What does it mean to be a Latina living in America in 2015? These are the kind of questions that Concepción de Leon, who is a Dominican-born New Yorker, wants you to start asking. An editorial assistant at a women's magazine, De Leon understands the impact that the media can have on a community and hopes her new video series on Vivala will do the same.
One of five winners in the #VivalaSpotlight contest, De Leon wants her video to uncover what it really means to be Latino and feature those who are working to modernize the Latin American experience. She believes that our generation is really developing its voice and flavor by holding onto the things that we love about Latin American culture while still giving it room to grow.
“There are racial tensions that we have to decide whether we are a part of, individualistic ideals that are in contrast with our family-oriented culture, feminist beliefs that go against machista mentalities, etc. My series will engage Latinos in discussions about race, culture, and identity."
De Leon sees this innovation from feminists who are pushing to break down traditional gender roles in Latino culture, chefs who are reinventing authentic Latin meals to make them healthier, and poets who are using their literature to discuss social and political issues. De Leon plans to explore these topics in new ways, whether that means interviewing people in Central Park or having a sit-down interview.
“I'd love to interview them in their space (a kitchen, their office, etc.) and maybe have them teach me something or do something else interactive.”
The idea for this video stemmed from her personal belief that there are many dynamics to being a minority or person of color in America that previous generations didn’t face in their home countries. She especially faced this issue when she went away to college.
“There weren't many Dominicans, so I either was lumped into the black group or the Latino group, and neither felt quite right. So it really made me think about what it meant to be part of these two larger groups — as an individual and as a Dominican woman.”
This made her hyperaware of the fact that she was a minority and forced her to really think about what it meant to be Latina for the first time.
“I questioned how my Latinidad intersected with other experiences and schools of thought I was being exposed to — including but not limited to feminism, race theory, and the history of inequality in America.”
She hopes that her show will help viewers who might be struggling with the same issues by engaging them in conversations about how to navigate this new, complicated Latinidad in their communities.
“I'd like to talk to people or find ways to explore the intersectionality of these sometimes conflicting identities to help us understand our generation's experience better and give words to the cognitive dissonance we all feel.”
De Leon wants to dedicate the show to her seven-year-old sister, who has already benefitted from having access to a diverse range of video content on platforms like YouTube — on- and offscreen.
“I can't tell you how many videos I have of her dancing, putting on 'makeup' or showing off her OOTD.” (She sounds like a Vivala squad member already!)
She believes her thoughtful nature and love of meeting new people will make for an interesting series, and promises it will be vibrant and relatable — like walking into a room full of friends.
“Viewers will be able to relate to the issues covered, and the topics will be fresh and interesting, and the people featured will (mostly) be young people like us.”