latinx Project and everything that we've done with it. So, let me introduce myself. My name is Monce Hernandez. I'm a graduate student studying journalism and media studies. My bachelor's is in journalism and political science. My family comes from Mexico City, and to me, the Latinx Project is an opportunity to own our narratives and tell our stories the way we want them to be told. And with me today are Natalie and Elsa. Hi, everyone. My name is Natalie Martinez, and I am an undergraduate here studying French and anthropology with a Spanish and business minor. My roots stem from Colombia and El Salvador. And the Latinx Project to me means having the opportunity to show Southern Nevada the impact that our community has made in this city and the diverse experiences we have had throughout the history of Las Vegas. Thanks. Elsa, would you like to introduce yourself? Yeah, hi everyone. My name is Elsa Lopez. I am an undergraduate researcher here with the project. I am an elementary education major with a minor in French, for some reason. And my parents are from Mexico. My father from Mexico City, my mom from Hidalgo, and my reason for wanting to be a part of this project was initially because I thought this would be an amazing resource, because as a future teacher, I'm all about bringing multicultural education into the classroom and through oral histories. And that's a great tool to use, especially because this project is tailored to the Las Vegas experience. So yeah, to make a long story short, I love this project because it will be a great resource to researchers or to anyone who wants to learn about the Latinx experience here or Las Vegas history.

Thank you, ladies. Well, we're so excited to be here. We are part of the Latinx Voices Project. It is a student-led project where we, as UNLV students, go out into the community and record oral histories from people from all walks of life, from the Latino community. And basically what we're trying to do is capture the Latinx experience here in Las Vegas and record Las Vegas history through that perspective, which is something incredible. And I'm incredibly honored to be here and to be part of this project and to talk about it. So, to talk a little bit about this podcast, basically what we're going to do is listen to our narrators through clips from their interviews that we've specifically cut out and want to discuss and talk about. And what better way to do that than to start with the question we always get, what is Latinx or Latinx, depending on the pronunciation. And a lot of that has to do with identity. So before we start getting into the nitty gritty, let's listen to Professor Anita Tijerina-Revilla, former UNLV professor of Women's Ethnic and Latinx Studies here at UNLV, as she explains the history of the term and how it has evolved. So the word Hispanic is the most generic term that we use to identify our community. It was created by the census folk and popularized during the 80s, where they were trying to figure out how many people from Spanish speaking countries were in the United States. And so the US Census put all of us, including people from Spain and Latin America and including Central and South America, into this generic terminology, Hispanic. And what anybody who studies Latino studies or Latina studies or Chicano studies knows is because it prioritizes a Spanish, like Spanish ancestry, it prioritizes Spain as the primary identity. And Spain is, they're the colonizers, they're the ones who came to the Americas, committed genocide and stole the land from the indigenous people and simultaneously mixed with some of them, and that's how we became a people, right? We're mestizos, mestizas. And so, Chicanos and Chicanas, people of Mexican origin in the US, reclaimed the term Chicano. It used to be a term to call for the rights of Mexican American people. And so, again, anybody who studies the Chicano rights movement knows that that term is considered more political, more committed to community, self-chosen versus imposed. So Hispanic is imposed, Chicano and Chicana is self-reclaimed and self-chosen. Similarly, Latino and Latina was a national movement to reclaim an identity and reject the word Hispanic. So people from the Caribbean, Central America, South America, anybody with Latin American roots, including, you know, Mexico, adopted Latino and Latina as an umbrella term. Originally, we all called ourselves Latinos with an O because we thought that that included all of us, men and women. And so, you know, Latino signifies masculine, Latina with an A signifies feminine, so it signifies women. And so for a long time, we debated about how to be more inclusive of men and women. And so we said Latino with an O and backslash A, or if you wanted to prioritize women, you would do A first, then slash O. Then people say, well, let's put them together. So they did the little, what is that little at sign called? The at sign, I forget what it's called, but some people use that to signify gender inclusivity of men and women, but there's a critique of that because the O was surrounding the A, so masculine was surrounding the feminine, and maybe like, you know, so there were critiques of that. And so now, primarily people continue to use O and A to signify gender consciousness around including women, but because there are so many queer people and non-binary people, people who don't identify with either male or female designations of gender. They're called genderqueer, they're called non-binary, they're called gender non-conforming. We've created another term, it came from community activists and scholars as well, where we put an X at the end of Latino or Latina, so it's Latinx or Chicanx, to basically eliminating the gendered O and A. And people say the reason that we use X, there are different reasons, but the reason that we use X is because X is kind of an unknown, right? So if I call you a Latinx, I am not making an assumption about your gender identity. I'm basically saying you have the right to identify your own gender, regardless of how you present yourself. And so it's considered the most gender inclusive terminology and the most culturally, politically conscious terminology. It's either to use Latinx or Chicanx. If you use Hispanic, it's considered more assimilative, and assimilation is heavily critiqued amongst activists because, and scholars too, because if you're assimilating, you're trying to be more white. And usually that was what was imposed upon us by the US. The folks in power were basically telling us if you want to be accepted, you have to become more like white people, you have to stop eating, you know, your foods,

