Latinitas Magazine Writing Contest for Latina Teens & College Students
Austin, Texas – To gather “voces auténticas” (authentic voices) from all over the United States, Latinitas Magazine is launching a National Writing Contest through June 30, 2008 seeking feedback from Latina youth ages 14 to 24 on “What it is to be Latina.” Top contest winners will be awarded with Dell DJ Mp3 players and with publication in the nationally-acclaimed LatinitasMagazine.org.
Latinitas Magazine launched five years ago as the first digital magazine for U.S. Latina youth as a vehicle to counter the lack of positive media portrayals of Latina youth. Media tends to either neglect or misrepresent Latina identity, crystallizing her monolithically in over-sexualized images or excessive portrayals of servitude. ABC’s “Ugly Betty” aside, much of mainstream media depicts Latinas as uneducated gangster “cholas” or maids. According to media watchdog Children Now, negative media portrayals of youth have been associated with damaging consequences on body image and self-esteem among children and teens particularly among girls who often find themselves marginalized from media.
“Latinas come from the barrios and the burbs. We are hoping to hear from Hispanic young women who represent the multiple facets of what it means to be a young Latina in this country,” explains Alicia Rascon, Latinitas co-founder. “I was born in Mexico , but you have other Latinas in the United States who may have never seen their family’s country of origin – yet they practice the culture and traditions of that place. Latinitas are a diverse group and we want to hear their voices. Those are the stories we are excited to read.”
There is an urgency regarding Latina youth in the United States . They suffer the highest rate of teen suicide, pregnancy and school dropout amongst their White, African-American, Asian, Native-American and Pacific Islander peers. The U.S. Census reports that by 2025, one in every five teens will be Latino. Clearly, what goes on among Latina teens not only affects the Latino community, but also has an extraordinary impact on the nation, as a whole.
Founders Alicia Rascon, of El Paso, Texas and Laura Donnelly, of New York City , started Latinitas as a non-profit bilingual magazine with girl empowerment outreach programs as a project assignment in a class at the University of Texas at Austin in 2002, with one writer, one translator and no web skills. Reaching over 30,000 readers per month, Latinitas continues to grow and initiates multiple prompts for girls to submit writing, poetry and art throughout year. Sections like “Real Life” and “Mi Barrio,” encourage girls to share stories that reflect Latina life all over the country, while others such as “Latinitas Superstar” and “Role Model” spotlight real girls and women achieving success on their own terms.
Latinitas features two online magazines geared toward Hispanic girls ages 11 to 14 and Latina teens 15 and older. Latinitas also supports outreach programming throughout Texas that further cultivates Latina youths’ desire to write, publish on the web, produce radio and create their own television programs, while teaching them to use the digital technology to do so. Throughout these outreach projects, young Latinas are connected with role models and mentors who guide them in building their confidence and self-esteem. As Latinas prove to be the fastest growing population, Latinitas will continue to provide inspiring content that reflects the needs, hopes and cultural experiences of this demographic.
Contest Criteria: Contestants should be females of Hispanic descent between the ages of 14 and 24 residing in the United Sates of America or in a U.S. territory. Submissions are accepted in two age categories. Entries by high school girls should be at least 750-1,000 words in first person or Associated Press style on the following subjects: What is it like to be a Hispanic/Latina female in your hometown? What does it mean to be a Hispanic/Latina female to you? As a Hispanic/Latina female are you doing something in your community to make a difference, if so what? The contest is also open to Latina college students enrolled in an accredited institution of post secondary education. Entries by college students should be at least 800-1,200 words in length and written in journalistic Associated Press style on one of the following topics: an investigative piece on an issue facing the young Latinas, a profile of an extraordinary Hispanic girl, or a feature story on a new trend in the Latino community. All submissions must be of interest to and written for a Latina teen audience. All entries must be submitted by June 30, 2008. Latinitas accepts submissions via email to email@example.com and by mail to PO Box 4284 , Austin, TX 78765.