Jaina Lee: I want to welcome you all on behalf of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and in our partnership with the Hinckley Institute of Politics and the S.J. Quinney College of Law for lending us this space. Thank you so much. And so for this October installment of Reframing the Conversation, I hope that you all get some meaningful dialogue, and if at least not that, the pizza.
So, anyways, we will go ahead and begin. Before our discussion, I did want to acknowledge that this land, which is named for the Ute Tribe, is a traditional and ancestral homeland of the Shoshone, Paiute, Goshute, and Ute Tribes. The University of Utah recognizes and respects the enduring relationship that exists between many Indigenous peoples and their traditional homelands. We respect the sovereign relationship between tribes, states and the federal government, and we affirm the University of Utah’s commitment to a partnership with Native Nations and urban Indian communities through research, education, and community outreach activities.
The Reframing the Conversation panel series brings in experts across campus and communities to spark important conversations about racism, othering, and safety. It is here where we address contemporary issues around campus and the community at large. And today is no exception. Our conversation on Decoding the X, will cover topics, such as, what does the X mean at the end of identity based terms like, like Latinx or Chicanx? How does it fit with other self-selected identities? And why is there conflict surrounding the use of these expressions?
The moderator for today is Xris Macias, director of the Dream Center. Xris is a first-generation son of immigrants and the director of the Dream Center at the University of Utah, where he works with undocumented students and mixed-status families.He has a master’s degree in education, culture, and society, where his research emphasis was on low riders being educational tools for marginalized communities. Xris is a foreign language and area studies fellow with the focus area of Latin America. He’s also the vice-chair of Chicana and Chicano Scholarship Fund, and he is fluent in Spanish and well-versed in Portuguese. Please give a warm welcome to Xris who will introduce our panelists for today’s discussion.
Xris Macias: Thank you so much for that introduction. Hope everybody can hear me with my mask. And by the way, thank you all for obliging us and continuing to wear masks indoors. That’s very much appreciated.
As she said, my name is Xris Macias. I’m happy to introduce today’s topic, which throughout my entire life has been a heated debate in some situations, right? And so we’re excited to bring this conversation to all of you today to really discuss different perspectives, different opinions, different ideas, and intersecting identities throughout what all of this means, right? The “X,” is not one, does not have one single meaning, but multiple. And for some people, the X does not mean anything, thus is not even used. And so we’ll be discussing some of that today.
One of the things that I want to mention is that, today’s conversation is not meant to be how the University of Utah is, or is not, adopting certain language. It’s simply, again, opinions, conversations, and discussion around this debate that does exist and discussion around our own identities as well. Before we get into all of that, though, I’d like to introduce our panelists who are here before you today.
Firstly, we have Cydney Caradonna, She/Her/Hers pronouns, is California-grown, queer Chicana, with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of California, Merced, and a master’s of arts in higher education administration and leadership from California State University, Fresno. She is now pursuing a PhD in educational leadership and policy here at the University of Utah. Welcome Cydney.
Next to her is David. David M. Leone is a fourth-year, first-generation student, majoring in recreational therapy with a minor in psychology with aspirations of working in the medical field. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, working out and taking part in multiple on-campus organizations, including but not limited to: First-Gen Scholars, Recreational Therapy, Student Association, Dream Center, ASUU, LEAP scholars.
And I can say on a personal note, that is a very short list of all that he’s actually involved in. So, welcome David.
Sitting here and to my left is Dr. Michelle Miranda. Dr. Miranda is an assistant professor at the University of Utah Department of Neurology, Division of Neuropsychology. She developed the first, fully Spanish speaking service in neuropsychology at the University of Utah. And she also provides pre-surgical evaluations for patients with epilepsy. Her career special interests include: cross-cultural neuropsychology, bilingualism in epilepsy, Wada evaluations for non-English speakers and mapping of language function, among other items. Please welcome, Dr. Miranda.
Originally, we had advertised one of the panelists as Agustin Tino Dias, who unfortunately was not able to join us
for other circumstances today. And so, today, we have joining us, in the middle seat, is Dr. Daniel Cairo. So Dr. Cairo, using He/Him/El pronouns, brings over 10 years of experience in leading programs that support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. As an educator and organizational leader, he has developed successful equity and inclusion programs and multiple institutions. Dr. Cairo serves as special assistant for strategy and operations to the vice-president for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Welcome Dr. Cairo.
A couple of housekeeping items before getting into our actual questions and panel. If you have any questions at the end of the conversation today, there are a couple of microphones on either end of the aisles here. Feel free to come up to those, to ask your question. For those who are joining us during the livestream, please add your questions on the box on the EDI livestream webpage. We will have some time for those, as well. If you see me pulling out my cell phone at that point, it’s because I’m looking at the questions to be able to ask them. I’m not texting my partner or anything like that.
A brief history of why we’re doing this and why the term exists before we get into all of that. Okay? So, decoding Latinx. Decoding the “X.”
Do we need a new word to describe ourselves as Latinas, Latinos, Latinx’s et cetera. We’re already a community with a myriad of identities. Nuyorican, Tejano, Cuban American, Mexican American, Chicana. So what is the point of another one? Up until the latter part of the 20th century, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans and others of Latin descent
were counted as White on the US census, and were largely identified by their countries of origin. That began to change in the 1960s, civil rights era. What Mexican American activists in Southern California established what they call the Chicano movement. That was followed by a push during the 1970s for Hispanic census category, which is officially adapted in the 1980s. Even though it’s existed prior to that.
Hispanic may refer to anyone with cultural and historical ties to Spain. This can get more complicated of course, but these are how they are officially defined, for now. Beginning of the 1990s, the terms Latino and Latina gained popularity. Latina refers to anyone with roots in Latin America and is not necessarily tied to the Spanish language.
Latin America, broadly consists of Mexico, Central America, South America, Caribbean islands. Often used interchangeably, though debated, Hispanic and Latino can have different connotations and regional uses. More recently, the term “Latin-x” or “Latin-equis”, which is a non-binary non-gendered approach to Latina or Latino, have become increasingly used by institutions and universities, including our own, and media outlets including New York times, Washington Post, and increasingly visible in Spanish language media like Telemundo, in an attempt to become more inclusive.
The “X,” in Latinx, however does not resonate with everyone. According to a 2020 survey by Pew Research Center, only about 3% of adults surveyed identify as Latinx. Other versions has come about in recent years, including Latine, which is a non-binary, non-gender way of saying Latinx, but using Spanish language grammar rules to reduce the anglicizing
of Spanish words. Just about everyone in the Latino, Latina, Hispanic, Chicano, Latin American Indigenous diaspora, have strong feelings about these labels. And in many cases has led to debate among our identities.