you have to stop speaking your language, you have to stop being so proud of your ethnic identity and basically become a quote American. So we just heard from Professor Anita Tijerina-Revilla on the history of Latinx or Latinx and how the term has evolved from something imposed on us with Hispanic to us reclaiming our identity and self-chosen over imposed identity. Before we start, I want to go around the table and ask you guys, what do you think about the term? I personally love the term. I love, and she mentions it, it's all about the inclusivity of the term with creating a non-binary term that anyone can identify with regardless of how they identify. And so I think it's something that's really beautiful in that sense, and it's something that kind of embraces all forms of identity that in the entire spectrum of identity, even though it's just one change of a letter with the letter X. And I think that's what makes it so unique. And I'm glad that we were able to implement that and be a part of this revolution with this project. I also like the term. And on top of that, I love how because there's an evolution of the term, and it keeps getting better and better or more widely accepted, it's almost like a reflection of how society and everyone is trying to be more inclusive. So that makes me happy too. And as for the X itself, I like the Latin and the X. It's my favorite of all of the different iterations we've had because as she mentioned with the X, it's kind of, it's almost like symbolic, like it's putting gender at the forefront. So it acknowledges that for a long time, you know, people of different sexualities or of the LGBTQ plus community or different gender identities, they've not been a part of this conversation. So it's almost like we owe it to show that we want to be inclusive. And with the X there, it's going to spark controversy, obviously, but I think that we, it is kind of like a moral responsibility for sure. Personally, I love the term. My only issue with the term is that there has to be more of an attempt to educate the older generations, like our parents, your average day folk that have not been exposed to the term, because a lot of the times when we do go out into the field and we ask them, like, what do you think of the term? They've never even heard of it, and they don't identify with it yet because they don't understand the term. So I feel like education has to be key if this term is really going to take off. And this is a term that primarily exists here in the States too. Outside of here, it's Latino, Latina. The X is almost non-existent. And so because it clashes with the Spanish language, like how do you use that in Spanish?


Well, you were recently in Costa Rica. Can you tell us what the people over there

thought about the term?

They were very confused. I would tell them about my job, and they're like, Latinx? What is that? And so I would describe, and they would just give me this confused look as to why people were so concerned with making it inclusive because. Like it wasn't relevant, almost. Exactly. Because culture is not so concerned with that's not the forefront of any political movements that are going on over there. So the X is not so prevalent there. It's something that doesn't exist there yet. They've heard about it because of what's going the revolution here in the States, but it's not something that they use over there. They're like, why are you concerned with that? Like, people should just be cool with it. And so, yeah, and I think it completely challenges the language itself. Yeah. And this project kind of takes like a snapshot of where we are right now with this term and the community with this term. And so I think that that's something also incredible about this project. Yeah. So talking about our other people we've interviewed, let's listen to Jocelyn Cortez,

immigration attorney and community educator, on her opinion on the term.

It means to me it's a new way of thinking about your identity, someone with roots, eventual roots, I don't know what level that may be from Latin America, but it certainly signals to me a new way of thinking. And so I think it's cool because the parts of the conversation that are being had in this Latinx sphere are things that weren't, you know, when I was in college nobody was talking about blackness in Central America or blackness in Mexico, black identity in places where people don't conceive that there's a black identity. It's either we're just white or we're indigenous or LGBTQ conversations within the Spanish-speaking community. So I think it's exciting. So that's what Latinx means to me, but I don't know what it might mean to someone else.

