Latinidad In The News : Alt.Latino We shine a light on recent stories by NPR hosts, reporters and producers who go beyond the obvious in their coverage of Latinx communities in the U.S.

Latinidad In The News

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FELIX CONTRERAS, HOST:

From NPR Music, this is ALT.LATINO. I'm Felix Contreras. National Hispanic Heritage Month has just passed, and it's a good time to listen back to some of the stories that were featured on NPR news magazines and podcasts that put a spotlight of a different kind on the Latino communities here in the U.S. It's also a chance to feature NPR reporters, producers and hosts who make every effort to report on Latino communities that go beyond the obvious. There won't be any music on this week's show, just the excellent reporting and storytelling you expect from NPR News. To start us off, we're going to hear a pair of stories from Mandalit del Barco. First up, this is All Things Considered host Ailsa Chang introducing the story.

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AILSA CHANG: A small fraction of children's books that are published are written by or about Latinos. But several new groups of writers, editors and literary agents are trying to change that. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO: Latinx-themed children's books that are published are mostly immigration stories or historical biographies. But here's one silly, pun-filled tale about a family of Latino zombies.

JAIME CAMIL: Mo was a zombie with a deep, dark craving. It was dreadful, devious, absolutely despicable. Mo loved to eat vegetables.

DEL BARCO: That's actor Jaime Camil reading from "Zombies Don't Eat Veggies," also published in Spanish as "Los Zombis No Comen Verduras!". Jorge Lacera illustrated and co-wrote the book with his wife, Megan.

JORGE LACERA: We're goofy and silly. And we, like, wanted to write a book out there that represented that.

DEL BARCO: The Colombia-born, Miami-raised, 38-year-old Lacera says publishers rejected the book at first.

LACERA: Some people asking us to take out the Spanish, some people wondering out loud why they had to be a Latinx family. And I think at that moment, it became clear some people get it, and some people don't.

DEL BARCO: The Laceras did find an agent and editor who got it. They got a two-book deal and are now shopping around a film treatment to animate their zombie story. Jorge Lacera is also part of a team of authors helping others to break into the publishing industry. Just 5% of children's books are by or about Latinx people, according to the Cooperative Children's Book Center. Two weeks ago, the group LatinxPitch hosted their first event for writers and illustrators to pitch their children's book ideas.

LACERA: All these wonderful stories were pitched on Twitter. And they were then followed up on by editors and agents who were excited to see them because there was a sense in the publishing industry that they were having a hard time finding authors from these communities. You can't have that excuse anymore, right? Here we are.

DEL BARCO: Another group called Las Musas, the Muses, supports Latina writers with mentorships and webinars. They're planning their first online book festival in December. Writer and activist Aida Salazar is one of the founders of Las Musas.

AIDA SALAZAR: We decided to create this collective that would help amplify each other's work. And we didn't want to be pitted against each other. That happens in many publishing houses. They'll say, well, we've got that one Latina author, so therefore, we don't need another. We know that we have to build each other up. We know that there's plenty of room at the table and that in some instances, we're ready to create our very own table if they don't want to invite us.

DEL BARCO: Salazar's second book, "Land Of The Cranes," debuted two weeks ago. It's a fictional account told in verse of a 9-year-old girl who writes poetry while being held in an immigration detention center. Salazar says she wrote the book to protest immigrant roundups, and she drew on her own family's experiences crossing the border and during ICE detention and getting deported.

SALAZAR: I was born in Mexico, and I was brought over when I was 9 months old. And I lived until I was 12 years old as an undocumented immigrant along with my family. And so this kind of terror that was instilled in the community was very reminiscent of the same kind of cautiousness and fear of la migra that we had growing up.

DEL BARCO: Contrast Salazar's book with "American Dirt," the bestselling novel about a Mexican family fleeing narco violence in Mexico. Writer Myriam Gurba and others called out non-Mexican author Jeanine Cummins for writing what they consider offensive stereotypical portrayals. Backlash against "American Dirt" prompted writer Roberto Lovato to create the hashtag #DignidadLiteraria, literary dignity. Now, Dignidad Literaria is a movement for Latinx literature.

