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¡Adelante Minnesota!

Adelante is a special word. It has many meanings. It can mean forward progress and movement or be used as a cry of victory or direction. Minnesotan Latinos are a well established, diverse, complex and growing community in the state. MPR News will be elevating Latino voices over the next five months, reporting on community issues. ¡Adelante Minnesota!

For some Minnesota Latinos, the future is filled with cautious hope

Absentee voting for non-English dominant speakers proves fraught.
A truck outside the nonprofit COPAL office bears the message, "The Latino vote is powerful."
Kathryn Styer Martinez | MPR News 2020

Latino voters were wildly misunderstood in the 2020 presidential election. Pollsters and pundits who spoke of a Latino “bloc” that would vote reflexively for Democrats came to discover it did not exist.

Latino voters chose President Donald Trump in numbers higher than experts expected. In Minnesota, where Latinos are a growing political force, exit poll data analyzed by the Washington Post put that vote at 38 percent for Trump, greater than the 33 percent he received nationally.

The election laid bare what the Latino community already knew: Their identity, experiences and concerns are not the same. 

Read the full story here.

‘Sí se puede’: Minnesota’s fast-growing Latino community is layered and complex

Latinos in Minnesota are a diverse and growing community. Recent estimates from the U.S.

A woman in a spotted shirt looks above the camera.
Patricia Conde Brooks inside of the Anderson Student Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul on Jan. 8.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Census Bureau shows the community is about 300,000 — more than six times the size just three decades ago. Patricia Conde-Brooks is part of that growing community. Now that she’s been in the country for 45 years, she said conversations about Latino issues seem to be stuck on repeat. Not all Latinos are new immigrants, and they are passionate about issues that go beyond immigration policy. 

“We are more than that,” she said. “I think that's what we need to start changing, that rhetoric, that that's all we care about.”

Read the full story here.

Latino small business stay resilient through a ‘pandemic year’

four people sit in a room
Marina Corona (left) and Carlos Garcia (center left) write their information for Aaron Blythe from the Latino Economic Development Center on Feb. 27.
Kathryn Styer Martinez | MPR News

Small businesses have never had it easy and over the past year, things got a lot harder — especially for the Latino business community. Now, one year into pandemic-related restrictions, some resilient small businesses are starting to look to the future.

COVID-19 hit the community hard, said Rodolfo Gutierrez, executive director of the Latino research organization HACER and co-author of a recent study with the University of Minnesota examining the impact of the pandemic on the Latino business community.

“The largest effect was felt among restaurants and businesses very similar to them,” and businesses outside the Twin Cities metro had an even harder go of it, Gutierrez said, adding that the Latino community is resilient.

Read the full story here.

Latina entrepreneurs find a space online to thrive in pandemic

A woman stands in front of a wall of accessories.
Amaury Vidales holds a shirt with a number so viewers of her "Amaury's Accessories" livestream can comment and purchase the shirt through Facebook Live inside of her Eden Prairie home on March 10.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Facebook Live boutique events provide needed income for entrepreneurs and create a virtual space for community members to come together in an isolated world. One Minnesota entrepreneur is among those finding success.

Between the spontaneous bidding wars, music and banter with customers, Amaury Vidales creates a shopping experience on her Facebook page, Amaury Accessorios, that is a mix of buzzing zocalos found in the centers of Mexican cities, bustling open-air tianguis where shoppers can find all manner of items and an artisan handmade crafts fair.

Vidales, 47, represents a new kind of entrepreneur, someone who’s built a following online for experiences that have become scarce during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the process, she’s created an online space for community members to come together in an isolated world. 

Read the full story here.

Economic pressures threaten waves of change on St. Paul’s West Side

people stand at table talking
Housing organizer Charlotte Colantti (right) talks with Latricia Dilworth in front of the Beautiful Laundrette while tabling for the West Side Community Organization's housing organizing campaign on March 20 in St. Paul.
Kathryn Styer Martinez | MPR News

The neighborhood had long welcomed generations of newcomers to the Twin Cities with a reputation as an affordable refuge for new immigrants and low-income workers. 

But layers of crises are stacking up now against those longtime residents: the COVID-19 pandemic, a flagging economy, a hot housing and rental market, and the fears of foreclosures and evictions that have been put off over the past year. 

Some veteran West-Siders see the beginnings of a gentrification wave they worry may leave many low-income residents with nowhere to go if the pandemic-related eviction moratorium isn’t extended. It’s currently set to expire May 14, although there are efforts in the Legislature to extend it.

Read the full story here.

Twin Cities girls of color need a place to thrive. Here come the Radical Monarchs

two girls stand in front of a tree
Cynthia J. Zapata, 26 and sister Daisy, 14 ,both grew up in Rosemount, Minn. Zapata is helping recruit girls ages 8 to 11 to form the area’s first troop of Radical Monarchs, a Girl Scouts-like alternative focused on the needs and experiences of girls of color.
Kathryn Styer Martinez | MPR News

Cynthia J. Zapata grew up in the Twin Cities suburbs with few Latinx classmates around, and with adults who didn’t seem interested in the journeys and cultural backgrounds of first-generation Minnesotans. That included a third-grade teacher “who made me hate being Mexican.” 

Those memories, painful for any 8-year-old, are among the reasons why 26-year-old Zapata is working now to create a space where culture and community are the central focus for young girls of color in the Twin Cities.

Zapata is helping recruit girls ages 8 to 11 to form the area’s first troop of Radical Monarchs, a Girl Scouts-like alternative focused on the needs and experiences of girls of color. 

Read the full story here.

Friendship, health, community: Twin Cities Latino cyclists on a roll

a group of seven people stand together in front of a tree
Members of the group Latino Social Biking at their season kickoff ride and barbecue in North St. Paul, May 2.
Kathryn Styer Martinez | MPR News

Mario Hernandez started biking to get outdoors and boost his health. When he saw the beauty of Minnesota, he wanted others to be able to enjoy it as well, especially recently arrived Latinos to the state who might not have had the chance to explore.

That simple idea has morphed into something bigger during the pandemic — Latino Social Biking, a Twin Cities group helping Latino people connect, get healthy and get past the isolation and sedentary influences of the pandemic. Read the full story here.

‘One has to dream big': Mentors, family, grit help light a teen’s future

a person stands and looks out to the right
Edgar Omar Dominguez Casalez looks out onto the bull chutes and charreada arena before his event starts. He's the team's chosen bull rider in Adel, Iowa, at the Primero Gran Charreada del Circuito Interestatal on May 23.
Kathryn Styer Martinez | MPR News

Edgar Omar Dominguez Casalez is on the cusp of becoming the first in his family to go to college.

His story, which includes a mentor, a horse and the pandemic, says a lot about the good things that can happen when determined kids in difficult circumstances connect with adults who can help guide their dreams.

Read the full story in English or Español.

Latino Minnesotans: What issues are most important to you?

Stickers with "I Voted!" printed in both English and Spanish.
Stickers with "I Voted!" printed in both English and Spanish.
GPA photo archive via Flickr

Make our reporting better by sharing what you care about. Your answers will help raise the voice of the Latino community in Minnesota and help us do more relevant reporting for Latinos in the state. Take the survey here.

Kathryn Styer Martinez is the 2020-2021 MPR News Toni Randolph reporting fellow. Follow her @kstyermartinez on Twitter.

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