For my gesture, I hosted a space in Union Square Park where passersby’s can come talk about their Latinx experiences in America. I’ll ask people to recall their experiences in the American education system and their opinions about the type of representation and recognition they receive in the media and from the government; how it has affected their sense of identity.
I made a poster which read “TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LATINX EXPERIENCE IN AMERICA”, and sat in several spots in Union Square while people passed by.
It was interesting to note peoples original reactions towards the poster, some read it as they walked onward towards their destination, others disregarded it, but a few people both Latinx and non-Latinx stopped by to read the poster more in-depth or to tell me their story. It was interesting to hear the varied experiences from people. To my surprise, several people came up to me excitedly to tell me their story.
There was a Puerto Rican man born in California named Carlos who walked up to me and explained that due to his paler complexion than many of his family members and growing up in a predominantly white area, his culture and his race were often swept aside and undermined. People would call him white regardless of him correcting them.
A Mexican-American woman from California caught up to me as I was moving locations and told me that she really appreciated me sitting there making this unspoken issue public. She spoke to me about her upbringing and how her father did not want to expose her to her Mexican side and only raise her as a white American. She said her father felt shameful of his Mexican heritage and didn’t want his daughter being apart of Mexican culture because it was something to be embarrassed by.
Another woman who I briefly spoke to was curious about what the ‘X’ in ‘LatinX’ and mentioned that she is Mexican-American but she was never exposed to that side of her identity.
Another older Puerto Rican man came up to ask about the ‘X’ in the sign and we ended up talking about his experience growing up in New York. I mentioned the Mexican-American girl’s experience and he said that it is up to the parents to teach children the customs of their respective culture. Although I do agree that it is the parent’s responsibility to educate their children, I believe it is the country’s responsibility to be held accountable for being truthful about their history.
Overall, I felt that my gestural approach to my monument surpassed the expectations I had for it. Many people took interest and positively interacted with the gesture. It educated and intrigued the people walking past which is essentially the purpose of the La Raza monument.