We Are El Sur Latino

By Sara Camp Milam

In 2017, SFA explored El Sur Latino. At our Fall Symposium, founding SFA member Lolis Eric Elie took stock of divisions in our region and our country and traced their historical, social, and psychological roots. (I should mention, he accomplished this in a probing, challenging, charming thirty minutes. Head to our website and watch the video if you don’t believe me.) He asked, in conclusion, “why don’t we plan on a destiny that’s big enough for every one of us—all and each?”

Destiny is a hefty concept. How did a conversation about food get us here? The truth, of course, is that our work both is and isn’t about food. We share transformative narratives, lead complex conversations, and, through those narratives and those conversations, work toward a more equitable and inclusive future for everyone in our region. And it’s been that way for almost twenty years now. Since our team was smaller, younger, greener, and no less dedicated to our mission. Since I was in high school.

This year, we focused our gaze on Latino Southerners—their contributions, their struggles, and perhaps most importantly, their quotidian presence as a growing and vibrant part of the fabric of our region and our nation. The features in this issue of Gravy are adapted from Fall Symposium presentations. These stories are not exotic. They are everyday, and that’s a beautiful thing. In his Symposium talk, Elie challenged the audience, “Why don’t we reexamine what we mean by ‘us’ and ‘we,’ and see if we might be able to spell larger words with the same letters?” As you read this issue, we encourage you to do the same. —Sara Camp Milam