📬 Want some Southern goodness in your inbox every Friday?
Get Scalawag's latest stories and a run down of what's happening across the South with our weekly newsletter.
"This is episode ochenta y tres, because we're bilingual up in this B."
You can't help but smile when 28-year-old Eva Arreguin jumps on the mic and welcomes you to De Colores Radio. In just a few words, Arreguin opens the door to a warm, colorful space where cumbia music mixes with hip-hop in the background. Laughter and sarcasm are plentiful on the Dallas-based podcast that host Eva Arreguin founded in 2017 with Rafael Tamayo, and her sibling, Pat Arreguin.
Launched in a "very post-Trump getting elected" era, as Arreguin puts it, the show quickly became a success in Texas, winning the distinction of Best Podcast of 2019 by The Dallas Observer. Across the South, the show made waves as a leader among independent Latinx-lead podcasts.
"We needed a space for Latinos, Black folk, Native folk, Asian people—anybody—to exist and not just be traumatized groups that get exploited," Arreguin explained.
When the pandemic hit, the founders paused the podcast to deal with job furloughs, mental health, and advocacy work in the wake of George Floyd's murder. But in early summer of 2021, Arreguin and Pat relaunched the show (sans Tamayo) with renewed vision: "With De Colores, I want to have honest, radical conversations, but also create joy and have fun and love in here too—because it's necessary."
Of colors, voices, and cultures
The name 'De Colores' comes from the song of the same name by singer and activist Joan Baez. Translated in English to "of colors," the name is representative of the intersectional and inclusive BIPOC platform the founders hoped to create.
The show's topics range from art to anti-Blackness, music, voting, queer identities, and more. Often, Arreguin breaks down these issues for her listeners in ways that relate to their own lives. In an effort to show how systemic oppressive ideologies are, she explores Latinidad's alignment with whiteness, colorism, and transphobia in Black and brown communities. In episode 81, she put it this way: "There's anti-Blackness in all of Latin America, but there's an inability to name that. […] There's that common thread of allegiance to white supremacy, whether you're light complected or a little more brown; it's still built into the structure."
Arreguin faces these tough topics head-on, so that listeners can do the same.
And she isn't afraid to point out oppression, whether it's located within the culture or without. She didn't mince words when pinpointing the atrocious actions of Governor Greg Abbott, calling him the "devil himself," or calling out the failures of Dallas mayor Eric Johnson. She has consistently called for defunding the police and criticized the Texas abortion ban. And she usually does it with jokes, laughter, humor, and mega-sarcasm.
In Episode 80, Arreguin discussed the Texas governor's reaction to Texas Democrats who went to Capitol Hill in an attempt to thwart and protest Texas Republicans trying to pass voting restriction in late summer of 2021:
"Besides other independent Latinx podcasts, I don't know of other spaces that are having these transformative conversations. We're saying what would rather be left unsaid and we're evolving with the way society needs to evolve. We're comfortable with pushing boundaries to be the best, healthiest, most welcoming, and equitable society that it's never actually been," Arreguin explained.
Each episode, Arreguin guides listeners through various segments like "Meme Mood," where she and producer Pat describe popular memes that reflect their current mood as a means of encouraging listeners to check in on their mental health and emotions. It's followed by "El Juguito" or "The Juice," which is a discussion about news, pop culture, politics, and social issues between Arreguin and a guest host. Then, Arreguin interviews a special guest about the work they do and the unique perspectives they hold. The show usually ends with "Self-Care Corner," where Arreguin suggests ways for listeners to show love to themselves, like taking a road trip with friends through the South. Pat ends the show with a brown and Black business, book, or music recommendation for listeners to support.
Since June 2021, De Colores Radio has interviewed such culturemakers as Gata from Reggaeton Con la Gata, "the first femme brand dedicated to the intersectional analysis and herstory of reggaeton;" bilingual Latinx band, Luna Luna; Meg Thee Stallion's lead photographer, Emilio Coochie; and Houston-based Black and Mexican poet, Arianna Brown.
In her conversation with Coochie, they discuss their love of Texas rappers like Paul Wall, Mike Jones, Lil Keke, and DJ RPM, before talking about how Coochie came out in high school.
"I didn't come out until my senior year of high school," Coochie said. "I was 17 about to turn 18. For the first three years of high school, I was in a relationship with a girl."
"Oooh, we love a plot twist," Arreguin replied before chuckling. "You were singing 'Hit that hoe' with her?"—a reference to Treal Lee and Prince Rick's "Mr. Hit That."
Coochie Emilio laughed. "Very loud."
Even among the jokes, Arreguin always finds a way to balance the discussion with sincerity and respect. Later in the episode, Arreguin tells Coochie: "When I saw Megan Thee Stallion start tagging you, I was like, 'Oh, let me find out there's a bad ass Latino killing it behind the scenes!' I immediately had to stan you because you hold such a powerful position."
