If words mean things, so do the letters that make them up. How many times have you received the message Feliz Ano Nuevo or Feliz Cumpleanos from your non-Latino (and in some cases Latino) friends? We can bet that it has occurred often enough to make you “cry in Spanish.” The rest of the world may never understand the importance of the letter ñ but that may soon change thanks Project Enye (ñ).
The project began when co-founder Denise Soler Cox, a Puerto Rican woman from Weschester County, N.Y., realized that she felt like she didn’t fit in.
“I was either acting too white or my Spanish just wasn’t good enough. Somehow I wasn’t Latina or Puerto Rican enough,” Cox says.
In elementary school her platano filled lunches made her feel different from her classmates who carried PB&J sandwiches and macaroni and cheese — as she mentions in the #EnyesCount campaign video. Even living within a Puerto Rican community, she still felt out of place.
It wasn’t until she moved to Miami after she graduated from college that she had her aha moment. During a night out on the town with her new friends, she realized that they all had similar experiences and suddenly felt connected with this in between place of the cultural Venn diagram they resided in – the enye (ñ) culture made up of first generation Latinos who are “just as American as they are Latino.”
Cox wanted to spread this newfound sense of identity and feeling of belonging. So in 2012, she teamed up with four-time Emmy Award Winner and Academy Award nominee Henry Ansbacher to create Project Enye (ñ) to give other first-generation Americans with parents from Spanish speaking countries a platform to share their stories. The team is also working on a multimedia documentary project called “Enye Stories” that takes on what it means to be an Enye.
In addition to providing a place for Enyes to connect, Project Enye (ñ) is taking on Twitter. On August 17th, the #WhereInTheWorldIsTheÑ campaign was launched in partnership with Sofrito For Your Soul, a website with a similar mission of showing “what it’s like to be a Latino in America from a cultural perspective.” Their goal: to get the social media platform to allow users to add the letter ñ to their Twitter handles because as we all know, the letters n and ñ are not interchangeable. This is especially unsettling considering U.S. Hispanic adults outpace the overall country when it comes to social media usage and Spanish is the second most spoken language in the country.
As power users of these platforms, it is only right that Twitter handles can actually handle the letter ñ for the Saldañas and Camaños of the world who want to use their given names. Hashtags already have the capability.
The message is clearly resonating within the community since they have already received considerable support with the campaign receiving 3.2 million impressions just last month. Project Enye (ñ) sent a letter to Twitter in August and is still awaiting a response. They gave them the appropriate deadline of September 15th, the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month.
We hope that Twitter will make #WhereInTheWorldIsTheÑ a thing of the past. A world without the letter ñ is a world with a lot of happy anuses but no happy birthdays. And who wants to live in a world like that?