All right, so we just heard from Jocelyn Cortez, and she said it was a new way to think about your identity. And I think I really like that. And she also mentioned parts of our identity in the Latinx community that we don't really talk about, which is Black identity. In Latin America, there's this, you know, white and indigenous binary, right? You're either white or you're indigenous, but there's all, there were, we forget that slavery was also a thing in Latin America, and that there's communities of black people across Latin America. And so black identity is also very important. And it shows how the community has matured to face these topics and how this term is inclusive of all these different identities across Latin America. After listening to this clip, and after doing a little bit of researching on just the term Latinx in general, this was some very light Googling, so I'm not sure how correct this is because the origin of the term is very debated. It was used in 2004, around that time, but this term was used a lot in like Afro-X, Latin-X, and LGBTQ plus circles, which makes a lot of sense to me. And I would love to see, you know, how true this is, but it makes sense because like we listened to in this prior clip, a lot of the times we have to choose our own identities and the X seems like, I mean, it's something that's been used in LGBTQ plus communities, but then also it would make sense that because there are intersections there, Afro-X, Latinx, and all these different communities that don't have a term necessarily, like they don't have an official, quote unquote, official term, it seems logical that they would have to give themselves a term. Yeah, creating a term for how you identify because you don't fit the spectrum, right? The spectrum of identity. And I think this is great. This term is very revolutionary and you see that trend in young people throughout the generations they're trying to identify themselves and they change the way they They see themselves, right? Yeah, and after some quote-unquote to quote you're like googling Yeah, I also when I was looking at the history of the term It's a term that's more prevalent here in the West than it is in the East. So regional identity. Yes. After speaking with other, with students from like Wisconsin and Tennessee, I would say Latinx and they, some of them had no idea what that was either here and them being here from the States. And so explaining it, they were like, that is so cool. They were super intrigued by the X and how it's so inclusive. And I spoke with a friend from Utah, and he says he's a part of a Latinx student alliance. And he, exactly, so they have at Southern Utah University, they still have, they're also embracing this term.

Yeah, so when we talk about Latin American identities in the United States, there's various ways to identify, and each generation has had their own battle. So let's listen to Kelly Benavides, the chair of the Clark County Library Board and works with Clark County District D Commissioner Lawrence Weakley and how she describes the gray area of identity.

So that was a little bit harder actually, because like I said, we lived in a small town so and my parents wanted us to be submerged in the Mexican culture and the Spanish, I kind of lost my English. If you think of that age, you know, when you're that young, you know, you don't practice it, you know, you don't use it, you lose it. And so when I came to the United States, it was really hard for me because my English definitely depleted to the point where when I started the school system, I was in ESL classes,

which was interesting.

Because even though English had been my first language, I lost that. So going through school and being in ESL classes, I remember there was that stigmatism of, oh, you're in ESL. And now it's called something else, I believe. It's not ESL anymore. It's ELL. There you go. But back then it was ESL. Yeah. So that was interesting to change. It was always like, I wasn't, and I've always said this to people I wasn't white enough obviously to be American but I wasn't Mexican enough to be Mexican so when you're here they say oh she's she's Mexican but when I go to Mexico they tell me oh it's Chicana so you're you know you kind of like never belong. You're always like, yeah.

I really resonate with this because she's right, right? You're too Mexican to be American, but you're too American to be Mexican. So it's this gray area of identity and how you identify. So here we go back to our roots and where our parents come from and our family history and whether or not you're accepted where you grow up compared to where your family's from. And so I've experienced this myself, you know, going back to Mexico City, where my parents are from, and my cousin saying like, well, you talk funny. It's like, what are you talking about? I talk Spanish too. And it's like, no, you have like American mannerisms, like the um and the okay and the yeah. And so like, they get annoyed. But then coming back, now it's an adjustment to English. And so going back and forth in between countries and cultures, you do get into this gray area of identity, right? Like you don't feel like you belong in either place. But I feel like the term Latinx perfectly captures that

in, you know, you make your own identity.

I totally relate to what Kelly's saying. And I feel that at this point in my life, I have identified as a lot of these different, the different terms we've spoken about. So in the beginning of elementary school, I went to school in Colorado where I was the only Mexican kid there because I only spoke Spanish. I was like, that was my identity and also, you know, because the way I look, I'm definitely not white passing. And then I moved to Las Vegas and now I'm surrounded by other Latinx kids and like Kelly, I was in ELL. So now here it is a lot of Spanish and I feel that I am good enough. Like I don't feel that I'm good enough. Yeah, and it's a big deal when you're trying to figure out who you are as a

teenager. So yeah, you're always in this liminal space, just in the in between. And I resonate with what you said, Monse, about going to Mexico City, because I had the same experience when I went to El Salvador, and I was in whatever space I am, I always identify as Latina, because I don't want to be predominantly Colombian or Salvadorian. So I say Latina to be more general. Yeah, because you have that double background with your parents. So that's even trickier, like, which one do you