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DAVID BOWLES: This is a clear victory for nuestra gente.

(CHEERING)

BOWLES: Your voices were heard.

DEL BARCO: In February, children's book author David Bowles celebrated after he and other leaders of Dignidad Literaria met with "American Dirt" publishers Flatiron and Macmillan. They demanded the company sign more Latinx writers and diversify their editorial staffs.

BOWLES: We spent two hours having some really, really difficult conversations. And by the end of it, they conceded that, yes, they did have a problem and that they were going to fix it.

DEL BARCO: Bowles, who lives on the Texas-Mexico border, says Macmillan now has a diversity and inclusion council. Dignidad Literaria is working with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to hold the big publishers accountable, starting with pressuring them to reveal employee demographics. This month, for the first time, Penguin Random House did. Seven percent of their non-warehouse workers are Latino, compared to 18.5% in the country.

Mandalit del Barco, NPR News.

CONTRERAS: And now Lulu Garcia-Navarro introducing a lovely remembrance from Mandalit del Barco.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: A remembrance now of Quino. The cartoonist died in Argentina this past week, and the country observed a national day of mourning for him Thursday. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports on the cartoonist beloved in Latin America and around the world.

DEL BARCO: Quino is the pen name of cartoonist Joaquín Salvador Lavado Tejón. The 88-year-old was known as the father of Mafalda, star of comic strips, books and cartoons. Mafalda is a middle-class 6-year-old girl in Buenos Aires - smart, irreverent, feminist and worried about the state of the world. The crusader with a bob haircut, bangs and a bow raises her fist against social injustice, fascism and soup.

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SUSANA KLEIN: (As Mafalda) ¿Pero por qué siempre sopa, mamá? ¿Por qué?

DEL BARCO: Mafalda's adorable baby brother, Guille, loves to eat soup when he's not sucking on his pacifier. The story includes their bemused parents and their friends - Manolito, the capitalist, Felipe, the dreamer, Susanita, the gossip, and politically radical Libertad. Among their many fans around the world is Argentine cartoonist Miguel Repiso, known as Rep.

MIGUEL REPISO: Mafalda es una historieta pacifista, progresista, humanista.

DEL BARCO: "Mafalda" comics are pacifist, progressive, humanist, says Rep, reflecting the rebellious spirit of youth in the 1960s and '70s. This week, Rep mourned his friend and mentor Quino by leaving his own comic strip blank.

REPISO: Lo voy a extrañar para siempre.

DEL BARCO: Rep says he will forever miss his friend, who died at home in the town where he was born, Mendoza, Argentina. Quino grew up there, the son of Andalusian immigrants who discussed politics at the dinner table. That's what Quino told an audience in 2014 at the Buenos Aires International Book Fair.

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JOAQUÍN SALVADOR LAVADO TEJÓN: Tío Joaquín, que fue gracias a él que heredé esta vocación.

DEL BARCO: Quino thanked his tío Joaquín, his uncle, who was a painter and graphic designer, for inspiring him. His tío babysat him and his brothers, entertaining them by drawing.

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QUINO: Y a mí se me abrió un mundo que nunca había soñado, ¿no? Y con un lapicito...

DEL BARCO: With one small pencil, Quino said, his tío Joaquín opened to him the world of illustration. When Quino was 20, he moved to Buenos Aires to illustrate for newspapers and magazines. He first drew "Mafalda" for an electrical appliance ad that was never used. He turned her into a comic strip character.

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QUINO: Yo le tengo mucho cariño a Mafalda por todo lo, lo que me ha dado...

DEL BARCO: I love Mafalda for everything she's given me, he said. That includes a prize from Spain's King Felipe. Daniel Divinsky was Quino's editor at Ediciones de la Flor, which published all 10 "Mafalda" compilation books.

DANIEL DIVINSKY: He was the most important person in the Argentine culture in the last 50 or 60 years. His humor cartoons were always within political intention, respect for human rights.

DEL BARCO: Divinsky says Quino received threats when Argentina's military dictatorship began in 1976. The cartoonist fled to Italy to live in exile until democracy was restored. Over the years, Quino's "Mafalda" books have been reprinted and translated into many languages. Divinsky says an editor at Scholastic once turned down a proposal to publish "Mafalda" in the U.S.

