Hispanic Heritage Month: Honoring ABC 7 Chicago News Anchor Stacey Baca

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsSteadfast in her resolve to highlight the achievements and contributions of the Latino community across Chicago, award-winning ABC 7 News Anchor and host of The ñ Beat Stacey Baca serves as a torchbearer of positivity, resiliency, and compassion to so many across the city. Hailing from Colorado, Baca’s career spans decades of reporting on a wide range of stories: education, politics, military news, and immigration, among others from Virginia to California. Although this particular year brought on an array of challenges for several newsrooms across Chicagoland, Baca’s determination for empowering the Latino community through pertinent information never wavered. We sat down with Baca to discuss her love for journalism, her personal struggle during the Covid pandemic, and The ñ Beat.

Lawndale Bilingual Newspaper: The Latino community is so nuanced. It’s diverse, it’s vibrant, it’s multicultural, it’s dynamic. Do you ever feel the weight of the community on your shoulders?

Stacey Baca: I am so much a part of this community that I don’t even think about it in some ways. It is me and I’m it. I feel at home with the people around me. It’s how I was raised and that’s how I grow up. It’s my family and it’s the cultural values we all share. When I think about being a representative of the community, I just think about being me and I just try to be the best Stacey Baca I could be. It’s such a diverse world and in every single culture, no matter what part; maybe it’s South America, maybe it’s Central America, maybe it’s Mexico, maybe your roots are just last generation, or maybe five generations ago, you just take that influence of your life and do what’s absolutely best for it. I think about my own grandparents and how hard they worked on the fields, and how my grandfather worked on the railroads, and just the amount of work they had to do. I feel blessed to be in the situation where I am, and I feel extremely proud to call myself Latina because that’s who I am.

Lawndale Bilingual Newspaper: We all know COVID-19 impacted newsrooms across the country and posed many challenges. How were you able to deliver news that remained truthful and helpful to the Latino community?

Stacey Baca: I think about The ñ Beat and what the show coming up is doing. It’s highlighting the best of the best in our community and those are essential workers. Those are people who are, maybe more disenfranchised, and that’s what I love about this because we are the workers. We are out there doing the work. I have such tremendous respect for the Latino community because everyone knows that sometimes it’s not just one job, it’s two jobs, or three jobs, everyone in your household is working. Sometimes your abuelita is living with you, it’s multigenerational and I think our stories are sometimes different. For example, with the COVID impact, there are multi-generations living in the same house. If one becomes sick, all of us become sick, it’s a challenge. So what I’m trying to say is that it’s important to understand that the Latino community are essential workers, they are multigenerational, we are all in households where things are happening. We need to realize in this time, there are challenges to COVID-19, the mortality rates, the case rates that Latinos have gone through during this time. It’s really about being true to what those stories are and I think with the episodes coming up on The ñ Beat we do just that.

Lawndale Bilingual Newspaper: As we are in the midst of celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, what does this time signify to you, especially during this year of challenges?

Stacey Baca: I think because of 2020, I think because there is a spotlight on what we do as a community, this is a special moment in time. It’s a challenging moment, it’s incredibly difficult. Yet, in these circumstances, how many people get up, go to work, and do those essential jobs from the Latino community? How many people get up and tackle what they need to do, making sure their kids are taken care of, making sure they are getting online for classes, and still doing the work that needs to be done? It’s the resiliency part that I look at and I think to myself, they’re resilient. We are very strong. We are resilient.

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