This debate itself can be seen as a by-product of colonial eraser of cultures, languages, identities, further filling the needs to find ourselves individually and as a community. For some of us, we think about embracing this tension and really leaning into the mess that is a term like Latinx, or the letter Latinx. This question, Latinidade, is not a singular thing, but one that is multifaceted and has lots of different history and experiences tied to it.
So today we’ll begin the conversation and begin to unpack and to decode the “X.” So with that, I’d like to turn time over to our panelists, to introduce yourself once again, if you’d like to add more aside from the bio that I read, and please tell us when you first heard the term Latinx and what was your initial reaction? Thank you.
Cydney Caradonna: Good morning, everyone. Again, I’m Cydney Caradonna, pronouns She/Her/Ella/Su. For me, the first time I heard the term Latinx, again, I have an undergraduate degree in Spanish, so I was really kind of prone to hearing about issues like these just by osmosis in my classes. But it wasn’t until I actually went into a writing class with a professor named, Iris Ruiz, and it was the first time I heard someone say, I am Latinx. And I was immediately like, “well, okay, what does that mean?”
Again, it doesn’t phonetically make sense in Spanish. That’s why we see the iteration of the Latine. And you see that a little bit used more widespread in Latino culture and especially specifically in the media. But for me, when I first heard it, I have to say, I felt included. And I’m sure that a lot of queer Latinos can speak to that experience because as a Spanish student at the University of California, Merced, even though I was a Latina and I was a Spanish-speaker studying Spanish, I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb in every single one of my classes. Because the Spanish language operates on a binary, and I don’t operate on a binary. So for me, it was a really big representation of what that could look like in Spanish. I immediately adopted the word. I have a little bit more of my own iterations, where I do identify as a Latina, but I am part of the Latinx population. Does that make sense?
David Leon: So my name is David. The first time I heard the word, Latinx, was probably like a year and a half ago or like two. So it wasn’t that long ago and it was here in higher education. And the first time I heard it, I was actually a little bit confused. I was like, “I’ve never heard this term and stuff.” Being born in El Salvador, and like going to school there for a little bit, you’re not taught these terms and it’s kind of like a conversation that’s held here in higher education, but I was a bit confused. So I asked questions about it and searched it up and kind of see what it was. But, I have started using it more often, now. I know you started to, I was like, well, Latino, but I do also prefer the term Latine, as it makes more sense in Spanish than Latinx.
Michelle Miranda: I’m Dr. Michelle Miranda, a pleasure to be here. Thank you for the invitation. I actually first heard the term through my social media circles. That’s where I first heard it. And my initial thought was, “What is that? You can’t say that in Spanish. I don’t understand what that is.” And I thought this must be from a bilingual millennial. To be fair, I am a bilingual millennial myself, but I had this sort of, this apprehension about it because you could not say it in Spanish. And I always think about my community and my parents, and whether they would be able to use a term like this. And so there are a lot of apprehensions and then I tried to learn more about it. So what I did was I read up on it
and figured out that the X was to be more gender-inclusive. And so that’s when my view changed in some regards. And I did start using it in more of my academic writing, where I would write Latinx.
However, I am a clinician, I am a neuropsychologist. And so I do see patients. Mostly, I see patients who come in with memory problems. So that means an older generation. They still do not use the term. So when I’m around that space, I use what they identify with, and so still Latino/Latina terms. But sort of an interesting term and interesting topic to discuss here.
Daniel Cairo: Hello, everyone. I’ll open with, Tino’s so cool. I’m sorry he couldn’t make it, but I’m here, thank you for inviting me. So Tino, if you’re watching this, hey, come back to another panel. So what I want, first of all, let me start with, thank you. That really resonated, which is why I was excited to be part of this conversation, because it is an ongoing topic. A couple of weeks ago, I was having this conversation with my niece and she was like, “No, like focus on the new generation.” I’m like, “But you’re the new generation.” So it was, it gets kind of heated, and I’m glad to participate.
The first time that I heard this was actually when Pulse happened. And so, the X has a real queer visibility connotation in how I understand it. Before San Francisco, you know, we were all like Chicano at the time. It was like Chicano, or Latino, right? And then Pulse happened. And then I started seeing social media and folks who were using the X. And I started, and I was just like, wow, like young people are dope. Like young people continue to show us the ways in which we need to be more inclusive and connected. And, you know, people were responding to me like, “Dude, where did he get the X?” I’m like, “It wasn’t me. It was like, young folks were saying like, we are here. We need to be seen. This is important.” And so the X to me has a very, again, a queer connection, a visibility connection.
But it’s also a reminder that young people continue to tell us and show us, “How is it that we can be more inclusive?” And so, yeah, it was a pretty eye-opening. Not only because of what happened, but in how we were communicating who we were.
Cydney Caradonna: If it’s okay, I’m going to add to that. I think that touching on Pulse brings the east coast into this conversation, which I think is actually a really important like, piece of this conversation because there are people who are on the east coast, who are in fact part of the Latinx conversation, but based on their phenotype, we would not assume. And I feel like that’s where the X really comes. It’s beyond, yes, gender is a super big thing. But a lot of those people who did perish in the Pulse shooting were Afro-Latinos or a part of the Afro-Latinx community.
And again, you hear us stuttering because it doesn’t quite make sense in Spanish as we say it. But, I believe that the Latinx word is an iteration of bilingualism, for sure. And it’s kind of this rising up of that population, but, it leaves room for people like the populations in Cuba who were part of the Chinese diaspora. Who are fighting constantly to be seen as Latinos. And I feel like that place for them sometimes is the X. And I also really, really emphatically believe that as Spanish-speakers we do have the right to defend that, “Hey, the X doesn’t make sense to us.” And we can find our own iteration and it’s okay to do if/and or both/and. And I definitely said that wrong, but both and this. It’s okay. We are such a diverse race that we’re, it’s okay to diversify our language.
Daniel Cairo: Since we’re moving conversationally, I think it’s come up a couple of times now that it doesn’t roll off the tongue, it’s not natural to the language. Right? So, you know, my more angry part of myself comes out. Like, well, Spanish didn’t roll off the tongue when it was first colonized and introduced into the Americas. Like, so we’ve found ways to make language work for the moment. And so, and I don’t mean to sound so flippant. But you know, when that argument comes up, I guess, I’m not interested in defending the purity of a colonial language, right? As close as it is to our hearts, we adjust and we move. We just switch code-switch to connect and to be with people. How many “apodos” have we given all of our cousins, right? That is like who they are. So language really molds and becomes, you know, a tool for seeing each other, in changing culture and, affirming who we are.
Michelle Miranda: So that was my initial problem with it. Is that I actually thought, initially, this is an English neologism. This is not Spanish. And that was my concern with it. You know, Dr. Salinas, in his writing, he talks about how language is a tool for colonization. And I was thinking, why are we using an English term? [laughs] You know? And so maybe, maybe it is Spanish. But even Spanish, is that our original language? Thinking about these processes are important, but also, being mindful of how people choose to identify themselves is also very important.
