Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the culture, history and contributions of Hispanic and Latino people throughout the country each year, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Latinos have historically been absent in popular culture and news media. Today, only 11 percent of news analysts, reporters, and journalists identify as Latino, despite the fact that they make up roughly 18 percent of the U.S. population. Research suggests that Latino communities are still underrepresented in their local news coverage.
Report for America is working to change this narrative. Twenty-one percent of its corps members identify as Hispanic or Latino, and nearly two dozen are solely reporting on Latino communities, with dozens more covering salient community issues. Through local, on-the-ground reporting, corps members elevate community voices, ensure accuracy and nuance, and provide much-needed representation.
We’ve rounded up some of the most important local reporting on Latino communities across the country:
- Only 3 percent of people actually identify with the word Latinx, which begs the question — what does the word Latinx mean, and who is it for? Vicki Adame delved into the hit-or-miss nature of the “Latinx” label for MPR.
- The Latino Hispanic American Community Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is hosting its first Hispanic Heritage festival since the beginning of the pandemic. This year’s celebration will feature a free COVID-19 vaccine clinic with bilingual staff in the hopes of eliminating vaccine barriers, reports Gabriela Martínez for WITF.
- Jessica Rodriguez reported for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Latino businesses were among the hardest hit during the pandemic, exacerbating pre-existing challenges for minority-owned businesses.
- On the Kansas side of Kansas City, 19 percent of students are Latino compared to 0.5 percent of teachers. Groups like the Latinx Education Collaborative are now working to increase the recruitment and retention of Latinx teachers in the area, Maria Benevento reports for the Kansas City Beacon.
- Latino communities were disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Iowa State’s University launched a statewide project, “Voces of a Pandemic,” to document the unique experiences of the Latino community, Kassidy Arena reports for Iowa Public Radio.
- After four years, Puerto Rican families are still struggling to regain a sense of normalcy after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Brenda León spoke to two different families about their life after the storm for Connecticut Public Radio.
- In Atlanta, the Rev. Irma “Mimi” Guerra is working to boost vaccination rates among the Hispanic population of her county — mostly through Facebook live streams of prayers and appeals to get vaccinated, Lautaro Grinspan reported for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Wichita State University projects it will soon pass 15 percent Hispanic enrollment and expects 25 percent Hispanic enrollment by 2030. It’s on track to become the fifth Hispanic Serving Institution in Kansas, and one of the first public universities in the state to reach the benchmark, Rafael Garcia reports for The Wichita Beacon.
- Gabriela Lozada’s series “Visibles” for New Hampshire Public Radio profiles different Latino members of the local community. Her profiles, broadcast in both English and Spanish, have featured local business owners, activists, and other community leaders.
- Former student athlete Luis Grijalva came to the United States from Guatemala when he was just a year old, making him a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient. His DACA status complicated his bid for a spot on Guatemala’s contingent for the Tokyo Olympics. Dan Casarez broke the story for the Visalia Times-Delta. It went viral and caught the attention of lawmakers. Ultimately, Grijalva was able to compete at the games.
- Students at Baltimore City College High School — an elite magnet school — first gathered together in 2014 to learn about Latin American culture and plan events for Hispanic Heritage Month. Now, Stephanie García reports, the club has transformed into an advocacy group and active alumni network that tackles inequity in their city.
- The 2020 Census was the first time that respondents were allowed to choose more than one race or write in how they identified. The change was especially important to indigenous Mexicans who now live in the United States, Nadia Lopez reports, because they hope it will bring greater visibility to their communities.
About Report for America
Report for America is a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities. Launched in 2017, Report for America is creating a new, sustainable system that provides Americans with the information they need to improve their communities, hold powerful institutions accountable, and rebuild trust in the media. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization with an established track record of training and supporting teams of emerging journalists around the world, including the recent launch of Report for the World in partnership with local newsrooms in India and Nigeria.