Latino Americans | St. Louis Public Radio

Latino Americans

(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. 

Tihara Mari rehearses with Grupo Atlantico at the home of founder Carmen Dence.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

When Carmen Dence was growing up in the Caribbean coastal city of Barranquilla, Colombia, she danced to cumbia, porros, gaitas and other traditional sounds of her country.

Dence left Colombia in 1969 to attend graduate school at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Nine years later, she and her husband moved to St. Louis, where she became a radiology professor at Washington University. But she never lost her passion for the music and dances of her homeland.

Revelers crowd Cherokee Street at a Cinco de Mayo celebration in 2016.
Paul Sableman | Flickr

“It was the wildest Cinco de Mayo party I have ever experienced,” recalled Angel Jimenez-Gutierrez remembering his first May 5 in Missouri.

It was 2002 and he was working at a Mexican restaurant in Rock Hill. Jimenez-Gutierrez had just moved to the United States from Mexico where Cinco de Mayo has never been widely celebrated.

A scene from "Menudo Pops," a spoofy  commercial for popsicles created from a traditional Mexican dish that's made from the stomachs of animals.
Mike Snodderley

This month, St. Louisans can experience something they’ve likely never seen or heard before: 90 minutes of local theater focused on Latino themes and characters.

Theatre Nuevo is staging a series of one-act plays in English, Spanish and a sprinkling of Spanglish, from the touching tale of a struggling family restaurant to a new take on “Little Red Riding Hood.”

The presentation is the brainchild of Anna Skidis Vargas, a local theater professional who wants to honor her heritage. Skidis Vargas, who's from Southern Illinois, has Mexican-American roots. She said the project gives all Latinos a chance for visibility.

Album Breaks Down Barriers In Language And Musical Tradition

Jan 27, 2015
Part of Adria and Her Treasures record "Unde Dragoste (Where Love)?" for The Texas Room
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

Local music producer and sound engineer Louis Wall thinks challenging area international and local musicians to produce a collaborative album will help push artists beyond their social boundaries. 

“I kind of like that element of putting people out in their own place - if you stick with someone else’s culture then you might realize ‘I’ve got one too and I need to discover what that is and where I come from,’” said Wall.

courtesy Gitana Productions

Latin and jazz musicians will share the stage at Union Avenue Christian Church Saturday, June14 in a concert organized by Gitana Productions. The concert, called “Karamu: Fiesta of Latin and African American Music,” will explore the shared musical heritage of Latinos and African Americans.

(courtesy of the St. Louis Media History Foundation)

A local media history group has acquired nine issues of the region’s first bi-lingual business paper.

 The St. Louis Media History Foundation announced on Monday that it had purchased the copies of El Comercio del Valle from a private collector.

El Comercio del Valle — the Commerce of the Valley — began publishing in St. Louis in 1876 and was distributed all along the Mississippi River, said Frank Absher, the executive director of the foundation. The first publisher would eventually become the Mexican Consul in St. Louis.

Courtesy by Michael Dulick

Christmas had us coming and going. And not just here in Honduras.

A week before Christmas, my sister Barb arrived at her St. Louis city home about 5 p.m., threw a big bag of Christmas presents and her even bigger purse on the couch, coaxed Jah the dog, blind and frail, out the door, and went for a walk. She returned to find her house lit up like a torch, in flames and smoke.

(Courtesy PBS)

According to the U.S. Census, the United States will become a majority-minority by the year 2043, with Latinos representing the largest portion of the population.

While this shift in demographics represents a major sea-change for the country, in a way it is also nothing more than a continuation of a long story: the 500 year history of Latino Americans.

Commentary: Leaders or tokens?

Nov 16, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 16, 2010 - A recent Pew Research Center poll found that there is no consensus about a national Latino leader. My critique is not with the research but with the cultural tendency to frame questions about leadership and people of color in such a way. To be fair, the question was part of a larger bilingual national telephone survey that reached 1,375 Hispanic Americans. But to my knowledge, we have yet to explicitly survey White Americans to assess who they consider the most important White American leader in the country today.