Latino/Hispanic Resource Guide 2016: Rochester’s Connection to the Spanish-Speaking Community


By Annette Ramos
Executive Director, Rochester Latino Theatre Company


latino-heritage-month_ramos-article-1Rochester Latino Theatre Company:

RTLC is a leading arts organization exclusively dedicated to the promotion, advancement, development, and cultivation of Latino arts thru theatrical productions, advocacy and serving as a catalyst for cultural development, positive social change, and the ongoing stabilization and sustainability of the Rochester Latino arts field.

Memorial Art Gallery Hispanic/Latino American Heritage Family Day, Sunday, October 2, 2016 2 pm. “Separate is Never Equal” performance.

Rochester City School District’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month: Oct. 27 4:30 pm. The board of education and the superintendent of schools present “Separate is Never Equal” performance.

Freedom from Domestic Violence: A Reading: Nov. 4 & Nov. 5, 7:30 pm, Greenovation Theater, 1199 East Main St.

A Latino Holiday Musical Comedy, A Family Friendly Parranda/Parade: Dec.21st & Dec. 22, 7 pm, MuCCC Theater, 142 Atlantic Ave.

Puerto Rican Festival, Inc:

The Puerto Rican Festival incorporated in 1969, with its purpose to celebrate, and recognize the culture of Puerto Ricans. The festival sponsors a variety of events, and is the longest running cultural festival in the county of Monroe. The festival is an annual three-day event, which averages a daily attendance of 7,000 people from various cultures and ethnic backgrounds.

Comedy Night: (date tbd)

Trulla Navidena: (Date tbd) “Parrandas” provide a nostalgic event educating others on Puerto Rico traditions.

Borinquen Dance Theatre:

Offers a diverse range of youth, many from economically challenged families, the opportunity to develop and practice discipline through the mental and physical training afforded by a rigorous holistic dance program.

Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York’s Hispanic Heritage: Friday,  September 30, 2016, Buffalo, NY.  Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Hall, Buffalo, NY 14201.

Borinquen Dance Theatre’s Annual Community Performance; Hochstein School of Music & Dance. Saturday, April 29, 2017, at 7 pm. Rochester, NY.

Ibero American Action League – Building Stronger Families and Greater Self-Sufficiency:

Ibero is a dual-language human services agency that focuses on building stronger families and greater self-sufficiency through hands-on learning and experience serving individuals and families of all ethnic backgrounds, with the unique ability to target multiple audiences in both English and Spanish.

Upstate Latino Summit: The Power of the Latino Voice, Wednesday, September 28, 2016, Albany, N.Y.

48th Anniversary Luncheon and Recognition Awards, Thursday, October 6, 2016, Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

One Year Anniversary Celebration for Poder 97.1 FM, Saturday, November 19, 2016, Diplomat Banquet Center.

La Cumbre-Latinos United for Progress:

(Spanish phrase meaning “the Summit”) is a forum for members of the Greater Rochester Area community and others to meet, discuss, coordinate, facilitate, organize, and collaborate, in order to assess and improve the lives of Latinos/Hispanics relating to arts and culture, economic development, education, and government. La Cumbre addresses critical issues together to influence and focus efforts by making a sustainable impact in the community.

To become a member of La Cumbre, go to and for the directory, please visit

National Hispanic Heritage Month is from Sept.15 to Oct.15 in the United States, and is a time when people recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States, celebrating the group’s heritage and culture. The roots of Hispanic Heritage Month go back to 1968, which begins each year on Sept. 15, which is the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period, and Columbus Day (Día de la Raza) is Oct.12.

Latinas Unidas:

The mission of Latinas Unidas is to foster opportunities that promote unity, cultural identity, and the successful presence of the Latina woman in the community.

Latinas Unidas Reconocimiento & Scholarships Awards Luncheon: Nov. 3, 2016 – 11:45 am Hyatt Regency Hotel. These awards recognize the contributions that local Latina’s have significantly made in the categories of: Professional Achievement, Inspirational Leadership, Volunteer Service and Young Latina Leader.

