Dr. Ruth Brown, a lecturer from University of Kentucky, recently presented at University of the Cumberlands on behalf of Cumberlands’ Department of World Languages. Her lecture was titled “Cornbread and Tortillas: How Latinx Immigrants Are Making Kentucky Their Home.”
There is an ever-growing Latinx population in Kentucky, almost exclusively because of immigration and people expanding their families, according to Brown. The lecture focused predominantly on these Latinx communities making Kentucky their new home. The commonalities between Kentucky natives and Latinx immigrants were also discussed in detail.
“One thing I love about Kentucky is that it’s a crossroad of cultures,” said Brown. “We use influences from different immigrants and countries and make it into one culture. Immigration is a social process, but at the end of the day, it’s just people and their lives.”
Debunking common stereotypes and misconceptions about immigration was another topic covered throughout the lecture. Brown also discussed the cultures in both Appalachia and Latinx communities, noting the similarities between the two.
Some aspects of culture discussed were Latinx artists and musicians such as Marta Miranda, a Cuban poet who describes herself as “Cubalachian – Cuban by birth and Appalachian by the grace of God” and the band Appalatin, composed of Latinos from Ecuador, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
A point Brown made consistently was that Kentucky has become the true home for many Latinx immigrants. With such a large Cuban community in Louisville, there is now a popular Cuban newspaper. There is also a popular bilingual Lexington newspaper to accommodate both Spanish and English speakers.
“Dr. Brown’s engaging presentation highlighted the ways in which immigrant and local cultures share with and blend with each other, and showed the many contributions migrants and immigrants make economically, socially and culturally,” said Dr. Laura Dennis, Professor of French & Chair of World Languages at Cumberlands. “By emphasizing the common ingredients in corn bread and tortillas – essential foods in both Kentucky and Latinx cultures – Dr. Brown reminded us that much more connects us than divides us.”
Dr. Brown’s teaching emphasizes developing opportunities for students that allow them to engage with the local Latinx communities and culture. Brown’s educational background includes a PhD in Hispanic studies and both a bachelors and masters in Spanish. Brown has worked with the Lexington Hispanic community for seven+ years as a social services provider, health educator, interpreter/translator and community organizer.