This month’s issue of El Sol Latino highlights the outcome of the Hispanic Family Festival (Festival de la Familia Hispana) celebrated last month in Holyoke. And although the images evidence the good times had, the paper’s editorial offers a biting critique of the tepid reception that Latino cultural events typically receive in the City by non-Latino’s. As an illustrative example, the editorial compares the Irish Day Parade with the Hispanic Family Festival:
There are […] important characteristics that seem to define the Irish parade […] (one of them being) the “Latinization” that the Irish parade has experienced over the last years. As the parade moves from the K-Mart Plaza to the downtown, the number of Latino spectators increases, wanting to partake of the celebration.
In contrast, the reaction of the non-Latino community of the area towards Latino celebrations is quite different. The participation of a significant part of non-Latinos in the Hispanic Family Festival and its activities is a “shy” one. The business sector does not provide an economic support that can be considered significant, enthusiastic or consistent, even though they benefi t from the growing buying power of the Latino population.
Taking a broader view of cultural parades, community blogger Natalia Muñoz adds a spanish-written op-ed piece titled “Enough of Parades that End in Nothing”, where she challenges the Latino community to use its cultural activities as a proactive forum for political organizing:
The Puerto Rican parade that was celebrated in Holyoke in July was more illustrative of what we aren’t instead of what we are. Yes, we are boricuas, and with pride. But we are not a political force, and that is why our culture is dwindling amongst flags and empanadas.
Puerto Rican parades should include a keynote speaker that infuses, inspires and organizes the boricua community. They should include kiosks with voter registration forms, information about political candidates and the issues that are at stake at the ballot. There should be kiosks with information about community organizations, not to see what they have to offer us, but what we can do to help the organizations, like serving as a volunteer at the library, at schools or the program that helps people with diabetes.
We are much more than what they think. We are artists, chefs, mechanics, teachers, entrepreneurs, students, a whole gamut of different people. They will never know that until we go out, not to celebrate, but to vote. Not even we know that yet.
In that spirit of political organization, page 6 describes the upcoming Latino Public Policy Conference on September 17th in Worcester, sponsored by the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy. Titled “Securing the Dream: Power, Progress and Prosperity”, the conference will feature the results of the Institute’s year-long listening tour through Latino communities in Massachusetts, including Springfield, Holyoke, Worcester, Southbridge, Lawrence, Boston and Dartmouth.
Rounding out the the articles assessing Latino influence, the latest edition of El Sol Latino includes a piece about a national poll of young Latino voters. As Jorge Mursuli, President of Democracia USA states, “This study offers incredible insight into the worlds that young Hispanics straddle as they grow up and develop a cultural, political and social identity in this country”.