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How St. Louis’ Small But Vibrant Latino Community Is Making Strides In All Sorts Of Sectors

(L-R) Gabriela Ramirez-Arellano, Valeria Rodriguez and Lindsay Newton joined Wednesday's "St. Louis on the Air."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis has the smallest Latino community of the nation's 25 largest metro areas — the only one that's less than 5% Latino. So how do local Latinos deal with being not just a minority, but one that’s dwarfed in size by other communities? And how do they straddle the Spanish-speaking worlds of their parents and grandparents in addition to life in the Midwest? 

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske delved into ways that St. Louis’ Latino community continues to grow and influence the city – artistically and otherwise.

Joining the program were Gabriela Ramirez-Arellano, business counselor at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in St. Louis and co-host of the bilingual Auténtico Podcast, and Valeria Rodriguez, a Dominican-American multidisciplinary artist and member of the Latinx Arts Network – a collective of local artists. 

They shared their experiences of navigating a bicultural life, the importance of representation in their fields of work and how the Latino arts scene is expanding in the region. On Thursday, Ramirez-Arellano and Rodriguez will participate in the Missouri History Museum’s The Bridge: Latinx Artists Talk Culture and Creativity event. 

Ramirez-Arellano said the event will give the larger community an opportunity to learn more about the multifaceted life of Latinos in the region, with offerings ranging from food, to a panel discussion, to a display of artwork by local artists.

“It’s absolutely everything,” Rodriguez said about the importance of spaces fostering dialogue about representation. “Because, [in] the world, none of us are monolithic. We are, in our own right, diverse in creativity and culture, and we’re all rich in diversity; and we should celebrate our differences and not use them as competition or uphold a measuring stick of who’s better than such.

“We’re different, and we should celebrate our beauty and see where we align and move forward with that.”

Rodriguez added that she portrays that message in her artwork, including her Shine In All Shades coloring books.

Thursday’s event corresponds with the museum’s current exhibit of “Flores Mexicanas,” a painting by Mexican painter Alfredo Ramos Martínez. Martinez was living in Mexico when he painted “Flores Mexicanas,” and continued to depict scenes of his homeland when he later moved to Los Angeles.

Lindsay Newton, manager of Missouri History Museum’s Early Childhood and Family Programs, also participated in the conversation. 

Listen to the full discussion:

Related Event

What: The Bridge: Latinx Artists Talk Culture and Creativity
When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019
Where: The Missouri History Museum’s MacDermott Grand Hall (5700 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63112)

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Alexis Moore. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.
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