Home News Center NJJN Celebrates Latinx Heritage Month - September 2020

NJJN Celebrates Latinx Heritage Month - September 2020

September 29, 2020
Courtney M. McSwain

September 15 - October 15 marks Latinx Heritage Month! As NJJN works to create a better system of support and dignity for justice-involved youth who are disproportionately Black and Brown, it is necessary to honor the beauty and complexities of the cultures we fight for. For us, honoring Latinx Heritage month means amplifying the history, complexities, diversity and resilience of those who identify as Latinx. We encourage you to set aside space with your team this month to share conversation and reflections on the many Latinx voices, cultures and contributions to youth justice advocacy and the broader movement for social justice.

A few resources to help spark discussion this month:

Latinx Youth & the Justice System

The Latinx Data Gap in the Youth Justice System, September 2020.

Published by the UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative and Alianza for Youth Justice, this report exposes the critical lack of accurate data that count Latinx young people in youth and adult criminal justice systems. The lack of accurate reporting on Latinx ethnicity limits the understanding of system-impacted youth and efforts to transform the ways in which Latinx young people interact with the system. Further, a lack of ethnic data can make Latinx youth feel invalidated in their identity and representation, as expressed by first-hand youth accounts shared in the report. Read more

“Growing Numbers of Latino and Native Youth in Juvenile Detention Buck Trend” by the Annie E. Casey Foundation

“It’s alarming that in spite of the risks of COVID-19 and how easily it can spread in detention centers, the population of Latino and Native American young people has actually increased,” says Nate Balis, director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group. Read more.

Latinx Identity

Latino Heritage: A Discussion Activity

Teaching Tolerance, a repository of educational resources to help educators create civil and inclusive school communities, provides a Latinx discussion activity and guide for children in grades 6-12. One of the featured essays is, “Don’t Call Me Puerto Rican,” written by a teen writer from New York who discusses the power of identity and the misunderstanding of the variance in Latinx cultures - an important lesson for youth and adults to explore. Read more.

Who Do We Think We Are?

In a series of articles, Colorlines sets out to explore Latinx racial identity, looking at the experiences of “Latinx-identified movement leaders, artists and cultural innovators.” The series asks questions about what Latinx racial identity means for their work and racial justice. Read more.

Latinx Community + Black Lives Matter

“As a Latinx student, Black Lives Matter movement is my responsibility, too.” Edsource.org, June 2020. 

On Edsource.org, California State University student Marlene Cardova shares why she feels a responsibility to the Black Lives Matter movement as a Latinx student.

“I understand that a big part of our silence comes from fear of stepping out of line and getting into trouble or upsetting the powers that be. The generations of Latinos who immigrated to America have never wanted to step on white toes. They recognize the power that is held over their heads. Their main focus is to provide for their families. They choose to stay quiet during times of injustice because they feel there is nothing they can do to change it…I might not have every answer or know how to help proactively, but I’m willing to learn. I’m eager to break old habits and speak up against my own people to stand up for what I believe is right. For me, that’s living a life of justice for those who never got the chance to do so.” Read more.

“How Latinx People Can Fight Anti-Black Racism in Our Own Culture.” TeenVogue.com, June 2020.

In this op-ed for Teen Vogue, author Angie Jaime explores the topic of anti-Black racism within Latinx cultures.

“Part of the commitment to fight racism, even with our closest loved ones and family members, must begin first with taking a close look at areas where we might improve our own behavior in day-to-day life. That means, even doing the work of self-education on areas in which you may be lacking information. Ask yourself tough questions like, “Do I understand that, while I may experience oppression because of, for example, immigration status, poverty, and political violence in my country of descent, Black Americans in this country experience a daily violence that urgently needs to be addressed?” “Am I really considering the ways I’m privileged in this specific context, and if not, what can I do to better inform myself?” “Where and when have I let moments of racism slide, because I didn’t want to cause problems?” And even more crucially, “Am I listening to and believing Black and Afro-Latino people in my everyday life, when they raise their concerns about racism?” Read more.


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