DIVINSKY: He sent me the report of marketing department in the Scholastic that said "Mafalda" is too sophisticated for American children.

DEL BARCO: So Ediciones de la Flor decided to print "Mafalda" books in English. Divinsky announced Quino's death in Spanish on Twitter, saying all the good people in the country and in the world will cry for him.

Mandalit del Barco, NPR News.

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CONTRERAS: And now a story that is a little difficult to get through emotionally. It involves alleged forced sterilizations performed on women who have been held in custody by U.S. immigration authorities. The following discussion took place on the NPR podcast It's Been A Minute with Sam Sanders.

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SAM SANDERS: This month, a disturbing story came to light. A whistleblower who worked at an immigration detention center in Georgia came forward with some serious allegations. She claimed that a doctor charged with the care of migrant women was giving them questionable, if not unnecessary, sterilizations. The outrage was immediate. And also immediate was an attempt to tie this story to a few other things - to link it to the Trump administration and its immigration policies, to link it to a long history of forced sterilization at the hands of the government, often of people from marginalized communities. And there was an attempt to paint the players in the story - the doctor, the whistleblower - in really clear, stark terms. Tina Vásquez is a senior reporter at Prism. She has been covering this story, and she told me all those impulses we had to tie this story to a bunch of other things, well, maybe those impulses were wrong.

Every time I read about this story, I just say to myself, why would a doctor want to do this? Why would a doctor want to do this to women that don't need this procedure? What is the incentive for him? Is it financial? Is it - I mean, do we know yet what the motivations were for some of these procedures, these sterilizations?

TINA VÁSQUEZ: You know, it was really interesting to kind of see people's responses on social media. Like, I think the assumption was, because it was so horrific, that this was some sort of doctor that had personal feelings about, you know, whether immigrant women should be able to have children. I - my gut feeling is that it's not that. My gut feeling is that it's purely financial.

SANDERS: Really?

VÁSQUEZ: Yeah. I mean, I - you know, women I've spoken to, both detained and not detained, say that, you know - I think a direct quote from a woman was that he just sees people as money. You know? That - so the conditions that are kind of - that we're learning about in the detention center, which is that - you know, they were unnecessary operations - right? - unnecessary surgeries.

SANDERS: Yeah.

VÁSQUEZ: He would say you had fibroids or you had an ovarian cyst. I've spoken to women outside the detention center who are former patients, and it was the exact same thing - you know, needless operation after needless operation for financial gain.

SANDERS: You know, you can't see this story and read up on this story and not really think about this long history of forced sterilizations performed on people from marginalized communities, often by some arm of the government. That stuff has a long history in this country. How much is this tied into that? And I guess if you could, briefly let our listeners know how widespread that history is.

VÁSQUEZ: Yeah. I mean, I certainly see it as a part. When I first kind of reported this story and I named the doctor, I outlined what those reproductive injustices look like. And it is, you know, framing that I will say that I kind of regret. I outlined reproductive injustices under the Trump administration. And I really, you know, I - a lot of horrific things have happened to immigrants as a result of the Trump administration. But this doctor operating in Georgia has nothing to do with Trump. There are wrongful death suits that go back to the '90s and allegations that span, you know, years and years. But I will say that, you know, reproductive injustice in particular is just kind of baked into the immigration system.

SANDERS: Wow.

VÁSQUEZ: Some of the things that I outlined were people like Scott Lloyd, who used to oversee the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees, you know, like, migrants who are minors - so under the age of 18. And he took it all the way to the Supreme Court, blocked young women in our custody from accessing abortion care because he was Catholic and did not agree that women or people should be able to access abortion. And so even in instances of rape, he wouldn't allow them to access abortion care. More broadly, I also think of, you know, how Puerto Rican women were tested on so that we could have access to the birth control pill. I mean, this is just what we have done.

