Transforming the Narrative of the Latinx Community

From August 30–September 1, the Latinx House’s inaugural Raizado Festival will be a space of gathering for Latinx organizers and allies. The event, which will be held in Aspen, Colo. and livestreamed here, is set to feature talks on maternal health, wealth inequality, lack of representation in Hollywood, environmental justice, and more, along with film screenings and live music. The Latinx House cofounder Mónica Ramírez spoke with The Nation about the festival, creating rooted coalitions, and how culture and narratives shape policy.

Mara Cavallaro: This is the Raizado Festival’s first year. Can you tell us a bit about its origins and what motivated you to create this space?

Mónica Ramírez: [The Latinx House] was built with a lot of love but was also built during times of tragedy and hardship. In the building of the house, the El Paso Massacre happened. That was the introduction of our house to the world, when we organized the Querida Familia letter along with Eva Longoria, Diane Guerrero, and America Ferrera. Right after we launched, in January 2020…thousands of people from the Latinx community started to die of Covid. The farmworker community that I come from is one of them, where thousands and thousands of people died. I remember talking to Olga [Segura], and I said: If we are going to save Latinx lives, we have to do something that is so significant that it will grab people’s attention, and position our community so that people understand who we are and what kinds of change need to be made to finally address the systemic issues that have resulted in widespread death and harm. That was the seed that led to what is now Raizado Festival.

MC: Why Aspen?

MR: I had been to Aspen once before and it was a place that I did not feel welcome…and the irony is that Aspen is a place that has been built and sustained by Latinx people. We needed [the festival] to be in a place that is already considered one for leaders and thought-makers and change-makers, but also a place where we’d be in a position to reclaim space.

MC: How do you think through representation in these spaces? Because we also know that representation isn’t enough and—as Zora Neale Hurston said—that not all skin folk are kinfolk. Thinking beyond representation in spaces like Aspen, and Hollywood, of power, how are Latinx House and the festival working toward more structural change?

MR: Structural change will come by way of cultural change, and that’s a big part of what we do [at] the Latinx House. We were born with the belief that if we could change the way people see and think about us, that we would be able to change the way that people treat us. And that’s the law, that’s everyday people, that’s institutions. That was always the background—the foundation of the work that we do.

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