CommUNITY: The Importance of Latinx Spaces
We often hear that the “People United Will Never Be Divided.” This sentiment that is often used as a call to action could not be more true of the community that the Latinx population is and has created. The community that is created is one that allows for people to feel safe while embracing their culture. Spaces like this are unique because they can be seen in the personal and political realms. Latinx communities can be seen across age gaps, gender identities, political identites, religious identities, and sexualities. These communities showcase how important Latinx identity is and celebrates cultural diversity.
Latinx spaces are important because there is power in creating a set of social rituals which underpin a collective identity. Experiencing unity as a collective moves people from being mere individuals with a shared experience and/or identity to a group. Because there is no single way to define being Latinx, these spaces allow for intersectionality to flourish. This allows community members to experience the power of being a part of a group while maintaining a sense of individuality. This dynamic allows for all stories to be heard and validated.
By occupying different spaces, Latinxs are highlighting marginalized voices within the community and letting all people within the community have a seat at the table. The strength that comes with welcoming all to the table allows the Latinx community to better understand who we are and where we come from.
An interesting place to see Latinx spaces flourish is at nightclubs because club culture exists in every major city in the United States. Looking specifically at Latin Nights at nightclubs, it is easy to see Latinx spaces being highlighted. Not only is the music mainly in Spanish on these nights, but also every floor or room of the club showcases a facet of Latinx identity. Whether that is through the type of music being played or the way people are dancing, Latinx culture is being seen and participated in through different mediums. Additionally, the majority of people who attend the club on Latin Night are of Latinx descent. This is important in creating a community because it immediately fosters a sense of family and comfort. While the clubs can be a place to let loose and have fun, they can also show how Latinx culture is being celebrated. By showcasing the music, language, and dances of the Latinx community there is a sense of importance that is being fostered. This creates a sacred space where people who participate can just be.
Cultivating a sacred space is something that the Latinx community does in order to remain connected to culture. Being in a space where the sights, smells, sounds, feels, and flavors tap into cultural memory is important because it brings about the spirit of resistance. Latinx space is vital because it is about reclaiming something that is rightfully ours. It is about feeling powerful in your own skin and identity. Latinx spaces carefully cultivate sentiments of unity, which in turn creates a vibe from the distinctive characteristics present. This design allows for every Latinx person in attendance to feel valued and worthy. This is a unique experience because it allows for comfort and safety to be the priority. Creating a community rooted in culture is powerful because of how ethnic or class identities are prioritized by the specific local community and its racial and ethnic composition. Going to a place, whether it’s the club, school, a concert, work, or any other public space, and seeing people who look like you is the first thing that contributes to making a community.
The Latinx community is one that is reclaiming identity through race, class, gender, sexuality, politics, language, and religion. By occupying different spaces, Latinxs are highlighting marginalized voices within the community and letting all people within the community have a seat at the table. The strength that comes with welcoming all to the table allows the Latinx community to better understand who we are and where we come from. All of these components make up who we are as a community, and is something that I hope does not change. These relationships between my culture and identity shape who we are.
WORDS BY PHYLLIS TONNA
IMAGE FROM UNSPLASH
Phyllis Tonna is a Chicana who believes in creating a more just and hopeful world. Through writing and being in dialogue with others, she believes that change is possible. As a recent graduate of Regis University, who majored in Sociology, she knows the power of taking action and standing in solidarity with her community. She is grounded by the power of community and is committed to creating one!
Follow her on Instagram: @phyllistonna