David Leon: Also just wanted to add that us being able to have this conversation, in here, right now, is a privilege. It’s in higher education that this conversation does happen, and this conversation needs to start happening in our countries. As that is not something that is really used, and that’s the reason that this term is not used a lot. It is just cause it is, like, “it was made by like White people. They’re using it,” and stuff like that. It doesn’t flow very well and not a lot of people are using it. And that’s, like, one of the big arguments that people are using it. And it’s a privilege that we can have, like, this conversation here. And that’s just something that we have as we’re in higher education, but not everyone has this. Like, like they’re not able to attend, like, higher education. And that comes, like, from poverty. So, just wanted to keep that in mind.
Michelle Miranda: But, that’s where this word came from. Is from an academic setting in 2015. It was academic writing. And so I think that that is something that has been brought up, also, is that, is this word only for use in academia and social justice circles? And that’s basically sort of where this word is being used more often. Is in academia and social justice circles. And so is this word from the ivory tower? Things to think about.
Xris Macias: Some of those points that y’all bring up are important, right? Especially in terms of just language itself. If we’re stepping away from identity for a moment, language itself is constantly evolving, as we’ve mentioned. For someone like me, for example, I mean, I spell my name with an X, right? But I do not call myself Latinx. I will use that term in reference to maybe a population as a whole to ensure that I am being inclusive in the sense of what we just talked about. Academia and social justice and whatnot. When I’m at home, I may change that term. Because I’m not in those circles, necessarily.
But the reason I spell my name this way, and have adopted this, is for language and decolonial purposes. Not necessarily for inclusivity. Because my identity is, even though I do have intersecting and multiple identities within myself, it’s the way that I identify. And not to be inclusive of those that have a differing identity, because I don’t share that with them. If that makes sense. My inspiration for the X, for my name, particularly comes from Malcolm X. Where he asked people, “What was your name, before, your ancestors were brought to this country? What was your name? And why do you not know it now?” Right?
And so that question resonated with me in reading about him and learning about who he was. And so that really sparked some of that change to say, I actually don’t know my own history. I actually do not know my past. And so I had to research it to find out which bloodlines connected to Indigenous cultures where my family is from Why, in the country that my family is from, the X is pronounced so many ways, right? We might say that we’re from Mexico but we’re from “Méjico”, right? Or we visited Xcaret recently, or we visited Xoximilco. Which are different ways of saying it already. So to me, it’s about the decolonization of the language. And then it comes with inclusivity when I talk about and refer to others. Not necessarily for myself, if that makes sense.
But since you all brought up some of these terms about being academic and being institutionalized, how can we make sure that these terms are not just because they’re trendy at an institutional level? Or because research is using them?
Or to show that a university is being inclusive, in some ways, just by using that term? So what I mean is, how do we ensure that there’s more to the X, or Latinx, than just performative allyship?
David Leon: I think that really starts with talking with our families. A lot of our families are very conservative as it is. Like people from Latin America tend to be with, they’re very proud of, like, their roots. But it’s not always the case, but they, like, if you talk to them about it and like the reason why it should be, like, being used, I think they like to tend to understand. So, we need to have these conversations with like our family, our like younger siblings and stuff like that, so that they can start using it and it gets carried on as well. They don’t have to identify with it. Like Xris was saying, they just have to know the term. It’s to be inclusive and love everyone and treat them by what they want to be treated as.
Cydney Caradonna: I love that you brought up like family life because specifically for the Latinx community, I feel like we are constantly within a place of tension with tradition. And I feel like that’s a big part of why this is such a quote-unquote difficult conversation right now. And I think bringing that to the forefront of the university, it’s kind of, because of the same reason. Our families are a product of their traditions and a product of colonization, as is the institution.
So it’s kind of fighting the same fight at home and then here at the institution. And I think that first starting at home is definitely a good place because those are sometimes, I don’t want to say the easiest conversations, but the most honest. A lot of times I feel like as Latinx people, we feel like we don’t belong here. And I think that a part of that, especially in a place like Utah — we can all name that — that we are part of this conversation. This is the first time I’ve ever seen this many Latinos in a room. This is the first time I’ve chosen to speak up about these issues. So I think that not to say like, “Oh, let’s put it on our backs and let’s go change the institution,” but we need to be part of more of these conversations. We need to make sure that our voice is heard. Yes, the administrators can, the allies for us, can do X, Y, and Z, but until they hear it from our voices and see solidarity amongst all of us…
And I know that Utah has a little bit of a different history. I’m from California. So most of us are Mexicanos or Chicanos. Whereas here, I see Peruvians, Guatemaltecos. I see everything. So I understand that it’s a totally different conversation because we all have different histories of colonization. So sometimes we approach the issue differently. But if we can all at least know that we want to have a voice. I think that’s a really good start. And as far as the performative issue, I really want to make sure I touch on that. The X can definitely feel performative. I feel like I should say that. That when, I will feel somebody call me Latinx, and I’m like, you’re just calling me that ’cause you see that I’m queer. Do you really understand what that is?
And I think the first step is having more conversations like this and really defining where it comes from. And I do want to add too, to a point that you made “Doctora,” is that, the first time the word was actually used. And again, that was probably first established as used in 2015, was actually on queer message boards. It was like, okay, how do we talk about ourselves? I’m a Latina. And I struggled to show my queerness around my community sometimes. So it was conversations like that. Again, sometimes it comes from us, but the work doesn’t have to be ours.
Daniel Cairo: So many thoughts. I was trying to keep them down. So, I hope they connect. So here we go. What’s interesting about this to me, is that we aim to find almost like a definitive answer to the X, our positionality in X, right? You can be with your “tios”, your “tias”, your community and say, “Soy Espanol, Soy Latino”, and everybody’s cool. But as soon as you introduce the X, which to me is very queer, is very gendered. You know, it has that connotation of sexuality. That’s when everybody loses their, you know, their, “ganas” to understand and just let people be, right? And so like, I guess for me, I don’t want to lose the part that the resistance to this to me is very rooted in people’s resistance to gender and inclusion, of sexuality inclusion, what that might be, so that’s one of the things that comes up.
The other thing that comes up is I think I want to problematize performative allyship. What is the bar for allyship? Do we know what those individuals are doing or not doing in order to dismiss it as performative? And so, I do get those experiences, right? Like, you know, microaggression, and then they throw in like the X. I’m like, you actually, you actually don’t see me. It feels performative, but that is based on experience. So it’s hard for me to say who may be doing it or not. Depending on some of those other pieces of data.