Memorial Art Gallery Hispanic/Latino American Heritage Family Day: Sunday, October 2, 2016 12 p.m. to 5pm. The whole family is invited to enjoy art activities, music and dance, cultural displays, tours, Latino theater, and storytelling.

Vive el Folklore Dance Program:

Community program for children and youth

When: every Monday

Time: 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Where: Gantt R-Center 500 North St., Rochester, NY 14605

Cost: Free -registration required-

General Facts about Latinos/Hispanics:

Geography: Although there’s been some dispersion in recent years, the Hispanic population remains highly concentrated. More than half (55%) of the nation’s Hispanics live in just three states — California, Texas and Florida — and 71% live in just 100 of the nation’s 3,143 counties and county-equivalents.

Population size: According to the Census Bureau, there were 51.9 million U.S. Hispanics in 2011 (its latest estimate, for 2012, is just over 53 million). The Hispanic population grew 47.5% between 2000 and 2011, according to a Pew Research analysis, and accounted for more than half (55%) of total population growth over that period.

Countries of origin: The umbrella term “Hispanic” embraces a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. However, nearly two-thirds of U.S. Hispanics trace their family origins to Mexico. Puerto Ricans, the nation’s second-largest Hispanic-origin group, make up 9.5% of the total Hispanic population.

Educational attainment: College enrollment among Hispanic high school graduates has risen over the past decade: According to the Census Bureau, 49% of young Hispanic high-school graduates were enrolled in college in 2012, surpassing the rate for white (47%) and black (45%) high-school grads.

Language usage:record 35 million (74%) Hispanics ages 5 and older speak Spanish at home. Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the United States. Nearly all U.S. Hispanics say it’s important that future generations speak Spanish.

Hispanic or Latino? Which is the correct term?

Nearly four decades after the United States government mandated the use of the terms “Hispanic” or “Latino” to categorize Americans who trace their roots to Spanish-speaking countries, these terms still continue to be debated among U.S. Spanish-speaking citizens.

In the 1970s, these terms “Hispanic and Latino” became official as a census category. Keep in mind the fact that both labels, Hispanic and Latino were created in this country to refer to minority groups that are considered historically oppressed, socially rejected, economically excluded, and lacking political power, which makes it exceedingly difficult to find a common term to define an already diverse Spanish-speaking community.

Hispanics: This term is used to refer collectively to all Spanish-speakers in the U.S. Officially, it identifies people of Spanish descent living in the U.S. It specifically connotes a lineage or cultural heritage related to Spain.

Latinos: This term describes a geographically-derived national origin group. It refers to people originating from, or having a heritage related to Latin America. “Latin” refers to the romance languages (Spanish, Portuguese and French) spoken by the majority of Latin Americans.

Even though both terms are used interchangeably, there is a difference between Hispanic and Latino. Hispanic is a term that originally denotes a relationship to Spain, its history, and culture; a native of Spain residing in the United States is a Hispanic.

Latino refers more exclusively to persons or communities of Latin American origin. And, while there is a significant overlap between the groups, Brazilians are a good example of Latinos who are not Hispanic. Both terms were meant to refer to ethnicity, not race; however, in the U.S., they are often used haphazardly to refer to race as well.

In short, “Hispanic” focuses on language Spanish-speaking origin. You are Hispanic if you and/or your ancestry come from a country where they speak Spanish.

“Latino” refers to geography specifically people of Latin American, who have origins to people from the Caribbean (Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic), South America (Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, etc.) and Central America (Honduras, Costa Rica, etc.) This includes Brazil, and excludes Spain.

The newest term to emerge the last few years is Latinx which is gender-neutral alternative to Latino, Latina and even Latin@.

There are 21 Spanish-speaking countries in the world, and here is a list of those countries, and their capitols:

Spain – Madrid

Equatorial Guinea – Malabo

Mexico – Mexico City

Guatemala – Guatemala City

Honduras – Tegucigalpa

El Salvador – San Salvador

Nicaragua – Managua

Costa Rica – San Jose

Panama – Panama City

Cuba – Havana

Dominican Republic – Santo Domingo

Puerto Rico – San Juan

Venezuela – Caracas

Colombia – Bogota

Ecuador – Quito

Peru – Lima

Uruguay – Montevideo

Paraguay – Asuncion

Chile – Santiago

Argentina – Buenos Aires

Bolivia – 2 Capitals: La Paz (Administrative) / Sucre (Constitutional)

The United States?