SANDERS: Yeah. And talking with you about this story, it seems like a lot of the first narratives around this forced sterilization story are either incomplete or flawed - you know, this idea that the doctor was operating purely out of malice toward migrants when, in fact, it might have been money. This idea that the whistleblower was strictly an angel and the doctor was strictly a villain - that has been further complicated. What is the lesson in all of that for just news consumers and Americans when there's headlines like these that lead us to certain narratives that actually might be a lot more complicated?

VÁSQUEZ: That's a really good, hard question. I mean, what I am learning to do as a reporter and what I hope that news consumers do is to learn that, you know, people have interests for coming forward. They have angles. They have reasons why they do. That has been a thing that I've really had to sit with as a reporter. Like, you know, I am increasingly not quick to uplift someone as a hero. You know, I've been an immigration reporter for a long time. But the past week or so was a very big reminder that, when we're, like, consuming news about immigration, we really need to see who is being cited in those pieces and if those people are immigrants and if those people are impacted people because, you know, all of us are kind of scrambling to try to figure out what happened in this small town in Georgia, what happened at this detention center. But it's like women have been waiting for us to catch up and...

SANDERS: Yeah.

VÁSQUEZ: ...Figure this out.

SANDERS: Yeah.

VÁSQUEZ: And so if you're, you know, consuming news and the most impacted people aren't featured or centered, I would question the news that you're reading and whether or not it's much more complicated than it seems.

SANDERS: Yeah. And I also think migrants have been used as political pawns on both sides of the aisle for a while.

VÁSQUEZ: Yeah.

SANDERS: And as soon as stories like these break, they become political and they become tools for a lot of advocates to say, vote for this person or that person; give money to this or to that. And there's not that further unpacking of what's really going on and what these women really need.

VÁSQUEZ: Yeah.

SANDERS: And I think this is a moment for people to question why they glom onto these stories and how, and whether it is for their ends or for the needs of the people actually being hurt.

VÁSQUEZ: Yeah. I mean, absolutely. This week has just been so complicated, you know, because you have a lot of people assuming - and I may have contributed to that, regretfully, that this is a Trumpian thing - right? - that these hysterectomies, that these forced sterilizations are directly related to the Trump administration. I don't think that's the case. And then in that framing, the reporting that I did, like, kind of outlined some of those reproductive injustices under the Trump administration. I have learned this week after doing interviews with women who are patients of this doctor outside of detention that that framing made them reluctant to speak to me because they are women who live in rural Georgia who were very quick to tell me that they voted for Trump, and they support Trump and that this has nothing to do with Trump. And my framing made them very reluctant to reach out.

SANDERS: Yeah. You know, Tina, so much of the conversation of this last week has been about RBG and the Supreme Court and her replacement and what that means for Roe v. Wade and women's access to abortion. And it underscores this reality for the left that the main focus of women's health and reproductive rights, politically, it's abortion. But, you know, reproductive rights - it's so much more than that. It is also about choosing when or consenting to a hysterectomy, in the case of your reporting. It is about access to birth control or any number of things. How does the nature of America's political focus help or hurt women like the ones that you're covering who have very little agency and a different set of needs than perhaps the loudest voices in these debates over the rights of women?

VÁSQUEZ: Yeah. When the news emerged that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died, I, you know, had a very strong reaction and had concerns, even as an American citizen with lots of privileges. But I did think about the women that I've been covering. You know, I report on abortion access a lot, especially across the South. And, you know, in the borderlands, you're essentially - Border Patrol gets to act like you're in a constitution-free zone. And I spoke to abortion funders across the South and abortion providers and how sometimes the South can feel like a Roe-free zone. You know, Roe v. Wade is in effect. It's in place. But there are lots of pregnant people, especially in this area of the country, who cannot access abortion care or who experience insurmountable barriers.

I understand, you know, the focus and the importance of the Supreme Court, but I also know that the courts haven't protected everyone. I also know that court cases don't mean, you know, on the ground, that people can access the care that they need. So it's all - we need it all. It's all complicated. You know, we need to think through all of this and who has access to care. And it's not as simple as, you know, save the courts.

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SANDERS: That was Tina Vásquez. She is a senior reporter at Prism. When we spoke, Tina was still reporting the story out. You can read more of her work as it comes out at prismreports.org.

