I WILL BE THE FIRST TO ADMIT that I don’t know a lot about Richmond’s rapidly growing Latino community. That is why I’m so excited about our new installment of The Table. With the help of the wonderful people at the Sacred Heart Center, I was able to meet with a tremendous group of grassroots activists that work directly with Richmond’s Latino community to discuss some of the community’s challenges and goals as we approach November’s local elections for School Board, City Council, and Mayor.

This conversation is clearly just the start to what is one of Richmond’s most layered and complex issues moving forward. Richmond’s Latino community is here to stay. The community is growing and future leaders of the Richmond region will have to work with directly with the community to best address the needs of all people in the region.

I would like to thank the Sacred Heart Center and the amazing group that participated in the conversation: Rocio, Father Shay, Father Jack, Gustavo, Roberto, Vilma, Alex, and Cynthia. I’d also like to that Mary for helping set up the conversation and Risa (photos) and Jourdan (video) for their help capturing this conversation.

Please add your feedback in the comments and keep the conversation going. Follow The Cheats Movement for the next episode of The Table and the best in Richmond hip-hop culture and community activity. #WESEEIT


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Photos by Risa

1 Comment

  • Risa says:

    Listening to the recording of the Table discussion again and digging into more of the Richmond Latino scene since the day of our original event, a few things continue to strike a chord with me.

    First, that people STILL respond with, “What? There’s a Latino population in Richmond?” Do folks not notice the burgeoning Latino food scene and bodegas popping up all around? And do people not notice the race of those working a majority of the low-income jobs around town—Construction, gardening, window washers for the downtown high-rise buildings, bus boys at restaurants, etc. Secondly, that the Latino community here are from far and wide. They are diverse among their own population. Some are from Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua, and so on. As a result, unfortunately, there is further fragmentation within this community. The turnout at this year’s Que Pasa festival was huge.

    At the Table discussion I heard some frustration expressed that they are a group that seems to be passed over and invisible when it comes to their needs in Richmond. As Vilma pointed out they are a minority who finds themselves in a region that has a long and storied history among Blacks who have long fought for their own rights and recognition and are still fighting discrimination. The fact that the Latino community is fragmented because of their country of origin doesn’t help their cause. I wish there was a more of a central unifying figure for them in this region. The last time I went home (Southern California) to visit family, for the heck of it, I counted how many Spanish speaking radio stations there were on the airwaves. I counted nearly 20! There is ONE here in Richmond! I initially thought there wasn’t any. I had to search online to find that one on the AM dial for myself. By the way, it’s been around since 2003!

    I feel for this population that is struggling to unify, to find a central advocate and resource in a region where they are a minority among minorities. I hope the tides are turning in their favor. I recall the battle cry of “viva la raza” from my Southern California days—Chicanos using this phrase as a sense of heritage and pride no matter what their country of origin. Shouted at whatever rally, for whatever cause, sometimes just when cruising at the beach. “Viva la Raza!”
    –Risa Gomez

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