The Aspen Times must do better
I was disappointed to see the headline in last weekend's Aspen Times announcing the return of the Raizado festival. The headline sent a terrible message about how some in Aspen seem to feel about the valley's largest minority community.
Referring to the Latino community as "the help" is insensitive and disrespectful. While there is nothing wrong with having a dignified job in the service industry, it is important to recognize that the Latino community that keeps the surrounding resort community running is much more than that.
Polling in the Colorado Latino Policy Agenda found that Latinos on the Western Slope of Colorado were more likely to express experiencing discrimination than in any other part of the state. Your headline is merely another reason why Latinos and Latinas may not feel valued for our full contributions to the economic vitality of the valley, whether we are invited to the party or not.
While we are the workforce that keeps Aspen alive, we have aspirations like any other members of the community. Latinos may not be equitably reflected in local leadership positions today, but our influence continues to grow as we work toward increasing representation and participation at decision-making tables.
We see the value and symbolism in seeing national artists, advocates, political and industry leaders who are also Latino gather in Aspen, and we appreciate Raizado's commitment to trying to make this festival a bit more inclusive. However, the implication that this or any other event hosted by a national group that comes to town is for Aspen's Latino workers is inaccurate. And referring to those essential workers as "the help" is just plain wrong.
Alex Sánchez is the founder and CEO of Voces Unidas de las Montañas and Voces Unidas Action Fund, two Latino-created, Latino-led non-profit organizations working in Summit, Lake, Eagle, Pitkin, and Garfield counties.