Tina, thank you for all your thoughtful work.

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CONTRERAS: You're listening to ALT.LATINO from NPR Music. This week, we're turning to the news and specifically NPR newsmagazines for stories from the last month that put the spotlight on Latino communities here in the U.S. Now, up next, a look back at the 50th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium. Andrea Gutierrez is a producer for Sam Sanders on the It's Been a Minute podcast. And in the next piece, she takes a very personal look back at Chicano history.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY: This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium. On August 29, 1970, hundreds of Mexican Americans in Los Angeles marched to protest the Vietnam War. Sheriff's deputies and police officers broke up the protests, and by the end of the day, 200 people were arrested, three were dead. Now, many Americans don't learn about the moratorium in school, but the protests influenced an entire generation of Chicano activists, some of whom overcame the trauma of that day, some of whom never did.

NPR's It's Been a Minute producer Andrea Gutierrez brings us a story about what the moratorium represents not just for Mexican Americans nationwide but for her own family.

ANDREA GUTIERREZ: Can you tell me what you know about it?

MONICA: I know it's part of the Chicano movement. But it was a protest against the disproportionate number of Chicano youth being sent to Vietnam and dying.

GUTIERREZ: That's my sister, Monica. We got together a little while ago to talk about the events around the Chicano Moratorium and our family's connection to it. Lots of people protested the Vietnam War in the 1970s.

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UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Stop the war now. Stop the war now.

GUTIERREZ: But like my sister said, Mexican Americans were dying in Vietnam in big numbers, about twice their proportion of the U.S. population. That is why this movement was called a moratorium. Protesters wanted to end this loss of life.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Chicanos are marching to protest the high casualty rate of our people in Vietnam.

LORENA OROPEZA: So this was the Chicano movement's main argument - la batalla está aquí, our war is here. And we should be addressing inequities on the home front, not dying in Vietnam.

GUTIERREZ: That's Lorena Oropeza. She's a professor of history at the University of California, Davis. As my sister and I started to look back on the moratorium, I called Oropeza to learn more. She says Chicanos weren't just protesting the war. They were also fighting for other issues, like education and economic equity. They were fighting to belong.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Because today was a day of history.

GUTIERREZ: Oropeza says at least 20,000 people marched that day. They were filled with hope.

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UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Singing) ...Del dolor, y yo soy chicano, y tengo...

GUTIERREZ: But then things took a turn.

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GUTIERREZ: A disturbance at a local liquor store turned into a scuffle between police and protesters at an East LA park.

OROPEZA: So when the sheriff's deputies throw a tear gas canister, like, one young lady picked it up and threw it back at the sheriff's deputies.

GUTIERREZ: In the chaos, buildings burned. About 200 people were arrested, many were injured, and three people were killed, including Rubén Salazar. He was a Spanish-language TV news director and columnist for the Los Angeles Times who was dedicated to covering the Chicano community.

MONICA: Out of the blue, he said, you know, I was there when Rubén Salazar was murdered. And I was like, what?

GUTIERREZ: That's my sister Monica again. Turns out our dad was there that day of the protests. And he almost never talked to us about it.

MONICA: And that was the first time that Dad had ever mentioned anything like of an identity of Chicano. Like, we - up to that point, I had only ever heard Dad, like, say, you know, we're American, and that answers all questions.

GUTIERREZ: Dad passed away in 2011. But even when he was alive, we never talked much about our identity. Chicano felt like a dirty word. And as I talked more with my sister, we pieced together some of our family history that helped explain our dad's silence. It goes back generations.

MONICA: Grandma talked about how they only spoke Spanish in the family until she went to kindergarten. And then after that, her parents were very adamant she speak English. No more Spanish for her - and that she had to assimilate and try to be as white as possible. But no matter what Grandma did, time and time and time again, Grandma was discriminated against. I kind of feel like Dad maybe had the same attitude that grandma had in that right before Grandma passed away, I asked her if she ever imagined that people would want to learn Spanish, that it would be so common and so accepted. And she said, I had no idea. If I had known, I would have taught Spanish to my kids a long time ago. And she said, I was just trying to save my kids. I think we saw that like, wait, you didn't save us from anything. It still happens. I mean, how many times in our lives have we been asked, like, what are you? And then we give an answer? No, but like, really? What are you? You know, or like...

