A day after Tuesday was announced as Support Latin Business Day, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall joined community members and leaders on Wednesday to mark the Hispanic heritage month with the contributions and experiences of the Hispanic community.
“Salt Lake City is fortunate that thousands of Latinos and Hispanic residents call it our capital city,” Mendenhall said. “Our city is great for the contributions of strong local businesses, successful local businesses, beautiful habits and wonderful food, Latino and Hispanic communities.”
The mayor read the signing announcing September 15 to October 15 to be “Hispanic Heritage Month” in the city. The announcement noted recent data showing that the Latino and Hispanic community is a “significant and growing” demographic.
Census data released in August 2020 found that racial and ethnic minorities in Utah have contributed more than half, or 52%, to approximately 508,000 new faces in the last decade. The same data revealed that Hispanic Utahns included more than any other minority group with more than 134,500 people.
Despite the growth in numbers, the population has faced barriers highlighted in recent years. Mendenhall said Hispanic Heritage Month’s 2021 theme includes “Esperanza”, the Spanish word “hope”, community hope and resilience.
“Latin Americans have a strong and unique history in the state of Utah. These slogans help our Hispanic communities recognize the work that makes our society a better, more inclusive place. Sylvia Castro, executive director of the Suujo Center, said: “To recognize and understand their heritage and where they came from.”
The history and heritage of Latin Americans in Utah were acknowledged by other speakers during the event. Jos ಬ Borjದಿಂದn, from the Embassy of Mexico, noted that present-day Utah was once an area of Spain, and noted “the imprint and deep ties between Mexico, Utah and the Latino population.” Borzan invited the Utahns and both of them to contribute to the celebration of Mexican and Utahn independence.
But for Richard Jaramillo of the Utah Coalition of La Raza, Hispanic Heritage Month should be more than a celebration.
“We focus mostly on live music, amazing food and incredible art. This month we should take the time to think deeply about the Hispanic heritage.
“We must honor Latinx’s contribution to every industry in Utah’s economy,” he continued, using the gender-neutral term. “We must try to find common humanity, good shared values and similar traditions. Most importantly, we must take time to celebrate, reflect on the political, economic and social conditions that our Latin community faces today. And how we can work together to improve those conditions.”
The Utah Foundation was contacted by Hispanic business, civic and elected leaders who asked the organization to provide vital data related to Utah’s Hispanic and Latino population. The project received support from the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs, highlighting the inequalities and challenges facing the community.
Some of the data in it 2021 Report Includes:
- Hispanic Utahans generally have poor academic outcomes and poor academic achievement compared to all Utahns.
- Utah Hispanic homes have the highest median income of any Hispanic population in mountain states. However, the average income in Utah is 25% higher than the Hispanic population.
- In the mountain states, Utah has the highest disparity in childhood poverty among Hispanic children and the general population.
- Hispanic Utahns are generally more likely to lose income than all Utahians due to the epidemic. Fall 2020 data on the economic impact of coronavirus shows that 2 out of 5 Utahns have lost employment. For Hispanic Utahns, that impact was 3 out of 5.
- In general, a large proportion of Hispanic Utahs are struggling to pay normal household costs during the coronavirus epidemic compared to all Utahns.
- Hispanic Utahs are less likely to have health insurance but generally have fewer physical health days than all Utahns.
The report states, “It explores a set of challenges that are not universal or set in stone for all Hispanic Utahs.”
Governor Spencer Cox and Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson are working to address the gap between the groups, said Nubia Pena, Utah’s director of multicultural affairs. Pena pointed A Utah Roadmap, Which has sections on how the administration plans to address equality and opportunity.
He said last year has allowed him to develop a “beautiful bridge” with a “meaningful experience of partnership” between state leaders and community partners.
“It is important to acknowledge the beautiful complexity of each individual humanity and recognize that each of us navigates this world in ways that are highly influenced by our backgrounds and intersecting identities. But inclusion is a priority for our organizations, ”Pena said.
That feeling is said by Salt Lake City Council member Ana Valdemoros, a Hispanic woman who “works hard and has the belief that you will earn your appreciation in our community at the cultural values and diversity table. This is a table I know that can be expanded and welcomed.”