Let's get United behind culture, pride - Albuquerque Journal

Let’s get United behind culture, pride

My name is Cindy Nava. I’m a Dreamer, a longtime organizer and advocate, a small-business owner and a new U.S. citizen as of Feb. 22.

As we have all seen, there’s been a lot of rhetoric and distinctive standpoints being shared regarding the upcoming Albuquerque bond issue to support the creation of a multipurpose soccer stadium. However, as an immigrant, a New Mexican and a consultant for this initiative, I believe it is important to listen to our communities and to acknowledge the different lenses we see this through.

My lived experiences have shaped my work and the lens I see life through. I came to New Mexico when I was 7 years old from Chihuahua, Mexico. Growing up as an undocumented immigrant was by no means an easy task; however, I always felt lucky to live in a state like New Mexico, which allowed me to break many barriers as a first-generation high school and college graduate.

We are all shaped by our upbringing, and I am no different. My progressive values run deep, born out of living the injustice rooted so deeply in U.S. immigration policies. As someone who has advocated for issues that affect our communities each and every day, I speak from a place of lived experience that has led with advocacy for more just action on immigration, as well as a host of other issues.

I believe the stadium bond deserves our support on Nov. 2. New Mexico United does things differently, and the stadium bond follows the same path.

Last year, I talked with United about hosting a citizenship event at a match to bring attention to the groundbreaking work and contributions that immigrants make each and every day across our state. This month, that idea became a reality and I had the pleasure of participating in that ceremony, welcoming 50 new Americans on the field during a United game. This, on the heels of other games where New Mexico United celebrated and promoted Black Lives Matter and Pride.

I believe we are among the first bonds in the country that has mandated a Community Benefits Agreement, pushed forward by the Barelas neighborhood, that would be negotiated by whichever neighborhood houses the stadium. Simply put, the stadium will not be built in a neighborhood that doesn’t want it. The team has also pledged to source all food and beverage concessions from local vendors and will offer a living wage as a floor for the 280 jobs at the new stadium.

As someone surrounded by Latinx soccer diehards, and one who has seen the deep impact of United playing a foundational role in bringing together our diverse and multicultural communities under the premise of “Somos Unidos,” there’s an intangible quality, too: the stadium will bring extensive opportunities for creative and culturally competent engagement with communities that are not always brought to the table, communities such as the ones I grew up in and understand deeply. Additionally, this will help extend our pride and collective power as the diverse and unique state we are. It will create an affordable family activity where we can gather, have fun, celebrate birthdays and graduations, and take pride in our own home team playing the beautiful game.

I encourage my Albuquerque gente to study this issue more closely. As we know, we need a lot of things to move our city forward and quality of life is a big one. The fútbol stadium is part of the solution, along with the $140 million in bonds for public safety, homelessness, affordable housing and more, as well as the school bond and continuation of the public school mill levy. We have to do both, and not pit one solution against another.

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