Latinx Heritage Month: Team Member Forum

by Tracee Jay
Social Media Producer

As part of the Sacramento Kings efforts to highlight Latinx Heritage Month, the team hosted another Diversity & Inclusion Council Team Member Forum via Microsoft Teams on Tuesday to discuss how the state of today’s society impacts the Latinx community and their identity. 

The forum featured Dr. Elvia Ramirez of Sacramento State, Kings Special Assistant to the Executive Board Franco Gallardo and Senior Vice President & General Manager of Golden 1 Center Alex Rodrigo and was hosted by Kings AP/AR Specialist Iesha Herrera.

To help the staff that may not know much about Latinx culture, the forum started with Dr. Elvia Ramirez, Professor of Chicanx/Latinx Studies at Sacramento State., who broke down the terms and identity labels for the numerous Latinx groups and then explained how even the word Latinx may be out of touch to some. 

The words Latino, Latina, Latinx and La Raza are all panethnic labels. 

A panethnic label groups people of various ethnicities and nationalities in one category. Essentially, it’s assumed that these groups share a common culture.

Yet, statistics show that more than half (51%) of Latinx people identify themselves most often by their family’s country or place of origin. 

Dr. Ramirez reminded us all that there is no universal consensus on which identity label to use. 

The term “Hispanic" is criticized because it was created by the government and highlights Spanish and European ancestry only while Latino, Latina and Latinx are critiqued for highlighting European ancestry only. 

Both Hispanics and Latinx are the only group to be identified as an ethnic group, so if you are ever unsure what someone wants to identify as, it’s best to ask! 

Elvia went on to highlight the myths that are out there about Latinxs’ in the United States.

Four in 5 Latinx are U.S. citizens. To add to that, 80% of Mexicans are citizens, which is one of the highest citizenship rates. 

Dr. Ramirez suggested if we want to learn more about the Latinx population from a statistical standpoint, we can consult the Pew Research Center. 

"They are a non-partisan research based center. They provide statistics, relevant, timely and very interesting and fascinating data about the Latinx population.” 

After learning a spectrum of information about the Latinx facts and figures, Kings team members were given an opportunity to share more about their culture.

Iesha Herrera talked about growing up and identifying as both Black and Mexican. 

“I knew that I was Black and I knew that I was Mexican. I was always questioned or challenged with having to pick and choose.” She continued, “Am I Black or am I Mexican?”

From growing up in school and choosing “other” when asked about race, to being forced to pick one at times, it wasn’t easy for Iesha. 

When she talked to her Mexican father about it he said, ‘Mija, you can identify with whatever you want to be. You’re Black you’re Mexican, you’re beautiful and that’s all that matters.’

That explanation still left her puzzled with her sense of identity and having to choose one. 

But she doesn’t have to, and she is proud to check the “other” and in her words, “to this day I still check other because I also identify with being Black.” 

On the other side of the coin is Alex Rodrigo. 

His experience doesn’t mirror the same type of struggle Iesha had, but something that the Latinx culture has as a whole. 

“Not everyone who is Hispanic or Latino is Mexican.”

Alex identifies as a Hispanic male, and his roots are from Colombia. 

His type of struggle was different in that, even in Dr. Elvia’s presentation, while it was recognized the different countries and groups Latinx people come from, still lumped in is South America, where he is from. 

“Listening to Iesha’s experience touched me in many ways because, that’s not something I had to deal with.” He then questioned how that experience could possibly affect someone on a day-to-day? 

With the differing experiences throughout the Latinx community, the Kings want to make sure they can make a difference in the lives of many in this community. 

Iesha and Alex discussed efforts by the Kings organization that have been made and are striving to complete many more. They want to show children in the Latinx space that there are people that identify with them and can help them reach goals they may not have seen as possible. 

It also starts within the organization. The duo spoke about starting a group for Latinx team members of their own, and for anyone else in the organization whose lives touch someone within the community. 

As Alex said, “We’re not alone.” 

The stories within the Latinx community are still being written, and our Team Members are honored we had the chance to hear a few of those stories today. 

For additional resources, visit Kings.com/Latinx.

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