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Fed Up With Gentrification, Latino Teens In Logan Fight Back With Festival

The festival is organized by 10 youth leaders in Logan Square Neighborhood Association.

Courtesy/Kerry Cochrane

LOGAN SQUARE — Fed up with gentrification in Logan Square, a group of youth leaders organized XingonX, a cultural festival designed to showcase the contributions of Latino residents in the neighborhood — stories they say have been "erased" in recent years.

"We're not going to allow developers or Realtors tell [our] stories for us," said Juliet de Jesus Al'ejandre, director of youth organizing for Logan Square Neighborhood Association, which is putting on the festival with help from Logan Square Arts and Craft Bazaar.

According to de Jesus Alejandre, developers and other investors often talk about the neighborhood's Latino history "in such a demeaning way that erases the impact our families have had on the community."

"We're taking back the narrative," she said. We're celebrating Latino history to say, 'We're still here and we're still fighting.'"

The free festival, which kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hairpin Arts Center, 2810 N. Milwaukee Ave., will begin with a craft market, where local vendors and students will sell everything from original photography to recycled handbags.

Beginning at 2 p.m., Mexican dancers will perform. There will be Latin American food for sale, Zumba, as well as face painting and Legos for kids.

Throughout the day, the 10 youth leaders who organized the festival will each take turns leading discussions on their family trees and original artwork, which includes everything from poetry to films.

The festival, which is scheduled to end at 8 p.m., is an extension of last year's trip to Standing Rock, N.D., where the students learned about the fight to save the sacred land and connected with their indigenous roots.

The students have also launched a blog titled, "Brown In Chicago," to "claim their own place in history" through personal stories.

Over the last 15 years, Logan Square has lost more Hispanic residents than of any of the city's 77 community areas, according to U.S. Census data released last year.

Between 2000 and 2014, about 19,200 Hispanic residents moved out of Logan Square, a 35.6 percent decrease, according to the data.

Over that same period, the white population in the neighborhood increased by about 10,340 residents, a 47.6 percent increase.

In 2000, Hispanic residents accounted for 65 percent of the neighborhood’s 82,715 residents. By 2014, Hispanics made up 46.8 percent of the neighborhood.

The festival and other events like it are a way for Logan Square Neighborhood Association to prevent gentrification from displacing as many folks in up-and-coming areas like West Logan Square and Hermosa as it did in East Logan Square, de Jesus Alejandre said.

Xingon loosely translates to "rebel" in Spanish, and the team added an X to make it gender fluid. In the context of the festival, it's meant to convey that the students are both "rebellious" and thoughtful, de Jesus Alejandre said.

Here's a list of some vendors scheduled to attend the market:

• Butterfly cookies

• Plata Mexicana

• Quetzal Artesanias Hand Craft

• Madre de Perla Designs

• Ollin Papalotl

• Sandra Cecilia

• Xica Aguilar

• Eva Gonzalez

• Iris Figueroa

• Olga Aguilar

• Susana Banuelos

• Montserrat Morán Art

• Rosa Hulotlalcoatl Gaytan

• Mosaicos Arte Chicag

Posted in Noticias, Videos, Youth, Affordable Housing, Education, LSNA en la Prensa