GUTIERREZ: Where are you really from?

MONICA: ...You know, questioning, do you speak Spanish? OK. Why don't you speak Spanish? Oh, shame on you. You don't speak Spanish and stuff like that. Like, that's - you know, it's not a shameful thing. And I feel like it was kind of that way for Dad and then for the generation before.

GUTIERREZ: How much have you thought about that, especially now that you're a parent? How much does that - how have you brought that to the future?

MONICA: You're going to make me cry (laughter). It is a huge piece of my parenting. And with my daughter - can I say her name?

GUTIERREZ: If you want to.

MONICA: OK (laughter). So Olivia is my daughter, and she is 9. And before she was even born, I knew without a doubt I wanted her to learn Spanish from a young age. I'm going to find a way. And from there, like, I wanted to raise her to know where she's from and to keep fighting the good fight.

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KELLY: That was Andrea Gutierrez of NPR's It's Been A Minute podcast, sharing her family history with the Chicano Moratorium. Anjuli Sastry, also from the podcast, produced the piece.

CONTRERAS: And finally, a conversation with the great Linda Ronstadt. Lulu Garcia-Navarro talked to her on Weekend Edition Sunday recently about a recognition she was receiving for her musical legacy. And we present it here because, well, she's Linda Ronstadt. All praise for Linda here on ALT.LATINO.

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LINDA RONSTADT: (Singing) I've been cheated, been mistreated. When will I be loved?

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GARCIA-NAVARRO: Linda Ronstadt, chart-topping, Grammy- and Emmy-winning Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, is due to be honored again this week with a Hispanic Heritage Award. It's in recognition both of her pop music and her smash hit mariachi albums.

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RONSTADT: (Singing) Por un amor...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And Linda Ronstadt joins us now. Welcome to the program, and congratulations.

RONSTADT: Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: A lot of people didn't realize that you have roots in Mexico until you released your mariachi albums in the late 1980s. How much of an influence did those roots have on your singing?

RONSTADT: Well, tremendous. And the singer that had the most influence on my singing style was Lola Beltrán, who is sort of the Édith Piaf of Mexico. You know, Mexican culture is often so taken for granted and sort of invisible in the United States. And it's hard to sort of get through that screen. It wasn't anything that I hid, but it was just not as acknowledged as whatever else they were acknowledging. My vocal style is very influenced by Mexican singing. It's a belt style. I wasn't influenced by blues or Black church as much as most rock 'n' roll people were. I was much more influenced by Mexican music, singers and rhythms.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, you are featured in an upcoming documentary called "Linda And The Mockingbirds."

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Linda invited our group, Los Cenzontles, to join her in going to Mexico.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I must ask, when did you find the time to make a documentary? Because I'll note that it's now been seven years since you announced that you had Parkinson's.

RONSTADT: Well, I didn't make the documentary. I mean, we had a film crew going with us to Mexico because we were trying to get the end of the documentary they were making about me, which I also didn't make but somebody else was making. I was cooperating with it. And they wanted to have an interview. And I said, if you want an interview, you have to come to Mexico and interview me there because I had this trip planned. And I figured it'd be more fun to do that than sit in my living room and be a talking head. And I had planned to take this trip with this cultural group that I work with called Los Cenzontles.

They teach young children from the ages of 6 to 19 how to play traditional Mexican music, how to play the instrument, sing and dance, and they also teach visual art. And it's one of the most exciting places I've ever been involved with. I've been working with them for almost 30 years now. They teach children to play music, not to be performing fields but to use it socially, to express their emotions and to communicate with each other. And the kids that come out of that program have a much better chance of finishing high school. There's fewer teen pregnancies, more of them go to college and finish. Some of them turn out to be really great professional musicians. That's not the goal. The goal is to teach them how to have tools to socialize with in a way to connect back to their original culture with pride and dignity.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Working with that group for 30 years, tell me why it's so important for you to connect with your heritage in that way.

