I have always lived my life in the hyphen, but didn’t always know it. My upbringing started out rough. Raised by a single dad, in a neighborhood with more gang members than school counselors, things didn’t go well for me. I got tracked right into the school to prison pipeline and ended up on juvenile parole by 15 and dropped out of school by 17. The labels started early. Criminal. Gang Member. High School Drop Out.
But after I got the intervention I so desperately needed, the labels remained, but the titles changed. First gen college student. Lawyer. Latina elected official (the first ever in the state of Nevada). But even with the new titles I never did feel like I quite fit in.
I struggled to live authentically as a bilingual Latina professional who enjoyed carne asadas as much as back yard BBQ’s, who could easily fit in at a black-tie gala and a quinceńera, who could speak policy and politics in English on CNN and Spanish on Univision but as is often said, still wasn’t American enough for the Americans, or Mexican enough for the Mexicans. And all the while mainstream media created narratives for us, and about us, but rarely with us.
Luz Collective was born out of the dire need to reclaim our stories and celebrate our uniqueness. Luz Collective strives to disintegrate the labels and celebrate the hyphen. Latinas are so much more than we’re recognized for and given credit for. Our skin is black, it’s brown, and it’s white. We are descendants of indigenous peoples, enslaved families, and yes, even the conquistadors who inflicted mass genocide on our shared ancestors. We are American. We are Latinas. We are Latinx.
We are whatever we want to be, united in our Latinidad.
We are more than 30 million strong and command over 700 billion dollars a year in purchasing power. We are 1 in every 5 women now and by 2060, we will be 1 in every 3. When we lead small businesses, we see the strongest revenue growth amongst all women.
Luz Collective was built because we were tired of being undervalued, marginalized, and misrepresented. We built Luz Collective so that young girls could see themselves represented differently than generations past. We built Luz Collective because there is strength in numbers and together we are unstoppable.
Luz Collective is the past, present, and future. Luz Collective is all of us.