Yvette Peña, Vice President and multicultural leader at AARP opened the second Latina Summit 2020 conference by expressing her satisfaction for participating in a lively conversation about Latin X. “I´m honored to be here today to have this wonderful discussion,” she said with a splendid smile.
Popular host Lizzie G, moderated this interesting Zoom conference on Hispanic identity and culture, organized by Hispanic Media and supported by Independence Blue Cross.
Yvette Peña was born in New York City. She is a first-generation daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic who inherited from her hard-working family the entrepreneurial spirit she exhibits.
Her mother, a single mother of two who came to the U.S. and overcame the difficulties of migration and started a bakery business in New York has played a very relevant role in this sense. She taught her the motto “You can do it!”
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Education has been very important in her formation. Her personal values of perseverance and self-improvement are due to her family. Yvette Peña remembers her mother telling her: “You can´t get to where you want without getting an education”, so she raised Yvette and her brother making sure they were on the path to college.
On Latin X
The multicultural leader believes that people should identify with what they feel they are. “I identify myself as an Afro-Latina. I know my ancestors, I traced them. I know who I am and where my roots are.”
However, identity exhibits variations and Peña relies on research to demonstrate it. According to a Pew Research Center study, 61% of Spanish-speaking people in the United States identify themselves as Hispanic and 21% as Latinos.
These variations are produced according to the countries and cultures that these human groups feel as cultural origin. They can be countries from South America, Central America, Europe or the Caribbean.
In comparison with these groups, the cultural identification under the term Latin X is reduced and still quite unknown. However, for Yvette Peña, the term is very interesting because it raises questions about who we are. “It is a term that has made people to look at us, and think about Hispanics. I love that people may question their identity.”
And she adds: “A lot of people don´t even know what it is, but for those who use it and embrace it, especially the LGBTQ community, I feel it is fine. We need to come together, no matter how you identify. We need to come together to do whatever it is that we need to do. Let´s keep the conversation going, the door is open.”
When asked about the path that led her to her current position as Vice President and multicultural leader at AARP, Yvette Peña stated with enthusiasm and conviction that her achievements are the result of key people like her mother and aunts who were her mentors and main inspiration. “I had goals, I had a passion to grow but these mentors kept pushing me where I wanted to go.”