Why is it important to talk about Latinx Heritage Month and our diverse Latin American identities? – An invitation to join the conversation and celebration of our latinidad(es).

Each year, from September 15 to October 15, it is celebrated in the U.S what is traditionally known as Hispanic Heritage Month, when histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens and their ancestors who came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America are recognized and commemorated. September is also relevant for several Latin American countries celebrating their independence, such as Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile.

In this context, the Wikimedia Foundation, in collaboration with its first and recently formed Latinx Employee Resource Group (ERG), are organizing a series of activities that seek to open a space for conversation and celebration of our complex and diverse Latina/Latino/Latinx and Latin American identities across borders, and its contributions to the Foundation and the Wikimedia Movement.

For the purpose of this article and embracing Wikimedia Foundation diversity and inclusion values, we will discard the use of the term Hispanic, not only because of the colonial weight of that definition, but because Latinx as is more inclusive of all genders and the LGBTQA+ community. 

Diverse and complex.

Many discussions and controversies have been developed around the concepts used to characterize people of Latin American and Spanish-speaking origin living in the United States. Hispanics, Latinos/Latinas, and more recently Latinx, are the most popular terms used in the US to identify an extremely heterogeneous, complex, and diverse group of people, not only in cultural, racial, and linguistic terms, but also in how they identify and relate to each other. 

On the other hand, in Latin America and the Caribbean there have also been various efforts to define a Latin American identity and different thinkers have developed imaginaries that seek to delimit and shape it: Simón Bolívar (1783-1830) and “La Patria Grande”, José Martí (1853-1895) and “Nuestra América”, José Vasconcelos (1882-1959) and “la Raza Cósmica”, Gloria Anzaldúa (1942-2004) and “the new mestiza”,  are some examples that have marked the narrative of our identities across the American continent.

To put it simply, because we wish we could explain all the beautiful, the dark and the complexities that exists when we try to define our Latin American and Latinx/Latina/Latino identities, in our diversity there are some things that we share: diverse national, subnational, plurinational, subregional, ethnic, and linguistic identities, migratory movements, a past of colonization, slavery, genocide and contexts of profound inequalities. These characteristics cross the region from North to South, from East to West. 

Moreover, migrations have left a strong imprint both in the U.S. and Latin America as a place of origin, transit, and destination for millions of  migrants. This aspect has not only marked the development of the identities of entire nations in Latin America and forged transnational families, but has also allowed Latin American identities to transcend their geographic borders and continue their development and transformation in other latitudes, especially in the U.S.

In that sense, in the United States, according to the last census of 2020, more than 60 million people define themselves as Hispanic or Latina/Latino/Latinx, among which 45 million speak Spanish at home. Currently, Latinas/Latinos/Latinx are the largest ethnic minority in the U.S., with almost 19% of the total population and the Cervantes Institute even projects that, by 2060, the U.S. will be the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, after Mexico.

Additionally, considering that Brazilians are also part of this discussion, in 2020, it is estimated that there are 1,775,000 Brazilian Americans living in the United States and, according to the World Population Review, over 730,000 people in the U.S. speak Portuguese at home.

Considering the above and that this is a living and continuous debate, the activities that are being organized this year in the framework of Latinx Heritage Month, are an invitation to celebrate and think about our latinidad(es), not as something that starts at Cape Horn and ends at Rio Bravo, but as a transnational community that can add a lot of value to the Foundation and the Wikimedia Movement.

Why talk about and celebrate our latinidad(es)?

Most people in Latin America and the Caribbean do not identify with the Latino/Latina/Latinx concepts, nor do they celebrate Latinx Heritage Month; moreover, due to the complex relationship that exists between the United States and various countries in the region, and the still latent vestiges of the Monroe Doctrine (“America for Americans”) in some sectors, this celebration may seem out of place. 

Let us deconstruct this celebration and take advantage of the visibility that Latina/Latino/Latinx cultures receive this month in the U.S. and open a space for conversation and celebration of our latinidad(es) across borders to talk about the existing knowledge and representation gaps we face in Wikimedia projects.  

