South Dakota is continuously becoming more diverse. Now, during Hispanic Heritage Month, KELOLAND News is looking at what it means to be Hispanic in South Dakota in 2018.
Around this table, you’ll find students, a real estate agent, and someone who works in banking. They each have a specialty, but they all have a common background.
“I think to be Hispanic in South Dakota means opportunity; there’s a lot of opportunity for growth for Hispanics in South Dakota currently,” real estate agent Nancy Reynoza of Sioux Falls said.
Reynoza has experienced that personally, selling homes in Sioux Falls.
“I would say similar, it’s an exciting opportunity for growth,” 33-year-old Yesenia Gonzalez of Sioux Falls said. “I come from a big city, so to me Sioux Falls is a small big city. So it’s small, but it’s like a city. So it’s a privilege to be able to contribute to the growth.”
Gonzalez does her part, working at a local non profit.
“For me I believe that we’re kind of in a crossroad, personally,” 32-year-old Florencio Aranda of Brookings said. “There might be opportunity for growth.”
Aranda, a South Dakota State University advisor, points to current events.
“Because of the political climate, I also feel that it puts a lot of these individuals at a standstill, or rather in a fearful situation where they are wanting to thrive and excel, but don’t really know what’s going to happen with them or their families in the days to come,” Aranda said.
“I believe being Hispanic in South Dakota comes with a lot of challenges,” Gabriela Revolorio of Vermillion said. “As Dr. Flo said, there are a lot of uncertain unknowns right now, and I am, I resonate with that, because, being a first-generation college student, that’s a lot of weight on myself.”
Revolorio is a criminal justice major at the University of South Dakota.
“Coming to South Dakota, at a young age, it was kind of a culture shock for me, because coming from West Palm Beach, Florida, it was very diverse,” Revolorio said. “A lot of Hispanic cultures were involved, and South Dakota at the time wasn’t that very diverse.”
19-year-old Isabella Gasca is the youngest person at the table. She studies social work at the University of South Dakota.
“I see, there’s both opportunity and challenges, I see both sides,” Gasca said. “Challenges are, I think it’s harder for, because South Dakota is such a red state, that a lot of people have their old views and their values, and they don’t, aren’t willing to change, and, won’t, or do not want to see other cultures besides their own, but I also think it brings opportunity.”
As Gasca looks to the future, Sioux Falls sales analyst Francisco Álvarez-Evangelista says it’s important to remember the past.
“I think one of the big things for me of being a Hispanic person in South Dakota is understanding my culture and understanding where I come from, understanding how my past and my background has influenced me the person today,” Álvarez-Evangelista said.
He calls Sioux Falls “a city of an opportunity.”
“I’ve learned from my background, and I’ve learned that we live in a difficult political environment today, but what I question, or what I bring back to myself every night, and every day I think about it is, how do I bridge the gap for others that are in my situation, how do I make things better,” Álvarez-Evangelista said.
A look toward the future was just one of the themes touched on during the round table discussion.
KELOLAND News will bring you more of the conversation Tuesday night in our Hispanic heritage Hidden History special at 6:30 p.m. central time on MyUTV. It will also re-air Sunday night after KELOLAND News at 10.