Please explain what you do for living.
I am the Founder + Creative Director of Cafe Con Leche. Cafe Con Leche is an experiential marketing and event production company that focuses on the Latino market in Pittsburgh. Our services help companies, nonprofits and institutions curate unique experiences to build authentic brand relationships with Latinos using influencer advertising, events and digital media.
How important in your identity is being Latino?
It's very important. Ever since I can remember my culture has always been a touchstone of community and identity for me.
Is there something that you particularly value of your nationality or being Latino?
No matter where you go in the world, when you find yourself with some Latinos you are home. This is even more true when you find people from your country of family origin (In my case it is Puerto Rico).
Latin American history is incredibly magical and tragic. Which is why there are so many amazing novels written by Latin American writers.
There is a lot to be inspired by. "Latino" and a "Pan Latino" identity is not a natural way for Latinos to think - often we identify with our family country of origin, however we know so many of the customs and funny phrases from other Latin American countries. I love know all these little details about different countries. It also makes for great comedy when we make fun of each other.
Have you been treated differently because of being Latino (in the workplace, in public settings…etc.)?
Latinos come in all shades, sizes, accents and experiences. I am white presenting in my physical look so I have not experienced racism based on the color of my skin. However, I once had a supervisor who was completely convinced that I was not a U.S. citizen (that I was undocumented) because I did not have a social security card (I had lost it years before and it never had mattered before this job - I have since gotten a new card). But she made sure to let me know I was not a welcome part of American. It was very uncomfortable and I always felt like immigration agents were going to show up at my job on any day. Needless to say I was not there for a long time. On a regular basis a lot of assumptions are made about me because I am Latina - when I was younger people always wondered how I was not a teen mom and had a college education. Now the assumptions are more along the lines of people perceiving I have an accent (I don't, you just want to hear that), that I cook spicy food (not true, Puerto Rican food is not spicy at all), that I have a hot temper (or that if I am mad it's because I am Latina and not because I have a legit reason) and that they can ask me a million personal cultural questions because they have never met a Latino before (hello Pittsburgh!).