Considering that Latinas/Latinos/Latinx are the largest minority in the U.S., Wikipedia in Portuguese has, at the moment, 1,094,861 articles and 2,802,377 users, while Spanish Wikipedia has 1,800,524 articles and 6,633,335 users, being both the 18th and 8th biggest Wikipedias in the world, it becomes crucial to talk about how we can reduce content gaps on Wikimedia projects. 

Latinx Heritage Month activities in the Wikimedia Foundation.

With the desire to create spaces to talk, share, reflect and celebrate our personal and collective experiences as Latin Americans/Latinas/Latinos/Latinxs, our journeys of discovering who we are as individuals and our role in Wikimedia Foundation and Movement, we invite you to join us in the activities we are organizing in the framework of the Latinx Heritage Month from September 15th, 2022 to October 15th, 2022.

There will be six activities, spread over the 30 days, which vary in theme and format. Although most of the activities are for the Foundation’s staff because they are organized for building and strengthening our Latinx Employee Resource Group (ERG), on September 28, there is an open invitation to join a panel discussion about Latinx Identity with experts from the region and Latinas/Latinos/Latinx leaders in the U.S.

To the Wikimedia Foundation’s staff, we invite you to the following activities:

September 20th, from 15:00 to 16:00 UTC, invitation to join #WikiLovesLatinx

A Commons Workshop that will teach Wikimedia Foundation’s staff how to use Wikimedia Commons, take pictures, upload and use files on the Wikimedia platforms, especially Wikipedia in Spanish, English, and Portuguese. For this event, participants will be advised to take pictures from Latin America and Latinx-related cultures, upload them, and use them on topics that lack representation or that are among knowledge gaps. The training, a collaboration between Latinx ERG and South Asian ERG, will be led by ERG leads Giovanna Fontenelle and Satdeep Gill, Culture and Heritage Program Officers.

Friday, September 23 (21:15 – 21:45 UTC) Wikimedia Connects, we will have two events:

  • Online concert by MXKA (Moca) –  an American Black-Latina singer from the San Francisco, Bay Area. 
  • Latinxs in the Labor Movement –  a panel about the past, present, and future of the Labor Movement and how technology, including the Wikimedia projects, informs and helps this movement. The panel will be presented by Maximilian Alvarez, a journalist, teacher, and author that focuses on Labor Rights, and facilitated by Anthony Borba, one of our Latinx ERG leads.

Thursday, September 29 and 30th Latinx ERG identity workshop: 

This workshop will have the participation of Latinx ERG members to collectively decide our group identity, gaps and an action plan. The workshop will be facilitated by the Popular Education Consultants, an experienced organization in the management of popular education methodology, with extensive experience working with migrants and Latino/Latina/Latinx organizations in the United States and Central America. Registration is required through #latinx-erg slack channel (Maximum capacity of 25 people).

Friday, October 7th (15:00 – 17:00 UTC) Desculonization workshop by the Brazilian artist Kebra

Jenny Granado (KEBRA), is a Brazilian visual artist, performer and DJ, based in Mexico City and creator of Desculonización, a platform for the exchange of knowledge in which she experiments with music and dance forms -both in the way it is taught and the way it is exhibited-, from another place that is not necessarily dance. Her workshops and performances focus on the vital energy and ancestral memory that our diverse bodies have.

The workshop will have some theory, but also practice of twerk, baile funk and perreo moves. Registration is required through #latinx-erg slack channel (Maximum capacity of 30 people).

Activities lineup:

  • Tuesday, September 20 (15:00 – 16:00 UTC) — #WikiLovesLatinx: Commons workshop
  • Friday, September 23 (15:00 – 15:45 UTC) — Latinxs in the Labor Movement (Wikimedia Connects)
  • Friday, September 23 (21:15 – 21:45 UTC) — Concert by MXKA (Moca) (Wikimedia Connects)
  • Wednesday, September 28 (15:00 – 16:30 UTC) — Latinx Identity panel
  • Thursday, September 29 and 30th (16:00 – 17:30 UTC) — Latinx ERG identity workshop
  • Friday, October 7th (15:00 – 17:00 UTC) — Desculonization workshop by Kebra 
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