Michelle Miranda: Thank you, Cydney, for the correction. I appreciate that. I think my perspective on this is first, I think we need to have an understanding of the X or “equis” because I think the beautiful thing about it is that it is something that is fluid and it is something that we can choose how we define it. I know I’m going back to the literature a lot, but you know, in the literature sort of, people have very different ways of defining it. It doesn’t just have to be about gender. It could be about other things.
There were discussions about how it could be from the Nahuatl language in central Mexico. And so that’s where the X started from for Chicanos of the Chicano movement. And so it could be something like that. It could be inclusivity for Indigenous communities, also. It could be inclusivity for our Afro-Latinos. So that’s the beautiful thing about it. Is that it could be fluid, and we can choose how we define it. And so if we’re going to use it, we have to understand what it means and basically be able to identify it, right? So not just using it because that’s sort of, what’s cool or what’s trending, but using it with a purpose and with intention. And so when someone asks you, “Why are you using that?” You should be able to respond. So institutions right now, a lot of people are using this word, but don’t know why. And so first, is being able to define it. So these conversations are very important because that’s where we gain our understanding. And we get to sort of start defining it.
Now, the piece about performative allyship, that’s very important because a lot of people are doing that nowadays. That’s a big, big problem. And so it can’t just be about the language. The language is important, how we identify is important. Absolutely. But it can’t just be about categorizing people. That’s sort of what we use language for. And people use it to sort of make it easy. Like, I want to put you in a box, help me understand you, you need a category. The thing about Latinos, I’m going to use the term Latinas, Latinx, is that, where there’s a lot of heterogeneity. We don’t fit any of the boxes that have been created for us. And so that’s the beautiful thing about these terms. And so that’s the thing about performative allyship. It can’t just be about the language. And, but first, like if we’re going to use the language, using it intentionally. Allowing people to identify and define themselves is very important.
Xris Macias: I think that that last point is absolutely crucial, right? One of the discussion items that I heard in preparation for all of this was, English itself, as a language is non-gendered. We can say you’re Hispanic or Latin. Which could be inclusive for everybody. Right? And so it’s important to bring up all of those items to say, we go beyond just being non-gender to be inclusive of all of those other folks and other identities beyond just the gender and sexuality piece. Can you all speak a little bit to that part of why it’s important to go beyond just non-gendering and the English language?
Cydney Caradonna: I’m going to start by saying the words, “Latin” and “Hispanic,” neither of those are gendered, but they both have negative implications for our people. And I understand that not everybody thinks that, but the word “Hispanic” has some pretty negative history to it. There were parts of history in this country where if you had a Hispanic-sounding last name, you were automatically in a certain program that made you take second grade, three times. That’s a real thing that happened in this country. So that’s part of the reason I don’t like the word Hispanic. Because it has, if you had a Hispanic-sounding last name, that’s why. That’s my bit on the word “Hispanic,” because it has some really negative political history.
And the word “Latin,” again, I think has a very Eurocentric meaning behind it. And I think that that is what we are trying to eradicate with the word X. And I understand that even then, because it comes from English, it is a very Eurocentric way. I think this kind of dynamic nature of the Spanish and English bilingualism, I guess I’ll call it that. Is it’s fluid. And I think that the word “Latin” wouldn’t cover Brazil, that wouldn’t cover “Brasileños.” What would they then be? Because they’re not Portuguese. They speak Portuguese, but they are not Portuguese. I think that sometimes adding things like the X can again be problematic, and we have different iterations.
I love that you brought up the Indigenous kind of origin of it, because when I see Mexicano, I see “Mēxihcah.” That’s the word I see. Some people here may have no idea what I mean, but the word X or the letter X can have so many different sounds. It’s where the word Chicano came from. It was first spelled with X-I-C-A-N-O. Xicano. It’s not Chicano, that’s where the origin comes from. So again, that’s where I see the X coming from. And I understand that not everybody does, but if sometimes if that helps to have an Indigenous identity to it, I think that brings a little
bit of peace around the word and its maybe Eurocentric origin.
Xris Macias: Other thoughts? Go ahead.
Daniel Cairo: I’m thinking about the, earlier question that was coming up and how do we use it? How do we name people? I think for me when speaking to someone, I wouldn’t give them a label. And I think what we forget, or get lost in these conversations, even at the interpersonal, is that people should be able to name themselves and call themselves what they want to see. And honor that. So when someone comes in, I think you were mentioning it, and they see themselves like that, then we need to affirm and be there for them. And so, that’s some of the interpersonal and the more, you know, approach or how I use it.
I think that the X really, for me, is a place to acknowledge those individuals who are probably the most marginalized within our communities who are, whether it’s because of gender, sexuality, indigenuity, right? But it’s really to give, to hold space for the individuals who exist in the margins, because a lot of the resistance that I hear are individuals who can exist within the norms that are dominant within our community. And they’re going to be the individuals who are loudest. But I want to affirm and create space for the individuals who are saying, you know what, Latina, Chicano. I identify as Chicano, but it was hard. It is so, hyper-masculine in the spaces that you occupy. Even that is complicated. So people are saying, you know what, I am part of this community, but I am more complicated than this. We need to affirm, validate, and make space for those folks.
Xris Macias: Which I think is another valid point in the introduction that I presented, is that according to the Pew Research Center, 3% of people are using Latinx, officially to refer to themselves and their communities. So, based on that, it’s still important to give that time or to give that space for them to identify themselves, however they wish, and for us to be able to use that in terms of referring to those folks, right? And I come back to that if only 3% of people, everything you just said is still valid saying, we still need to create that space. Can you all address that a little bit more, please?
Cydney Caradonna: I feel like we’re at a very, very important point in history. If it, like, you could just sit there and like, if you were to take the wind, like it smells like change. Like we are in a place of change. And I think that if you really look back at the history of our people, even the word Chicano, was a word that was used as an insult for such a long time. It actually was like loosely translated to the word that means jester or fool. It was used as like, “Oh, Chicanos are calling themselves fools.” That’s why you see signs that says Chicano means power because we, there is a reclamation of language.
And I feel like that’s somewhat what we’re doing with the X, because we were taught that the Nahuatl language was something that we couldn’t use anymore. So to me, that’s where you see that kind of reclamation of our terms. And I think too, that we’re in a point in history, where again, it’s a young millennial word. Like that is such a fair argument, such a fair argument. Because at the end of the day, it was young Chicanos in east LA schools that were starting to use that word as a means of power and walking out because they weren’t seeing that their culture was being supported in the LA school system. So I think that we’re just at that point in history and I’m no fortune teller, anything like that, but I think that we’re at a point where we’re seeing this word, we’re having these conversations. At some point in history of UCLA, they were doing the same thing about the word Chicano. I think that we’re just at that point in history where we have agency over how we decide to use it.
