I am Puerto Rican, born and raised.
I left Puerto Rico in the summer of 2011 for many reasons, but the major one was the economy of the island had been spiraling out of control. I came to Baltimore, Maryland because I had friends who would help me get started.
Sometime in 2012, I decided to pursue writing. I had written before–small vignettes, snippets for gaming supplements–but not anything ready for commercial publication. I worked with a critique group held in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s building. I got better, honed my craft, and started following the magazines to which I submitted.
I still find myself asking where the Latino authors are. There are several well-known names, all mentioned here. However, when I read the big magazines such as Asimov’s, Clarkesworld or The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Latinos are almost non-existent in their pages. Compared to works by Asian authors, Latinos (who share the same hemisphere, if not borders with the U.S.) do not seem to be represented.
I have no idea why.
I also don’t know what it means.
As per the 2014 U.S. Census data, Latinos comprise 17.4% of the population. The next highest percentage of the population is “Black/African-American” with 13.2%.
I have a few observations on why this might be:
- Latinos often intersect with other racial groups. Afro-Caribbeans, for instance make up 34-46% of Puerto Rico’s population.
- Language. I can’t help but think of the Junot Diaz quote. It is this: for the monolingual, they don’t seem to understand how pervasive code-switching and substituting even simple words for those in the alternate language. Even when using Spanish where its meaning is contextualized, I have received critiques about how it took the reader out of the story. I can’t help but bite my tongue and wonder why such readers will take in phrases in made-up languages, but not give a real-world one the same benefit of the doubt.
- Latino countries are reported in the media as being poor, uneducated, and therefore the underlying message seems to be: they will not be part of the future. There are many reasons this viewpoint seems to persist which are outside the scope of this post.
Who are the Latino authors you’re reading now? I’d love to know.