claim more? Like, you don't want to insult either one of them exactly exactly

And now you use Latina you said right? Yes, I use Latina and won't say you said you use I use Latina to Mexican Mexican American I there's multiple labels that I fit into I kind of use them interchangeably and so That's another thing we'll talk about but Kelly also mentioned like Spanish, losing her Spanish. And I think you also mentioned that also about like you lost your Spanish when you were young and your parents kind of like condescend you because like, oh, why can't you speak more Spanish? So we will be talking about language and what role it plays in identity later on in this podcast. Now let's listen to

Cisco Aguilar, chairman of Cristo Rey St. Valladares High School, an identity based on culture rather than terms, quote unquote,


Like if someone said, what are you, what would you say?

Oh, I'd say I'm Mexican. Yeah? And then people, it's really funny because in Tucson, in Arizona, you think that people identify, oh, okay. But I think here, in other places, people go, so your parent, you're from Mexico? I'm like, no. And so it gets into that discussion about what is your identity and I identify based off culture and the way I was raised and the way my family engages and just culturally, I guess

I would say it makes sense.

This really resonated with me because yeah, you don't have to be born in a certain place to identify.

Like your ethnicity.

Yeah, your ethnicity or your race or whatever. It's how you grow up, it's what your family instills in you, it's what customs and traditions you grow up with. We talked about this earlier, how too Mexican to be American, too American to be Mexican, but what if culturally you identify more with one than the other, even though you might have never been there or you go occasionally, right? And that has always been my issue. I've always said I was Mexican, but then you know people going to like no, but what really what are you? I'm like, well Mexican and that's not enough for them or like I'm from here or whatever. I see this in Religion too. There are some things in the Catholic Church that I personally don't agree with anymore That my family doesn't agree with so it's all about that value system that we set to that aligns with our cultures, too And so that was my experience with cultural identities and reference to religion too. Now let's listen to Irma Valera, the director of the Winchester Cultural Center, and her thoughts on the division through identity. Latinx community, I don't like that name.

You don't like the word, okay.

Yeah, I don't know.

It is a new construct. It's part of the evolution, linguistic evolution when you talk about cultural changes. Yes, the cultural changes. First Hispanic, and then Latinos, and then Latinx. I mean, we just try so hard to be included that we start making more divisions sometimes. That was something that Patrick told me, and he made me think about that. That is true. I said, I want to do this for the Hispanic community. He says, no, because you're segregating.

You can segregate yourself. And you can, when you want to do things just for you. We just heard from Irma Valera as she explains how we can divide ourselves through identity. And I think that's, that's a very real thing, especially here in the United States, the Cubans stay with the Cubans, Mexicans stay with Mexicans, Puerto Ricans with Puerto Ricans. A lot of times we can't see past where these people come from, or where other people come from. When in reality, this is everyone's from Latin American struggle or experience, right? They're very similar. Obviously, what country you come from, does dictate a lot of how you experience your life here in the United States. But I really think that she makes a point here that a lot of times we do with trying to identify ourselves as different, right, or as trying to make a community within a community, it really does segregate many people. And something that we see prevalent, you mentioned earlier that the Latinx term is something that we need to educate people about, especially cross-generationally. We're creating those generational divisions with this term, with not being able to connect with that older generation because this term is so new. And so it's just-

It's not accessible to everyone. Especially when you need to Google a lot to understand what it is.

It's not just something that you can see once and just know. Yes, and it's also very divisive because how do you want a community to identify with this term when the community itself does not see themselves in that term? That's the biggest issue. And that's the biggest issue that we've seen doing these interviews, conducting these interviews and talking to these people that you tell them like, oh, you're part of the Latinx community. And it's like, really?

I am?

I've never heard of it. So our job as educators, as people going out into the community and conducting these interviews is, you know, telling people, educating them on the term, on the evolutionary term, what it means and how right now that's a politically correct term and you know they can choose to take it or not but at least they understand the term and that's

the most important part. We also have to say that this isn't just an individual term. Anyone can use it and you can be used to describe everybody. Yeah, you can define what the X means yourself, right? So I think that's the best aspect of the term in that it allows for self-identification and claiming your identity. And which is a great segue to our next narrator, Edith Fernandez, Associate Vice President, Community Engagement and Diversity Initiatives at Nevada State College,

as she talks about claiming your identity as revolutionary.

