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Rochester’s Latinx community presents agenda

Ibero- American Action league

Ibero-American Action League and the Rochester Latinx Leaders Roundtable have joined forces to address Rochester’s Latinx community issues. 

The Rochester's Latinx agenda, a 53-page document, was created to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion for Latinos of various experiences. 

During a virtual discussion on the agenda, Sady Fischer, director of diversity, equity and inclusion for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, said when it comes to the conversations about diversity and inclusion, more should be done to include the Latinx community.

“When we're talking about things like structural racism, there is a direct connection to us to the Latinx community, and how these things impact our communities,” Fischer said. “There also needs to be an intentional focus on us. So part of what the Latinx agenda wants to do is one of our calls to action is for you to refocus that lens.”

Access to language was a major topic of discussion during the event.

Marlene Cortez, senior manager for Empire Justice Center’s language access program, explained how a lack of interpreters for people who don’t speak English fluently was a barrier for people to get access to important information during the early days of the pandemic.

“Many of these communities did not know that we were in a shutdown, (or that) they were going through a global pandemic,” Cortez said. “They had no idea because the information wasn't provided in the format they couldn't understand.”

She said Monroe County’s Language Access Bill, passed in 2021, was created as a response to the issues.

“In the past, there was never a language access plan in the County Clerk's Office,” said Cortez. “If someone went to the DMV, they were asked, ‘Oh, you need to come back with an interpreter?’ We got involved and said, ‘No, you need to provide an interpreter.’”

Cortez said that it's impossible to address diversity, equity and inclusion without language access.

April Franklin is an occasional local host of WXXI's Weekend Edition.