Hispanics Want to Escape Image Cast by Crime Shadow
Kaplan, Allison, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Allison Kaplan Daily Herald Staff Writer
Today's Hispanic Heritage Month Parade in Elgin is about celebration, said community leader Jerry Campagna, not politics.
But with the Hispanic community threatening protests if its members keep getting blamed for image troubles in Elgin, shouts of celebration this afternoon are certain to be intensified with greater than usual verve.
"The parade and fiesta are about celebrating where we come from," said Campagna, publisher of the Fox Valley Hispanic newspaper Los Reflejos. "But I'm sure the issues will be discussed informally. Emotions are going to be flying high.
"If some of these issues are not soon addressed to bring the temperature down, it is going to be a formula for disaster," Campagna said.
Leaders of Elgin's Hispanic community say the group is being attacked by one media outlet with negative reports that stereotype and turn the Hispanic people - who now account for 26 percent of Elgin's population - into scapegoats for any and all problems in town.
This week, the Elgin Hispanic Network formed a committee to look at media coverage and ways to create a better understanding of the community, said Jane Barbosa, Elgin Community College's multicultural admissions coordinator who will head up the group.
"My dream," Barbosa said, "is at least for Hispanic Heritage month to have the newspapers highlight people who have paid their dues. I don't see that happening."
An in-depth analysis of this year's Community 2000 quality of life survey found cultural relations to be one of the top three factors relating to poor results on questions about image. A committee assigned last spring to work on Elgin's image is now shifting its focus to concentrate on race relations, said Community 2000 co-Chairman Brinsley Lewis. …