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Dispatches from Columbus’ Latino Community

In collaboration with Ohio State University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Columbus Neighborhoods supports the multimedia webseries ¡Dímelo, Columbus!

For the past decade, Franklin County’s Latino population has been one of the fastest growing in the state. The Census Bureau documents this expanding community with a blanket term “Hispanic,” but this word accounts for a myriad of identities such as – but not confined to – Chicano, Colombian, Cuban, Mexican, Mexican-American and Puerto Rican.

¡Dímelo, Columbus! asks members of Columbus’ Latino community how their unique experiences and identities shape the city of Columbus. Here, we highlight a few individuals and their insights on the local community.

Credit: Tiera D. Photo


Jasmine Rosario
Songwriter and guitarist, Original Soundtrack

“(Moving to Columbus and) being the new kid, it was weird … it was a lot harder to fit in. But eventually I ended up taking part in things I was interested in like drama and theater and meeting people that I could make connections with. … Once I was able to make friends, I fell in love with Columbus.”

Listen to the full interview.


Genesis Cruz-Santos
Panaderia Oaxaqueña (bakery)

“There are a lot of people from Oaxaca on the West Side. … The bakery was a staple for the community for Oaxaqueños; they can find this piece of home here in Columbus. … On Sunday mornings, you have a lot of people lined up here to buy breads … and it’s like a meeting point. … We have a saint back there because he is the saint of our village. Every village in Oaxaca, the name of the village is the name of the saint. We are from San Bernardo, and that’s the saint San Bernardo. It’s a staple for the community here in Columbus and back at home.”

Listen to the full interview.


Rocío Prado
Graduate student in English, Ohio State University

“I’ve been learning, too, that there are entire parts of Columbus that are completely made up of migrant populations. I was like, ‘What?!’, because no one at home (in Orange County) thinks that. No one at home thinks that there are Mexicans here, or a lot of black people here, or black migrants at all. It’s so surprising to see not only that they’re here, but how long they’ve been here and how long they’ve been resisting oppression with so much less than what we have on the West Coast. It’s so hardcore – their organizing is so hardcore. … They do awesome stuff all the time and nobody finds out about it at home.”

Listen to the full interview.


Kevin Bilapka Arbelaez
Hispanic/Latino community psychiatric support treatment (CPST) worker, St. Vincent Family Center; guitarist, Didi

“I have kids I work with who are either under constant threat of being picked up by Immigration (Services) or have had family members deported in the time that I’m working with them, and that derails their entire lives. … There’s just so many things that not many other communities in this city have to deal with.”

Listen to the full interview.


Nora Hesse
Program assistant, OSU Extension/Franklin County’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education program

“(These are) valuable people who are human beings. They are not a number. They came for different reasons here, but they are honest and hardworking Latinos. … When I see sometimes the hardship that some people go through when they come, oh my gosh, they are amazing … a very good example to people like me who have an easy way to come, with language, with legal status.”

Listen to the full interview.


Ricardo Granados
Naturalist, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks

“Being able to provide an opportunity for people in a language and environment they feel comfortable with … giving (Latinos) an opportunity to engage is what Metro Parks has been doing for the last three and a half years. … The message I have for the Latino population is that this space is for you, so come enjoy it. … This is all here for you … and 99.9 percent of the time, it’s going to be free.”

Listen to the full interview.

Leticia Wiggins

Related Video

New Americans Episode Preview

Next time on Columbus Neighborhoods, we’ll take a look at how different cultures have influenced Central Ohio. Discover the history of Italian immigrants, meet the owner of an Indian restaurant, learn how to respectfully converse with and engage Muslim-Americans, meet a self-taught Latino Web reporter and explore ethnic cuisines in Columbus. Watch at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 27.