I really wanted to speak to like this idea of like researching Latino people or Latinx population. We are such a diverse population, that really trying to say, like, put a quantify us, is hard. So I really personally, as someone who’s studying research now, as a first-year doctoral student, I take that 3% with a grain of salt. Because at the end of the day, we are so diverse and how can you encapsulate us in one survey? So that, that’s how I feel about that.
Michelle Miranda: Absolutely. And so to that point, it feels like people want to make it easy to identify us, right? Like it feels like people need a category. So tell me how, tell me how to identify all of you together. And that just does not work, and why should I make it easy for you? Stop it. [laughs]
But also to that point, you know, we’re talking about groups that are marginalized, you know. Have a history of discrimination, oppression. Our non-binary sisters and brothers have suffered a lot. And not just them. Like all of these groups that are marginalized, they get to identify themselves, you know, they get to tell us how to identify them. There is a space for everything, I think. I think what we’re doing is we’re trying to look for a way to make it easy. It’s not, and that’s okay. It’s just, okay.
Xris Macias: David, I think you had something, go ahead.
David Leon: Yes, I also just wanted to add, it’s only been six years since, like, the term has started getting used. So it’s no surprise it’s only 3% of people using it out as a term to identify themselves. And not everyone has to identify
under the same term. We’re never going to get 100% identification in the same term. So that’s something that we have to keep in mind. And like I keep saying, we don’t have to all fall in one category. So there will still be people that use Latino, Latina, Latinx, Latine. It’s only been like six years, so it’s only going to keep growing if we keep having these conversations. We just got to make sure that we are having these conversations and educating people on like what it means. And I’m sure it will, like she was saying, it will keep growing. We’re at a time of change and a lot of things are happening. So if we keep this up a lot in having these conversations, it will create space for these things to keep continuing growing.
Daniel Cairo: So two points. One, you made me think when I lived in Chicago. I was doing some community work with public education and we had to get a message out to people were like, “Oh, put it in Spanish!” And the message kept going. I’m like, “I swear I already edited this.” But then we realized we had someone from Guatemala, someone from Puerto Rico, and someone from Mexico, all trying to edit and send a message ’til finally like, “Okay, who’s the community right now?”
“It’s Humboldt Park.”
“Let the Puerto Rican dictate how we’re going to be talking to folks.”
Right? So we’re not, we’re not the same. And there’s a lot of commonalities and there’s a lot of difference. And I like that. Let people know what they honor, and validate how they want to call themselves.
But to your question, Xris, when I hear the 3%. What comes up for me is like, I wonder if people think like, it’s just because it’s an academic thing. I guess the point that comes up, or that I want to make is that, whether it, you know,
it started in queer boards or popularized in academia, because it happens in academia is not inherently bad. And I think that when I hear that. I think we tend to dismiss like, “Oh, you know, like a whole bunch of ivory tower folks.” There are problems if it stays there and it doesn’t actually connect and advance the work that we’re doing in communities, right? But, you know, just because it’s academic, to me it’s not inherently bad, but it is a call to actually do something with knowledge, with the language, and connect with folks.
Xris Macias: I find it very interesting how in this diaspora just in the people here, we have a certain identity, whether it varies from each other or not. But we also have to carry all of this history with us. We have to be our own storytellers.
We have to be our own researchers. We have to be our own intergenerational memory carriers just to tell you how we identify. And so we carry that burden, but also that wisdom at the same time simultaneously. Just to be able to say, “Yo soy Chicano. Yo soy Mexicano.” Right? Or something along those lines. And so just the conversation today, I was taken a little aback, even though we were preparing for this, to kind of really see how much we all have to know about ourselves, to say a word or add a letter, right?
Daniel Cairo: Xris, your comment made me think of, and I’m going to totally butcher this quote by Sandra Cisneros. In terms of what we carry, right? When someone calls her Hispanic; someone if knows a quote, edit me, all right?
When someone calls her Hispanic, is how they see her as relation to like the Anglo culture and they call her Latina, is someone that sees and affirms the history and the richness that comes with being a complicated person.
That’s not the actual quote, but that’s what I remember from the quote. So your comment made me think of that. Check out the quote. It’s really cool.
Xris Macias: We’ll look it up, Dr. Miranda go ahead.
Michelle Miranda: What I was going to mention is that Yes, so we basically have to not only carry all of that, but then also educate others, right? So we’re, the burden is on us to always educate others. And that is not necessarily
our responsibility. But also when we do have, when we do create these spaces, look at who’s here. Look at who participates in these conversations. Why aren’t there more people here, you know? We’re in an academic setting. Where are all the faculty members? And so it, this is hard.
Xris Macias: Absolutely, and with that, we’ve already kind of addressed this just for the moment, but to leave or to close our conversation. Before we turn to questions with some sort of action item, we’ve kind of, like I said, I kind of addressed it, but can you all perhaps briefly share what are some things that institutions can do or that we can do at the University of Utah, to think beyond these terms and be really inclusive of identity. And also, how can we think of cultures and people beyond what we’re doing today. Which is Latinx Celebration Month or Latinx Heritage Month, right? So what are some suggestions that you all have to go beyond that?
David Leon: I was going to say holding these conversations, not just in National Hispanic Heritage Month, holding these conversations throughout the whole like year and stuff. These conversations can be had at anytime. And there’s a lot of different resources on campus that help with these conversations and help students that identify as Latinx, Latino, Latina. And they like giving them more resources. Being able to like push for those places, to have more resources and be able to do more things. And not putting them in the outskirts of campus, I think is a way of like helping these places grow.
Cydney Caradonna: I’m really lucky in the sense that I have faculty that knew I was going to be up here and definitely showed me towards some research on this. Dr. Lawrence Parker, if you’re watching. But, like the university-like ecosystem for lack of a better word has such big implications for how Latinx folks first view themselves, because that’s the first lens as, once you become a student, that is the lens you see yourself through, primarily. I think a lot of us
can resonate with that. So whatever the university says we are, we’re going to at least take that into consideration at least this much. And sometimes for others it’s this much because we don’t feel seen.
And I would say that from the research I read, it goes beyond Latinx folks by default, have a political identity just by way of our diaspora. By way of our roots, and I’m going to use a pretty brutal word, and by the end of the day, we are a bastardized race. That is why we are so diverse. Because we are a bastardized race. So, I think first understanding history, and understanding the history of what institution has meant, both for Chicanos and as an exclusionary practice. I think affirming that I’m a big proponent of the idea that we really need to start with history. We really, really need to start with history because it has so many implications for what we’re dealing with.
Now, I really agree with you in this, like, yes, it’s Hispanic Heritage Month, but we could, we could talk about this any day. And even also adding that, not a lot of people know that Hispanic Heritage Month is from September 15th
to October 15th. And that’s intentional. Because they’re essentially all of the days of… independence. I was gonna say “independencia.” The independence days all took place in kind of this weird part of the year. It wasn’t one calendar month. And I think having conversations over why that is, and specifically, I don’t identify as South American. I’m again, Chicana. But having conversations around just the kind of kaleidoscope of Latinx identities, I think is a really good way to approach it because that’s, you have to rectify history through that.
