Estamos Aquí: We Are Here and It Is Our Turn
By Gigi Pedraza, guest editor, Executive Director Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia)
It was October 2019 and my friend Josephine and I were having a conversation at “La Choloteca” a pop up party organized by Cholo Productions, a Latinx-owned small business dedicated to create inclusive, safe and accessible spaces to honor the diversity of the Latinx community in Georgia. DJ Esme was spinning everything from Andean music to reggaeton, from bachata to rock en español.
That evening, we pledged to figure out how to use that vibrant energy from the growing Latinx community in Georgia to encourage civic participation, including participation in the 2020 Census. It simply made sense. Millennials and GenZ generations have always been the family navigators, from translating in school to helping their parents read labels and sharing how to register for different services and programs.
Cholo Productions assembled a diverse group of Latinx creatives and artists to continue building our civic participation efforts based on the concept of “Estamos Aquí” (we are here). Their proposal was a simple message: yes, we are here, but most importantly: IT IS OUR TURN.
It is our turn to be visible, it is our turn to be counted, it is our turn to own our power, it is our turn to show up for our community, for our parents, for our parents’ dreams but also for our dreams.
The idea was developed based on Nino Augustine’s original EP “Me Toca A Mi”, a song about owning who he is, his identity as a Panamanian-born urban artist singing for the first time is his native Spanish.
Nino, Felicita and Josephine re-wrote the lyrics of the song and deliberately looked for real representation of the community. An open call to join the video was made in social media channels and the video was recorded with the folks who showed up, their families and friends. Since the video was released on Facebook as part of a “Get Out the Count Campaign” including memes, gifs, calls to action, digital parties and concerts supported by our Civic Participation Team. In collaboration with other creatives and member and partner organizations, we have reached over 500,000 people and over 25,000 have clicked to answer the 2020 Census.
Recently, the video won the runner up prize for the national Census Video Challenge, once again confirming that investment in the Latinx community it is always a good investment.
At the core of “Me Toca A Mi” is the idea that we do not need an invitation or permission to be who we are, to participate, to lead. It is about us stepping in our own right to the front.
“Me Toca A Mi” is a vibrant, colorful, and powerful statement that rings true to so many of us that for a number of reasons may have been waiting for something or someone else to speak up, to come of age so we could vote, to participate, to say yes, Estamos Aquí and we are here to stay. It certainly Nino’s time, it is Felicita’s time, it is Josephine’s time, it is Latinx time in Georgia.
We are grateful to the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta for the $10,000 grant to make this video a reality. Click here to watch the video and get to meet the team that put it together. For COVID-19 information and resources in Spanish, please click here.