And then there at UNR I met a woman named Emma Sepulveda, which if you're going to interview Latinos up north, she'd be amazing.

Does she come to Las Vegas for any reason?

I don't know if lately, but I can find out. She was Chilean and I learned about like the reasons why she came here was to escape an oppressive regime. And then she introduced me to one of her colleagues, who he was Chilean too, but he really helped me discover my Chicano identity through education. So mind you, he was not Mexican, did not identify as Chicano, but he was a professor in Chile and he was so well read. He knew everything about the Chicano movement. So, I did an independent study with him. I remember learning about the Zoot Suiters and then the LA high school walkouts. That's when I started reading it. And I had known about Cesar Chavez because of my sister, but then I read about Cesar Chavez, and so it kind of made it, it was different. But that's because of independent study. There was no Chicano class. People didn't call themselves Chicano. In fact, like, I think everyone kind of probably looked at me weird because I called myself Chicano.

What did it mean for you to identify as a Chicano?

It felt like it was a political statement, for sure, of like, I'm going to break your stereotypes and let me school you. Let me tell you a thing or two that you don't know because you're only given one version of history. You know, we've been here a long time. I have family that's been in Vegas since the 20s. And then back to let alone, this was Aztlan and this was Aztec and this was Mexico and hello, why do you think it's called Las Vegas and Nevada? Like those are Spanish words, people like hello, all of that, you know. So it was about political empowerment, the power that education gave you, and just feeling like, I know a thing or two, let me tell you, you can learn from me. And that was empowering.

I really liked her story and how she became empowered through education and reading. And then just to show the power of education. But unfortunately, she had to do an independent study to read all of this to have time to actually explore history because as she said, we're only taught one version of history. And Latinos or Latinx people are an asterisk or an appendix in the back of a history book, right? And it's really, it's kind of daunting to think about our history like that. We have to search for it. It won't learn from it from our teachers or professors unless we take, you know, Latinos in the US History course or do an independent study with a Latino professor that can tell you what to read, right? I feel like personally I have struggled with this as well And now you know, this is the first semester where I'm actually learning stuff about Latinos in the US and I really liked how she identified as Chicana and it was her way of, you know, reclaiming her culture, reclaiming her identity and the revolution that she caused, right?

I love that she is very conscious about how she chooses to identify because she recognizes that there is power behind what she wants to be called. And then she also mentioned that after all of what she's learned, she can pay that forward and teach other people about Chicano, Chicana, Chicanx studies. And sometimes the thing that will provoke those questions is just saying, I identify

as Chicana.

It's a political empowerment to be able to identify and claim an identity for yourself. And it really sucks that, you know, all of us here at some point have to really think about okay How do I identify when your average person or someone that's not a person of color doesn't have to think about that? Especially it makes me think about the boxes the forms that we have to fill out and check out. It's so Conflicting with our community that they make a separate question for us. They don't include Hispanic and Latino with the other boxes. They put it as a separate question, are you Hispanic or Latino? We have to identify what race you are and what your heritage is. And so I think what I really liked about Edith is that she really did her research to find out who she was, how she identifies, and what the stem of her identifier. So for example, you have Hispanic that has a more prevalent Spanish root to it and then Latina, which is a more general Latin root. So you're thinking about communities that have Portuguese and French roots as well because of the Latin origin. And so it's really, you have to delve deep, not just to look at your parents or your last name, it's looking at the history behind these terms too. And it's a lot of pressure. Their migration story. Exactly. Reasons why they came. So it is it is kind of a whole trajectory that we have to go through so that we can find ourselves and find a space where we belong. But the good thing about learning about things and doing research is that identity becomes something malleable that we can create and form, which leads us to Jocelyn Cortez again giving us another great clip on how depending on context, it might drive your identity.

There's ways we need to have conversations to make sure that we get changes made.

And you mentioned the generational gap. How would your parents identify themselves?

Gee, I don't know. Because, I think the baby boomer is a very U.S. centric identity. I suppose age-wise my dad would be a baby boomer, my mom's a young baby boomer perhaps. I don't know that they identify as much of anything other than Salvadoran immigrants. We're approaching retirement and just excited to be grandparents. And they are subscribers to AARP. So they wouldn't be considered Latinos or Salvadoran American? I think my dad very much is Salvadoran primero for sure. My mom is a little bit younger, absolutely Latina, proud Latina, strong Latina, and of course Salvadorian. I think beyond that, they're just thrilled to be approaching the years where they can enjoy themselves a little bit more after so much hustle, after coming here in their late 20s and having to start all over again. You mentioned earlier that you identify as South Dorian American. Do you identify as Latina?