Daniel Cairo: I’m gonna get hate mail. [laughs] I’m not. What I would love to see in our campuses, you know, as aspirational as to where we’re going, I would love to see cultural markers of our people, of the other of marginalized empowered folks who are on this campus. Not just in our cultural centers, but throughout our campus where we can see each other. There’s a beautiful mural in CESB that is tucked away in the corner that you have to know where to go look at it, right?
I would love to see those, you know, as part of our geography as to who we are, our contributions here is what we do, right? So I think that would be a piece. I’m also really glad for our, you know, our Marcom, our communication team. Who’s been really thoughtful about how do we just not have this in, you know, in this heritage month. And part of the reminder in the conversation that we affirm and validate the complicated history, like these are year-round conversations that happen both virtually, in-person at the coffee table, at the podium, right? All those places. So that they’re continuous. And so, those are two things that came up when you asked.
Michelle Miranda: So first,
there is a place for language, obviously. And so I think that, first, if the university is going to use these terms to understand why they’re using the terms and being intentional about using these terms. So that’s one part, but then the other part is allowing people to really just self-identify. So, there should be a restructuring of all of the forms, every application that people fill out, where you have to not only fill out what gender you are but also what race and ethnicity you are. I think all of those need to be changed so that people can have the opportunity to self-identify, more often. A lot of times those forms are very restrictive and exclusionary. So that’s a place where we can start. So not just language, but I want action. So these are actionable steps that can be taken moving forward. Additionally, I want data, on you know, recruitment of Latino communities, not just for students. But also for staff, faculty and their retention rates. What are you doing to be inclusive and keep people on campus? And if there are any problems there, what should we be doing moving forward? So, more data, keeping track of this, and having, creating a place that is actually more diverse and actually more inclusive.
Xris Macias: Thank you so much to all of you for all of those points. I think definitely keeping those items from action in mind is super important. Something that I would like to personally see is to have the same conversation in Spanish. And see how different that might be for folks who speak that language. And beyond that, if possible, to also get folks with Indigenous languages, who live in Latin America, or have connections to Latin America, to see how that conversation would then evolve. And how different it may be, right? So other action items to consider.
For the moment though, we reached the time for our panelists. Thank you once again, so much for all of your insight and your knowledge. We’d like to turn it over to the audience, both in-person and the livestream for any questions. Once again, there are two microphones at the end of the aisle here, and I will be asking the questions from the livestream on here, and there’s actually quite a few already. So, this conversation is going to go well.
So please, if anybody would like to come up. In the meantime, I’ll ask one of the first ones from the livestream. Someone says, and there’s an anonymous, by the way, “I honestly don’t know what to call myself when people ask how I racially identify. I like Xris’s recommendation to know your history, any good online resources to know your history?”
Cydney Caradonna: I’m going to say, this is like, the Chicanx or Mestiza Bible. And this is what I read over breakfast today. I just picked a few passages that are some really close to me. And this is “Borderlands/La Frontera” by Anzaldúa,
and it just really speaks to kind of this feeling of not being this or that. And I imagine that maybe is what resonated with the person that submitted the question. It speaks a lot to our history and this idea of living in the borderlands of two identities. And also really speaks to kind of this idea of linguistic violence that I feel like that is a really big theme in this conversation of, “You can’t tell me what my language is or how I identify.” And it really speaks to kind of, the agency that we have over self-identifying.
So I would say “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza” by Gloria E. Anzaldúa. There are PDFs everywhere online of some of her most like informative passages, I would say.
Audience Member: Thank you all for coming. My name is Luis Ramirez. And my question is like, or so some background info. So, I understood that like these conversations of preferences in using Latinx or Latina, Latino, Latine, are crucial in creating a more inclusive environment. But, from these conversations, due to certain comments or questions, I think microaggressions will be inevitably, you know, they will arise. And so, how can you, like, facilitate these negotiations and preferences? Or how can you be an advocate for a victim of a microaggression and clarify the misunderstandings and stuff like that?
Michelle Miranda: So I first think we need to create — a culture where people feel comfortable calling that out. Calling it in. Calling it out. It’s a whole thing, But a culture where people feel comfortable calling that out if there are microaggressions and having those really difficult conversations when these things happen. But also I think, in terms of being inclusive and advocating for other people, I think one of the things that I personally do, is, so, when I see a patient, I ask them how they want to be identified and which pronouns I should be using. So creating that space. So I think we’re doing a good job with pronouns a little bit more because we’re saying it at the beginning. So when we say, you know, my pronouns, are She/Her/Hers/Ella it’s to create sort of normalcy around it. That it’s okay to say your pronoun. And so hopefully that opens a door for other people to also give their pronouns.
And so if we start creating that culture of, “it’s okay to self-identify. I am Latina. And so how do you identify?” So, making it normal for people to be able to do that. I think that that’s one of the ways. And listen, we have a lot of privilege because we’re in academia, right? We’re in these settings. And so we there’s some privilege here. And so we can use that to advocate for people whose voices are not always heard.
Audience Member: Thank you.
Xris Macias: Other thoughts? Thank you so much for your question.
This question is in relation to some of the stuff we talked about. Institutionalization. But someone asks, “How do you negotiate utilizing the term in the ivory tower and simultaneously not policing it within the community?”
Cydney Caradonna: Can you say that again?
Xris Macias: Yes. The question is, “How do you negotiate utilizing the term in the ivory tower,” I’m assuming they mean Latinx, but that’s an assumption, “and simultaneously not policing it within the community?”
Daniel Cairo: Can I speak to that? The policing just like hits a nerve, right? I think we’re like, when we’re getting, for me, when I was moving from Hispanic to really embracing my Chicano identity. You know, I was in a lot
of progressive spaces where it was constantly or folks saying, you know, like, “don’t say that. That’s wrong or whatever.” And I’m like, “okay. Fair. But, but let’s have a conversation. I want to know why saying that word is not appropriate.”
And I see that happening a lot that, you know, it’s almost like this hierarchy of consciousness that we get into a place of “you’re not there, you’re not thinking about this.” And so we start policing. And I think that we forget, you know, what makes these movements great, which is the exchange of ideas, the conversations that affirming and seeing people, for, you know, the complicated beings that they are. So how do we do that in the community?
I’m not going to roll up in there and, you know, with my “abuelitos” and start, you know, throwin’ down the X or, you know, talking about these other pieces, right? I think we do a good job of doing this code switching we’re when we’re talking about other things and being attentive to other people’s humanities and not using it in a way that like, “Oh, I know more than you,” or like, “This is actually the term, you shouldn’t call yourself that.” The moment that we’re doing that, we’re not affirming and we’re actually dismissing people’s experiences.
