Receptivity plays out at different scales and most places are characterized by mixed receptivity.

Race/ethnicity is not necessarily a predictor of receptive behavior.

Receptivity is, for the most part, experienced differently amongst Latinos and non-Latinos.

Documentation status is a recurring barrier to positive receptivity.

Individuals and institutions seek guidance in making places more receptive to Latinos.


Given the charged political climate around Latino immigration, understanding receptivity dynamics is critical for leaders in Southern cities experiencing growing Latino communities. Throughout 2016, 863 residents of Charlotte, North Carolina visited a museum exhibit and participated in a community dialogue program about Latinos in the “New South.” Drawing on survey data and participant observations collected from these individuals, this paper investigates what Latino and non-Latino participants’ comments tell us about individual and institutional receptivity landscapes. While Latinos and non-Latinos shared concerns about stereotyping and prejudice, receptivity is often experienced and understood differently amongst Latinos and non-Latinos. Still, immigration status and race/ethnicity are not necessarily predictors of receptive behavior. Receptivity plays out at different scales; people can perceive themselves as receptive and, at the same time, perceive institutions as unwelcoming or having mixed receptivity. Within this, documentation status is a recurring barrier to receptivity. Since receptivity is malleable, intentional initiatives and spaces created with Latinos can help Latinos feel more welcomed. Charlotte and the South can be more receptive by suggesting specific individual actions, ensuring our institutions reflect the populations they serve, and building Latino and non-Latino alliances. Our findings further the understanding of how to conceptualize, measure, and shape receptivity.


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pp. 146-174
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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