Interpreters perform radical acts of listening, thinking and speaking, suggesting a model
of organizing that entails making space for others to act. Not to be the person in the room who is leading. To work purposefully toward making it possible for others in the room to communicate and to lead.”

”Lxs intérpretes desempeñamos actos radicales de escuchar, pensar y hablar, formulando
un modelo de organización política que implica hacer espacio para que otras personas
actúen. No ser nosotrxs la persona en la sala que toca el papel de líder. Trabajar
resueltamente para posibilitar que otras personas en la sala comuniquen y sean líderes.
— Antena, a Language Justice Collaborative

Interpreting, like oral history is a specialized kind of listening, through which we allow the voices of others to be heard, by those unable to hear them otherwise, and in the best of cases begin a dialogue otherwise hindered by language difference. As an interpreter, I inhabit a variety of spaces. I am a Certified Medical Interpreter (CMI-Spanish), and also interpret in community settings, often for organizations that I am part of. I am a member of Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería comunitaria’s translation team, and have been assisting the collective in efforts to increase our bilingual capacity.

I am inspired by the work of Antena, a Language Justice Collaborative based in Los Angeles, as well as the language justice work done in the South by the Highlander Research and Education Center, the Center for Participatory Change and the former Wayside Popular Education Center, where I first learned the concept of language justice, a practice integral to any kind of racial or social justice work. 

Language justice includes making space in our city, in our schools, hospitals and movements for all to sit at the table and participate, in the language in which people choose to express themselves and combats the hierarchy of languages that places English-speakers at the top. In the words of Antena, through the promotion of language justice "we unsettle the systems that would privilege one language as dominant and marginalize others, and rather prioritize communication among all participants across a range of languages."

My training and experience as an interpreter, combined with my training and experience as an oral history interviewer, has led me to begin a new project documenting the stories of language workers in order to shed light on the important ways that multilingual spaces can transform communities and movements. I am always eager to connect with people doing language justice work—let's talk!

Reading List: 

The Revolution Will Not Be In English
A Manifesto for Intepretation as Instigation  / Un manifiesto para la interpretación como instigación
How to Build Language Justice / Cómo construir la justicia del lenguaje
Interpretation and Translation: Power Tools for Sharing Power in Grassroots Leadership Development