Claiming Space

With Featured Guest

Erika Latines


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Claiming Space

With Featured Guest

Erika Latines


Blog divider

Top Takeaways From This Episode

  • True intelligence doesn’t come from books—It comes from how you allow life to educate you.
  • It takes a village to walk through this world.
  • Caring for others can help you care for yourself, too.
  • Empathy and compassion are the best assets we have. 
  • It’s okay to let yourself fall apart sometimes. 
  • Discomfort helps us grow.


Meet Erika With a “K”

Erika Latines is always uncomfortable. Born in the United States to Mexican parents, Erika grew up feeling chronically out of place. With light skin, light hair, and green eyes, Erika didn’t look like her family and she didn't look like an immigrant. But she didn’t feel white, either. As the daughter of immigrant parents, Erika took on responsibilities that white non-immigrants don’t need to shoulder. Erika acted as her parents’ translator and interpreter from the time she was old enough to talk. When people ask about Erika’s business experience, she jokes that she’s been an “administrator, interpreter, and ambassador” her whole life. 

Latino Diaspora

There's a keen sense of perpetual “un-belonging” for Erika that's endemic to those who are part of the Latin American diaspora. The term “Latino” is broad in scope and includes multiple racial and ethnic identities. There is no monolithic “Latino” culture, no singular or universal experience that all people who identify as Latino go through. But without identity markers for Erika to hang her hat on, she felt unmoored. 

From Bilingual to Bicultural  

After Erika graduated high school, she moved to Mexico. Suffice it to say, this was a much bigger shock to the system than she'd anticipated. Having always considered herself bilingual she thought that would be enough. It wasn't – – in Mexico, Erika realized that while she spoke the language, she wasn’t bicultural. Mexican culture felt foreign to her, and the learning curve was steep and unforgiving. Soon, though, she fell into business administration. Mexican businesses needed bilingual people like Erika to help them mediate their American relationships. The job was tough—She had to learn corporate jargon in two languages—But the work was rewarding. Her favorite part was talking to Mexican workers on the manufacturing floor. Most of them didn’t have a formal education, but Erika says they were still some of the smartest people she’s met. She hated to think that their employers saw them as assets rather than human beings.

Empathy and the Immigrant Experience

Erika experienced being an undocumented person (immigrant) while working in Canada. The experience was, quite honestly, terrifying. There was a constant fear that an immigration official would come for her as she walked to work every day. The fear that, in the blink of an eye, her life could be taken away from her. But Erika found a silver lining: For the first time, she felt with acuity what her parents felt in America. This knowledge emboldened her and she used it as a strength to help others.

Approach everything from the “immigrant perspective”

Immigrants are uniquely positioned to feel empathy. Erika, like immigrants, lives in a world where belonging isn’t a guarantee, which can lead to a sense of vulnerability. For Erika, those feelings guided her towards softer, more compassionate roles. She connects with people through her poetry, which she writes in both English and Spanish. Whenever she can, she volunteers as an interpreter and translator. In every Spanish-speaking woman struggling to check out at the grocery store, Erika says, she sees her mother, her aunt. “Every person is my person,” she says. “Every person is my family. Anyone who needs help, I’m there.”

Connect with Erika

Erika Latines is a self-described queer, Latina, immigrant. She invites you to connect on Instagram where she highlights stories about living, traveling, and growing up in places around the world. You might catch her off the cuff poetry, beautiful artwork, or just the refreshing breeze of a person whose only objective in life is to leave a legacy of love.

Giving is Good

Erika supports Youth Empowerment Performance Project (YEPP). YEPP is based in Chicago, where they strive to create a “brave environment” for LGBTQI+ youth experiencing homelessness. They offer performance-based community programs to allow them to address their struggles and celebrate their strengths. Donate here, and be sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

"I'm all about elevating other peoples' voices, because mine was always silenced. I found my voice by helping others find theirs."

- Erika Latines

Meet your Host, <em style="color:teal">Heather Vickery<em>

Meet your Host, Heather Vickery

Heather Vickery is an award-winning business owner and global leader with over 20 years as an entrepreneur. She leverages her entrepreneurial skills and expertise to coach individuals towards greater personal and professional fulfillment by helping them leverage their fear into intentional bravery. Heather says “When we choose bravely, on purpose, we choose bigger, have bigger successes and it’s contagious” A celebrated public speaker, Heather inspires audiences and empowers attendees with the tools they need to live bold and successful lives through creating balance, time management, mindfulness, as well as countless systems, strategies, and boundaries. She’s the author of Gratitude Journal: Shift Your Focus and Grow Grateful: A Gratitude Journal for Kids and Families. Heather is also the host and executive producer of The Brave Files Podcast.

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