And so, to me, hopefully the, you know, how do we not police folks, right? Is that continue to see people for their humanity for who they are. And, I think we start there. It’s a really good place to start.
Xris Macias: Thank you for that. We have another question from the audience and in-person. Welcome.
Audience Member: Hey, can you hear me? All right. So quick question. How do we open up cross-cultural, kind of using the X in cross-cultural collaborations? Understanding that the populations of Latin America, particularly with African-Americans. Only 5% of Africans were actually dropped off the United States. 95% of them were left in Mexico, Cuba, Honduras, Brazil. So how do we recognize those Afro-Latinas, Latinx, but then on top of that create as like, the Black Cultural Center and other centers as well,
Xris Macias: Thank you for that question. Cydney?
Cydney Caradonna: Yeah. I’m so happy you brought that up. First and foremost, I follow a lot of like Afro-Latino scholars on Twitter, and I feel like there are a lot of conversations around whether or not they feel included in the X. And I feel like that’s a lot of like what this is too like, “oh, well, that doesn’t fit me, so I don’t feel included.” And that’s completely fair. And I really like how you put it “Doctora,” like, it shouldn’t be that easy. But I really feel that like,
that is such a integral point, is this 5% versus 95%.
I taught Spanish last year. And the way that Mexico views Black culture and Black Mexicanos, is actually a lot worse than how we treat Black people in the United States. It’s actually a whole of a hell lot worse, a lot, a lot worse. So that really shows you that first, Latinidad, is super anti-Black. And I feel like I need to name out here. All of us that are Latinos — I see a lot of nodding heads — like we can say that and that first needs to be spoken to. And I think that that is why we need to be having more conversations like this. Because they don’t even feel included in that word.
I know that there’s an actress who was on “Pose.” I don’t remember her name, but she’s a trans actress. And she says that she doesn’t identify as Afro-Latina because that Latin part isn’t hers. She’s Afro-Taíno. She grew up in Puerto Rico.
Taíno is the Indigenous group there. So I feel like, a big part of it is making space for people to say, “Hey, I don’t feel like I identify under that.” Because there are huge historical implications for why they feel like they do, or they don’t.
Same reasons for why certain, I think Latin American groups feel like they aren’t included in the X or the E, even. Because even the Latine, I’m gonna be 100% honest, sounds like a Spaniard speaking. And I don’t usually adopt that type of Spanish. Just full transparency as a Spanish-speaker.
But, I think that a big part of it is having more of these conversations. And the thing is, there are a lot of people in the United States who probably couldn’t even fathom the idea of a Black person speaking Spanish. And that is where I think we need to really, really kind of just break that, shatter that glass ceiling, first and foremost. And have more conversations with Afro-Latinos, ’cause we could sit here and talk about Afro-Latinidad, and think we know what we’re talking about. But we only understand it through an objective historical lens. And I think that having more cross-cultural conversations like this one here and also engaging, we have very few Black scholars on campus, period. I would imagine very, very few if any, are Afro-Latino or Afro-Latinas. So engaging that actual conversation. I think engaging in that type of scholarship, first and foremost, because that’s, we’re at the ivory tower and that’s usually where we start. But also then engaging what Blackness means to people from Utah, and then what Blackness means to Cubanos, what Blackness means to Puerto Ricanos, what Blackness even means to Mexicanos. Because again, there are Black Mexicanos. And a lot of us might like, be like exploding in our brain right now, but it exists.
And I’m so happy that we can make space for this conversation.
Xris Macias: And once again, I don’t want to speak for Tino, who was originally invited as a panelist, but the reason we reached out to him was to speak specifically on that topic, given that’s part of his identity and research as well.
And so, we’re lucky and happy to have Dan, of course, but…
Daniel Cairo: I vote for Tino.
Xris Macias: that’s part of the reason why we’re there, so we are kind of short on time and I do wish we had more time for more questions because the discussion is really good and there’s a lot more in the livestream. So hopefully we can address some of those at some point. But with that, I’d like to close it out and just say, once again, thank you to all the panelists. Thank you to those who ask questions. Everybody here who participated as well and listening to the
conversation, I’ll turn it back.
Jaina Lee: Yes, thank you everybody. Let’s give them a round of applause. Thank you everyone. [audience applauding]
And once again, we wanted to just thank all of those who are joining online. I think we almost reached about 100 people joining online. So that’s really great. [audience applauding] Yes. [laughing] Really awesome.
And we wanted to thank the S.J. Quinney College of Law and the Hinckley Institute for also collaborating with us on this. And we wanted to let you all know, just a little plug from EDI, if you are all interested in Friday Forums, we are doing a next installment of “Shared Equity Leadership,” which places virtually on October 22nd at 1 p.m., so please feel free to join us there.
And if you enjoyed Reframing the Conversation, we encourage you to join us for our next month’s installment, which is in collaboration with MEDiversity Week and the Native American Heritage Month. We are going to be talking about eradicating health inequities in Indigenous populations. So thank you all for joining us so much.
I honestly don’t know what to call myself when people ask how I racially identify. I like Xris’s recommendation to know your history. Any good online resources to know your history?
Cydney Caradonna: I’m going to say, this is like, the Chicanx or Mestiza Bible. And this is what I read
over breakfast today. I just picked a few passages that are really close to me. And this is “Borderlands/La Frontera” by Anzaldúa, and it just really speaks to kind of this feeling of not being this or that.
And I’m sure that’s, I imagine, that maybe is what resonated with the person that submitted the question, but, it speaks a lot to our history and this idea of living in the borderlands of two identities. And also really speaks to kind of this idea of linguistic violence that I feel is a really big theme in this conversation of, “You can’t tell me what my language is or how I identify.” And it really speaks to the agency that we have over self-identifying.
So I would say “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza,” by Gloria E. Anzaldúa. There are PDFs everywhere online of some of her most like informative passages, I would say.
I understand these conversations on preferences in using Latinx or Latina, Latino, Latine are crucial in creating a more inclusive environment. But, from these conversations, due to certain comments or questions, microaggressions will be inevitably will arise. How can you facilitate these negotiations and preferences? Or how can you be an advocate for a victim of a microaggression and clarify misunderstandings?
Michelle Miranda: So I first I think we need to create a culture where people feel comfortable calling that out. Calling it in. Calling it out. It’s a whole thing, but a culture where people feel comfortable calling out if there are microaggressions and having those really difficult conversations when these things happen. But also in terms of being inclusive and advocating for other people, I think one of the things that I personally do is when I see a patient, I ask them how they want to be identified and which pronouns I should be using. So creating that space.
