Latinx creators Dulce Candy, Walter Thompson-Hernández, Alexsey Reyes and Johanna Toruño receive Instagram's #YoSoy #IAM Award and discuss what identity means to them.

Por Lena Hansen
Octubre 02, 2019
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Latinx creators Dulce Candy, Walter Thompson-Hernández, Alexsey Reyes and Johanna Toruño were honored with Instagram's #YoSoy (#IAM) award Monday night at the Hispanic Heritage Awards, held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The trophy celebrates their inspirational contribution within the community through Instagram, where they share their unique voices and encourage others to do the same.

They each discussed Latinx identity in a video created by Instagram. For Alexsey Reyes, an 18-year-old Latino photographer, identity means “being able to be yourself around your community and your people, knowing where I come from and my background is really what lets me open up and connect with people.”

“I am a very, very proud Mexican American woman. Identity to me means having a thorough and deep understanding of who I am as a person. Also having a deep understanding of who my ancestors are,” said Dulce Candy Ruiz, a content creator, wife, mom and former member of the U.S. armed forces who has been sharing her story since 2008 through videos, photos and blogs focusing on self-love, beauty and petite fashion.

Johanna Toruño is a New York–based Salvadoran artist and founder of the Unapologetic Street Series, created to highlight and utilize public space for people of color in the arts. “To me it looks almost new every day because I'm still trying to navigate what it looks like to be me,” she admits about her identity. “The work that I do, political work that takes up space in the street, that's what I'm the most proud of. My Salvadoran culture is why I do the work that I do. Don't underestimate us.”

Walter Thompson-Hernández is a New York Times reporter and host. “I grew up kind of not knowing who I was,” he recalls in the clip. “I was always asking myself questions like, ‘Am I black, am I brown?' I kind of arrived to this moment where I realized that I could both be black and brown at the same time.” He is grateful he has found his purpose in journalism. “The fact that I'm able to be in the newsroom and tell stories that haven't been told, to me is both an incredible privilege and a really incredible responsibility,” he says.

These young content creators are helping to break stereotypes about Latinx identity. “The Latinx community is extremely diverse, and when it comes to our identities, we are even more complex,” said Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. “We also don't want to be defined by others, which has happened in a negative and dangerous way. It's critical we provide our community with platforms to be able to define ourselves, our culture, our values, but also better understand each other. Through the #YoSoy identity effort with Instagram, we can more powerfully come together and move forward together.”

Part of this initiative is also encouraging others to share their own identity by doing so using the hashtag, #YoSoy (#IAM) and filling in the blank on what identity means to them, using the formulation #YoSoy ____. Join the conversation on Instagram!