With Reno’s second largest racial/ethnic makeup being individuals who identify as Latino or Hispanic, there has been a lack of visibility in the city in regard to festivals celebrated throughout Latin America.
Without much visibility of events that carry cultural significance and years of practice it almost makes me, a Latino, feel isolated in this city. Events like Día de Los Muertos, Carnaval and Cinco de Mayo play a vital role for certain communities, and without that visibility there can not be a strong Latino community. Cities like Los Angeles, El Paso and New York City have embraced their Latino communities, and take value in cultural events by hosting events on days of cultural significance.
Events held during Día de Los Muertos are usually hosted by the University of Nevada, but it is not recognized on a city-wide basis. Worldwide, Día de Los Muertos is celebrated to honor dead family members and welcome them back on the first day of November. To welcome back their loved ones for the day they have individuals set up altars with toys, food and flowery skulls. Parades are usually held with individuals dressed in clothing their loved ones would have worn as well as painting themselves to look like skeletons.
The day is filled with music, food and dance but there has yet to be a large festival held or parade held in Reno to celebrate a day that is important for many Mexican Americans. If there were to be a festival hosted not only would it bring increased visibility to the Latino community in Reno, but it would also be a great way for the community to learn about Latinx culture and traditions.
According to Data USA, in 2016 the largest make up of foreign-born individuals in the state of Nevada were those of Mexican origin followed by the Philippines and El Salvador.
Without cultural representation of an ethnic group so prominent in the city and state, there is a lack of acknowledgment they are a part of the community.
Reno hosts amazing festivals every year — Burning man, The Great Eldorado BBQ, Brews and Blues Festival and many more — adding a few more festivals won’t hurt the community it will only empower it. Events like Carnaval and Cinco de Mayo would bring a new cultural dynamic to the city and involve the Latino community.
Despite there being a need for these festivals in the Reno community, there also needs to be a push from the Latino community to bring these events to the city. Without the voices of those who are underrepresented pushing to be represented there cannot be change.
With a large population of Latinos in the city, there can be partnerships made with leaders in the Latino community to bring these events. It is a way to show Latinos who come to Reno that there is a sense of unity and support for the community.
It will be a way to show Latino students at UNR that their population is active and bringing aspects of home to the city. It would reassure me that I am not alone in a city where I struggle to connect to my culture.
Andrew Mendez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.