Thursday, December 8, 2016

With 'Bad Hombre Project,' St. Louisan Hopes to Show Another Side of Latino Men

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 6:37 AM

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When Donald Trump vowed in a presidential debate to crack down on "bad hombres," Roberto Garcia wasn't shocked. As a Mexican-born immigrant who now lives in St. Louis' Shaw neighborhood, he was following the race — and Trump's comments about his native country — closely.

Initially, he found the phrase funny enough to use it as a jumping off-point for a Halloween costume. His wife Dana wore a shirt inscribed "Nasty Woman"; Garcia declared himself a "Bad Hombre."

"It started as a joke, but everyone in the neighborhood just loved it," he says.

Then he started to think a bit more seriously about what it means to be a bad hombre. As the father of a two-year-old son, he found himself thinking about a time when the boy would be asked about their Spanish surname. "I could see them asking if his father was a bad person, a rapist and a criminal," he says. "I want him to be able to answer that."

From that thought, the Bad Hombre Project was born — Garcia's fledgling attempt to chronicle the lives of Latino men living in the U.S., to let them, in their own words, show the good guys behind the "bad hombre" label.

Each man chosen for the website describes himself in three words and then gives a longer interview, explaining a bit about his background, his thoughts on the U.S. and some family traditions. Profile subjects like Salvador, below, are identified only by their photo, first name and the state where they live, but their answers are surprisingly intimate.

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So far Garcia has found his featured men strictly by word of mouth, hitting up friends and friends of friends. And while there are only a handful of profile subjects to date, Garcia has big plans. A self-described "serial entrepreneur" who works in marketing, he wants to continue to add another guy every week — so that by the time his son is ready to read, he'll have a whole website worth of good hombres to choose from, proving wrong the stereotype with Latino after Latino devoted to family and country.

"It's one thing if he can point to me," Garcia says. "But if he can point to hundreds or thousands of people like me, well, then he will probably believe it."

Know someone who'd make a good profile subject? Email Garcia at thebadhombreproject@gmail.com.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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