Pueblo, 40 miles south, has long been a place where Latinos have held power and community leadership positions. Historically, when it comes to a similarly organized structure for Hispanics living in the Springs, forget about it. But things just might be changing around here.
What's the main issue facing Hispanics locally? It's hard being a minority anywhere, and Colorado Springs is almost entirely Caucasian. At Colorado College, students tend to assume I'm there due to affirmative action, and that's not so. It's unfair.
What's the best part of being Latina? I don't generally walk around thinking about being Hispanic. I like being from a fairly rare background, though. I'm extremely proud of my ethnicity.
Have you experienced prejudice here? It's not all that unusual when I look at something nice in a store, for a salesperson to hint that it's too expensive for me.
What's the biggest issue facing Hispanics in this town? We don't have enough Latinos in positions of leadership, education or management, and the Hispanic community doesn't fully unite behind those we have.
What's the best thing about being Latino? Our culture. The food, the family ethic, the music. It's all wonderful.
Who would you identify as the key Latino figure around here? I admire those like Alicio Duran, Fred Collazo, Luis Cortez, Marge Vasquez, who opened doors and paved the way for younger, up-and-coming Latinos like Lionel Rivera.
What's your view of the English-only movement? It's important to be able to function in the dominant language, but it's an advantage to be multi lingual. I oppose single-language movements.
How would you characterize local relations between Hispanics and the police? Pretty good overall, but there's room for improvement. I applaud current efforts by the police and judicial system to recruit Spanish-speaking people.
What's the best thing about being Hispanic? The pride we take in our culture. We have quite a few Hispanic customers and employees where I work and there's a distinct sense of community.
Have you ever experienced prejudice here? About three years ago I passed through a little Western Slope town called Paonia. The main hangout on the main drag downtown, this pool hall/bar, had a sign at the front door saying "No spics or niggers."
What is the relationship between Hispanics and police in the Springs? I belong to a car club and have a customized truck. Driving it, Hispanic cops are far more likely to pull me over and give me grief for no reason than white or black cops.
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