RONSTADT: Well, I grew up in the Sonoran Desert, which is an area that exists on both sides of the border. In fact, my family was in that part of the world before this was a country. So to say they were newcomers is a bit of a stretch. Even here in California, my family came here in 1769. So, you know, I resent anybody saying, go back where you came from. It's been easier for me because I'm light-skinned and I have a German surname, so I'm sort of a secret Mexican American. Some people don't realize who they're talking to, and they start making racist remarks.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Has that happened to you?

RONSTADT: Oh, yeah, and to my father, too. He'd be at a cocktail party and somebody would start saying these Mexicans, they come in here and called some slur, ethnic slur. It's not a good thing to do to my dad.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How would he react?

RONSTADT: Well, he's very stern. He'd put up with no racist talk.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, I must say you must have inherited something of that from him, as well. You are very outspoken. And last year, during a dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors, you very famously took Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to task for, quote, "enabling President Trump." What happened after that? Were there any after effects?

RONSTADT: Chief Justice Roberts came in my box the following night with Nancy Pelosi and was full of praise - not about that specific thing but in general. And he sent me then an autographed picture of himself, of the two of us together and asked me to send a photograph of themselves. So they couldn't have been too mad.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What music is getting you through this moment? You know, often in times of difficulty, people gravitate to certain types of music or particular songs that give them comfort. Do you have any of those?

RONSTADT: Well, I listen to opera a lot. I have to say, I listen to opera a lot on YouTube. And I love it because I can hear one soprano singing an aria from "La Traviata" and I can hear five other ones from different times - Rosa Ponselle to Maria Callas to Anna Netrebko. It's fun to be able to compare them. But recently I reinstalled my turntable and got my vinyl albums out. And I put on "Pet Sounds" by The Beach Boys. And it was a revelation. Brian Wilson is a genius. I love his music. It cheered me up.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WOULDN'T IT BE NICE")

THE BEACH BOYS: (Singing) Wouldn't it be nice if we were older?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's amazing. You got out your turntable. Do you have a big vinyl collection?

RONSTADT: No. I have only about 10 records. I gave up all my vinyl when CDs became so ubiquitous, but I never thought they sounded as good as vinyl.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NORWEGIAN WOOD")

THE BEATLES: (Singing) I wanted a girl.

RONSTADT: So I just got a couple of vinyl pressings of classic things that I like - "Rubber Soul," "Kind Of Blue" by Miles Davis, which is a perfect record.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RONSTADT: "Blue" by Joni Mitchell, which is another perfect record.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CAREY")

JONI MITCHELL: (Singing) Oh, you know it sure is hard to leave here, Carey. But it's really not my home.

RONSTADT: "Graceland" by Paul Simon. All of his records are great, but I'm fond of that one because I sang on it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UNDER AFRICAN SKIES")

PAUL SIMON: (Singing) His path was marked by the stars in the Southern Hemisphere. And he walked his days under African skies.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Do you have a message for the Latino community at this time, since this is a Hispanic Heritage Award?

RONSTADT: Well, keep your powder dry. Keep fighting. You know, there's a lot of abuses by ICE in the jails and the private prison corporations is taking tremendous advantage of the fact that they can lock people up for long periods of time with utter neglect. And the fact that are locking children up in the cages and separating from their families is just cruel beyond words. It's such a disgrace. People are in the streets rioting - not rioting, but they're demonstrating in the streets, and they have to keep demonstrating.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, you have meant a great deal to a great many people. That is Linda Ronstadt. She'll receive the Hispanic Heritage Award in a virtual ceremony this week that will also be broadcast by PBS. Thank you very much and congratulations. Felicidades.

RONSTADT: Thank you for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "POR UN AMOR")

RONSTADT: (Singing) Que se acabe no es para ti...

CONTRERAS: You've been listening to ALT.LATINO and a special show looking back at the coverage of the Latino communities here in the U.S. and aired on NPR newsmagazines during Latino Heritage Month. So thank you for listening to the stories we presented. You've been listening to ALT.LATINO. From NPR Music, I'm Felix Contreras. As always, thank you so much for listening. And please be careful out there. It's not over, folks. Please be careful.

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