I think we’re doing a good job with pronouns a little bit more because we’re saying it at the beginning. So when we say, you know, my pronouns, are She/Her/Hers/Ella it’s to create sort of normalcy around it. That it’s okay to say your pronoun. And so hopefully that opens a door for other people to also give their pronouns. Start creating that culture of, “it’s okay to self-identify. I am Latina. And so how do you identify?”
And listen, we have a lot of privilege because we’re in academia, right? We’re in these settings. And so we there’s some privilege here. And so we can use that to advocate for people whose voices are not always heard.
How do you negotiate utilizing the term “Latinx” in the ivory tower and simultaneously not policing it within the community?
Daniel Cairo: For me, when I was moving from Hispanic to really embrace my Chicano identity, I was in a lot
of progressive spaces where it was constantly or folks saying, “don’t say that. That’s wrong or whatever.”
And I’m like, “okay. Fair. But, but let’s have a conversation. I want to know why saying that word is not appropriate.”
And I see that happening a lot. It’s almost like this hierarchy of consciousness that we get into. Like, you’re not there, you’re not thinking about this. Right? And so we start policing.
And I think that we forget what makes these movements great, which is the exchange of ideas, the conversations that affirming and seeing people for the complicated beings that they are. So how do we do that in the community? I’m not going to roll up in there, you know, with my “abuelitos” and start throwing down the X or talking about these other pieces, right? I think we do a good job of doing this code-switching we’re when we’re talking about other things and being attentive to other people’s humanities and not using it in a way that like, “Oh, I know more than you,” or like, “This is actually the term, you shouldn’t call yourself that.”
The moment that we’re doing that, we’re not affirming and we’re actually dismissing people’s experiences. To me, how we don’t police folks is that we continue to see people for their humanity for who they are, and I think we start there. It’s a really good place to start.
How do we open up cross-cultural use of the X? Understanding the populations of Latin America, particularly with African-Americans, only 5% of Africans were actually dropped off the United States. The remaining 95% were left in Mexico, Cuba, Honduras, Brazil. So how do we recognize those Afro-Latinas, Latinx, but then on top of that create cross-cultural collaborations?
Cydney Caradonna: I follow a lot of like Afro-Latino scholars on Twitter, and I feel like there are a lot of conversations around whether or not they feel included in the X. And I feel like that’s a lot of like what this is too. “Oh, well, that doesn’t fit me, so I don’t feel included.” That is such an integral point, is this 5% versus 95%.
I taught Spanish last year. And the way that Mexico views Black culture and Black Mexicanos, is actually a lot worse than this, we treat Black people in the United States. It’s actually a whole of a hell lot worse, a lot, a lot worse. So that really shows you that first, Latinidad is super anti-Black. And I feel like I need to name that out here. All of us that are Latinos, we can say that and that first needs to be spoken to. And I think that that is why we need to be having more conversations like this, because they don’t even feel included in that word.
I know that there’s an actress who was on “Pose.” I don’t remember her name, but she’s a trans actress. And she says that she doesn’t identify as Afro-Latina because that Latin part isn’t hers. She’s Afro-Taíno. She grew up in Puerto Rico. Taíno is the Indigenous group there. So I feel like, a big part of it is making space for people to say, “Hey, I don’t feel like I identify under that.” Because there are huge historical implications for why they feel like they do, or they don’t. Same reasons for why certain, I think Latin American groups feel like they aren’t included in the X or the E, even.
There are a lot of people in the United States who probably couldn’t even fathom the idea of a Black person speaking Spanish. And that is where I think we need to really shatter that glass ceiling, first and foremost. And have more conversations with Afro-Latinos, because we could sit here and talk about Afro-Latinidad, and think we know what we’re talking about. But we only understand it through an objective historical lens. And I think that having more cross-cultural conversations like this one here and also engaging the few Black scholars on campus, period. I would imagine very, very few if any, are Afro-Latino or Afro-Latinas. So engaging that actual conversation.
I think engaging in that type of scholarship, because that’s we’re at the ivory tower and that’s usually where we start. But also then engaging what Blackness means to people from Utah, and then what Blackness means to Cubanos, what Blackness means to Puerto Ricanos, what Blackness even means to Mexicanos. Because again, there are Black Mexicanos. And a lot of us might like, be like exploding in our brain right now, but it exists. And I’m so happy that we can make space for this conversation.
Xris Macias, MEd
Director, Dream Center
Xris Macias is a first-generation son of immigrants and the Director of the Dream Center at the University of Utah where he works with undocumented students, and mixed-status families. He has a master’s degree in Education Culture and Society, where his research emphasis was on Lowriders being educational tools for marginalized communities. Xris is a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellow, with the focus area of Latin America. Xris is Vice-Chair of Chicana/o Scholarship Fund. He is fluent in Spanish and well-versed in Portuguese.
Daniel K. Cairo
Special Assistant – Strategy and Operations
Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion
Dr. Daniel K. Cairo (he/him/el) brings over 10 years of experience in leading programs that support diversity, equity, and inclusion. As an educator and organizational leader, he has developed successful equity and inclusion programs at multiple institutions.
Cydney Caradonna, MA
Graduate Assistant for New Leadership Academy, PhD Student in Educational Leadership and Policy
Cydney Caradonna is a CA grown Queer Chicana with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of California Merced, and a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration and Leadership from California State University Fresno. She is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy here at the University of Utah. During her undergraduate career, she played intercollegiate Basketball for the University of California, Merced while also working for the institution’s transfer student support program. Her passion for student affairs, and specifically equity leadership, was born and drove her to pursue a graduate degree in the field. Her career goals include becoming faculty and an administrator, with hopes of producing research surrounding critical leadership studies, while maintaining engagement with community organizing efforts. Cydney firmly identifies as a scholar/activist. Additional interests include R&B/rap music, tattoos, reading, good food (all kinds), and spoken word poetry.
First-Gen Scholars Friday Cohort Leader
Service Desk Manager, ASUU Speakers
David M Leon is a fourth-year first-generation student majoring in Recreational Therapy with a minor in Psychology with aspirations of working in the medical field. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, working out, and taking part in multiple on-campus organizations, including but not limited to First-Gen Scholars, Recreational Therapy Student Association, Dream Center, ASUU, and Leap Scholars.
Michelle Miranda, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, Division of Neuropsychology
University of Utah
Dr. Miranda is an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah Department of Neurology, Division of Neuropsychology. She developed the first fully Spanish-speaking service in neuropsychology at the University of Utah, and she also provides presurgical evaluations for patients with epilepsy. Her career special interests include cross-cultural neuropsychology, bilingualism in epilepsy, Wada evaluations for non-English speakers, and mapping of language function. She is passionate about the role of a neuropsychologist as an advocate and thus is the Co-Chair of the Hispanic Neuropsychological Association’s Social Justice and Advocacy Committee, and she is also the Chair of the Utah Psychological Association’s Diversity Committee.