Should the United States be considered a Spanish speaking country? While English is the most widely spoken, the U.S. has no official language. The number of Spanish speakers in the U.S. currently makes it the second-largest Spanish speaking country in the world (after Mexico), and it is projected to become the largest by 2050. Spanish is widely spoken along the border states of the southern U.S., and in big cities such as Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York.

Spanish-speaking Americans

It is important to understand that there isn’t just one type of Spanish-speaking person in the United States. Spanish-speaking Americans come from a variety of places, and belong to a variety of different ethnic groups. Some examples of Spanish-speaking American groups are Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans, to mention a few. Although tied by the same language, Spanish-speaking Americans don’t share the same historical, political or social experiences. Furthermore, their conditions upon entering this country varied significantly.

Puerto Rican American identity: Between two cultures

Puerto Rican culture is somewhat complex – mostly a fusion of Taíno, African and Spanish influences. Puerto Rico is a rich melting pot of cultures. Over the centuries, these cultures have left countless customs and traditions which can be traced back to our ancestors.

Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens by virtue of the Jones Act of 1917. As American citizens, they can travel freely to, and from, the mainland. And, the recent exploitation of the island’s natural resources, since the U.S. intervention, has caused the overpopulated island’s economy to deplete, resulting in thousands of Puerto Ricans emigrating to the U.S.

Today the island is reeling under more than $70 billion in debt. President Obama recently signed a financial rescue bill allowing for the restructuring of the island’s debts.

From the time of their inception into the mainland –dating back to the 1960s– Puerto Ricans have experienced adjustment issues in the new society. They continue to face ethnic, racial and religious prejudice in the American society.

New York City has a large concentration of people of Puerto Rican descent. Rochester is the second largest city of Latinos in New York State.

A pressing matter for Puerto Ricans in the U.S. is that of their identity. With what they identify in terms of culture and ancestry has been a major source of debate among Puerto Ricans. A rich racial mixture of mulattos, whites, and blacks characterizes Puerto Rico.

La mezcla de las Razas – the mixture of the races is a common term used by many Puerto Ricans to describe their roots.

Puerto Rico is a territory (Commonwealth) of the United States of America, and Puerto Ricans have common citizenship, currency and defense.

However, although Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, residents of Puerto Rico pay no federal income tax, nor can they vote in presidential elections.

As citizens, Puerto Ricans do not require a work visa (also known as green cards) to live and/or work in the United States.

The fact that Puerto Rico has been a US territory since 1898 means Puerto Ricans have also adopted many American traditions. As a result of the island’s close ties with the USA, Puerto Ricans have also learned to merge Spanish language with English, and create what is known as Spanglish.

Puerto Ricans consider themselves to be American, but are fiercely proud of their island, and their culture. They don’t usually call themselves Americans or “Americanos,” but “Puertorriqueños” or “Boricuas.” To most Puerto Ricans, “my country” means “Puerto Rico,” not the United States. Boricua, derived from the Taíno word Boriken is used to affirm Puerto Ricans devotion to the island’s Taíno heritage. The word Boriken translates to “the great land of the valiant and noble Lord”. Borikén was the original name used by the Taíno population before the arrival of the Spanish.


Pew Research Center:

APRIL 4, 2012: When Labels Don’t Fit: Hispanics and Their Views of Identity BY PAUL TAYLOR, MARK HUGO LOPEZ, JESSICA MARTÍNEZ AND GABRIEL VELASCO.

JUNE 29, 2016: Roughly half of Hispanics have experienced discrimination BY JENS MANUEL KROGSTAD AND GUSTAVO LÓPEZ.

Yale New Haven Teachers Institute:

The Heritage and Culture of Puerto Ricans by Rose Christoforo-Mitchell Understanding Ethnic Labels and Puerto Rican Identity by Diana Peña-Pérez.

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