Yes. And immigrant as well. I think she hits on two very important points on how first-generation immigrants, the people that come over, see themselves differently, rather than like the children they have here in the United States. I feel like my parents would call themselves Mexican rather than American, even though they're both naturalized citizens. And I think that's just context driven, because, you know, they'll never be American enough to blend in and pass for white. So they're like, why even try. But I do understand when she mentions context driven identity, depending on the room, depending on the situation, she might identify differently. And I think it speaks volumes to us as women in education and higher ed, that depending on the situation, we might identify differently, just so that we can be a voice for a part of our identity that's not represented in the room.

Yeah, I feel that way a lot. And we mentioned this a little bit before how it takes a bit of a bit more emotional labor to go in and speak for this population that maybe, you know, some people don't want to be the voice for a whole like ethnicity or race or or a group of people. So sometimes it's almost expected and that's where I'm like, that's not fair. I have a question. When you guys go and visit your families and you say you're from Las Vegas, do they ever think like, oh, Las

Vegas and the stereotypes associated, or is that not something they think about?

With my family, not so much because they've seen pictures of my home. But when I've, when I was in Costa Rica, it was definitely like that. They're like, wow, the strip and the parties, the casino, the gambling, all these things, and they would, I would tell them that and they would say oh, so you're getting guh Like that was because it over there getting guy if you're not from if you're from the States You're or you're not from Costa Rica or from Latin America You're automatically green golly could be from Europe and they will call you getting guh and I felt Personally whenever they would say I was getting that I felt personally Very defensive I would say I am NOT getting about it because over here, here in the States, gringa means you're from like the States. I believe I had that understanding. And I would say, yes, I'm from there. I was born there, but I am not from here. I'm a different kind. Exactly. I'm a different, I'm Latina. And the rest of the students that were with me from other parts of the state say, why does that trigger you so much? And I'm just like, it's because the history. You don't have the history of that term. And for Latinos, it's something entirely different.

Yeah, and half of Latin American views gringos or gringas. It's very negative. It's kind of like a word for a colonizer, a modern colonizer. Like, oh, you're here because you want to do your touristy things, but you're also going to take something away from us. It's very, there's a heavy connotation with that. And like I said, it's kind of equal to colonizer, so it's a very negative connotation. So if you're called a gringo or gringa in another country, just be aware that they have those thoughts.

They don't like you.


Which is funny because according to my Spanish professor here at UNLV, gringo was created during the Mexican Revolution. So that term comes from the pueblos in northern Mexico. When the US soldiers came looking for Pancho Villa, the Mexicans didn't want the soldiers to be there and they had green uniforms. So they would say like, where's Pancho Villa? And all they could say was green, so green, and go, like go away. So green go, like that's what they would say. And it evolved into a slang term to identify white people from the United States. So it does come from the Revolutionary War. Yeah, I just want to say that identity itself comes from different sources. You have regional, you have language, religion, like you mentioned, Natalie, different factors in our lives, different things that influence us, influence how we see ourselves and ultimately how we present ourselves in society. So identity is ever-changing because life changes, life is complicated, and who knows? Like you said, Elsa, what we will identify a few years from now.

Exactly. All stems from our values. And that's why one of our key questions in this project is always, how do you


And you will see different answers depending on generation depending on how long they've been here, depending on where they come from.

The things that they're passionate about, too. The things that they advocate for. Well, thank you everyone for sitting here with me today. Thank you listeners for tuning in. And this was our first episode of the Latinx Voices Unveiled series. Please listen to our other episodes as we discuss other topics such as food, art, traditions and celebrations, language, and the power of oral history.

And that's it.

Thank you.

Thank you for listening to Latinx Voices Unfailed series. Each episode features smaller parts of larger interviews with community members. These interviews were conducted by research assistants at the Oral History Research Center. To hear these interviews in full, contact UNLV Special Collections and Archives at 702-895-2234. Special thanks to Yoni Kessler for our theme music and to performing musicians Ricardo Arana, Tasos Taltakis, Marshall Peterson and Spencer Pfeiffer. Audio engineering by Ron George. Production engineering by Kevin Kural. This podcast is a production of KUNV radio and the UNLV Rebel Media Group. This podcast is a production of KUNV radio and the UNLV Rebel Media Group.

and the UNLV Rebel Media Group.

Transcribed with Cockatoo