For Arreguin, De Colores' guest list is reflective of her and her sibling's intersectional identities and the diversity found in Texas and the South.
"I want De Colores to be rooted in everything we represent, as a non-binary queer person (Pat) and a loud, fat brown person. We are everything society doesn't want us to be, all the things that you are not supposed to be," Arreguin explained. "Everything we've done, created, and speak to is who we are and what we believe in."
True to her roots
Arreguin's interest in the social movements and the political issues addressed in the show started at a young age. Growing up, Arreguin's parents instilled pride for their Mexican heritage into their daughter, and it contributed to her path to activism.
"I had this comprehension of politics right away," said Arreguin. "My mom took us to watch Fahrenheit 911 when I was nine. Now she's like, 'You might be too radical,' [and] I'm like, "Mom, you literally made me this way.'"
She remembers one protest vividly, when on April 9, 2006, 400,000-500,000 people marched from the Cathedral Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Dallas' City Hall to protest Congress' proposed immigration restrictions and to support legalizing undocumented Americans. "It's considered the largest immigration march in history, and it was here in Dallas," she said.
The march inspired Arreguin to join protests in college and engage in advocacy work as an adult. In 2020, while the show was on hiatus, she and Pat helped organize Black Lives Matter protests and a Defund Dallas Police Department campaign. Arreguin has also played a huge role in helping the family of Santos Rodriguez, a 12-year-old Mexican American child who was murdered by Dallas police in 1973. Arreguin started a GoFundMe that allows for continuous donations to go directly to the family.
Through the podcast and her advocacy, Arreguin has the same goal: to upend white supremacy.
"White supremacist capitalism requires either you're surviving and dying, or you are exploiting others and thriving. I don't want to do either. I want to find balance. I want us to be able to exist and hold people, institutions, and major corporations accountable for all the harm they've done to this planet," she said.
De Colores: More Joy
Arreguin knows that surviving the triple-pandemic of COVID-19, transphobia, and anti-Blackness can be exhausting to our collective mental health.
"I want to be more intentional with creating a space of joy and humor this time around. Prior [to the break], we were getting a lot of brilliant people, but it was a lot of pain and trauma," Arreguin explained.
Past guest of the show, Amber Sims, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Young Leaders, Strong City, a youth-focused non-profit organization that educates youth about racial justice and equity, said she believes this is a smart move by De Colores. "Movements aren't dependent only on our despondency, but more importantly, [on] our hopes and dreams, everything we can bring," she said.
Some of the comedy comes from commentating on pop culture news like Beyonce and Jay-Z's blood diamond commercial and white celebrities—like Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, and Jake Gyllennhaal—not taking showers during the pandemic.
"Y'all get paid and get to laugh about it, and probably go on Ellen and she'll probably give y'all a scrub-a-dub," Arreguin says. "White people get away with everything."
Most of the dry wit and sarcastic humor arises from Arreguin's interactions with her guests. The almost-instant camaraderie she has with featured changemakers makes it feel like you're listening to friends making personal jokes, sharing chisme or spilling the tea, ragging on the ridiculousness of Southern politics—"If anyone is connected to the Bush era, you are a demon"—and pop culture news over a meal.
De Colores Radio is no longer limited to just a podcast. Both founders quit their full-time jobs in 2021 to freelance, which has allowed them to expand the brand to include music management (their first client is Dallas-based rapper, Pretty Boy Aaron). The siblings also created a Patreon model with memberships between $3-$10 per month to unlock exclusive content and support their independent platform.
Even more exciting is De Colores' new YouTube series called, "Southside Wassup?" where Arreguin interviews people from the South who are doing notable things.
"You have more value if you're from the coasts, but the South 'has had something to say.' We are so much more important than we get credit for, and I want people to know that the brilliance is here," she said.
Arreguin has dreams of forming a media company and a physical community space, too.
"I want it to become a creative hub and multimedia platform for artists, activists, and mostly people of color to shine and create whatever they want."
But for now, she will continue being the kind of host who balances humor and joy with important information on tough topics.
For many fans, De Colores is more than just entertainment.
"As a listener, [De Colores] reminds me that I'm not alone. There are other like-minded individuals who are concerned about the community and want us to connect more, to be aware of the social injustices happening around us globally, nationally, and especially locally," said Azarel González, a first-generation Mexican-American listener.
"I think more people should listen to De Colores radio because we need it. We need to support Eva, Pat and people like them that are leaders in our community using their voice and their talents to bring us together to talk about important subjects, and who also remind us to find joy, even in times when it's difficult to find," González said. "Now more than ever, we need this."
Victoria Ferrell-Ortiz, a listener since 2017, said she appreciates that the show challenges listeners in a way that is digestible and safe: "We have all been coded and indoctrinated in a society that is driven by capitalism and white supremacy. Throughout listening to the podcast, Eva challenged me to confront my own fears and healing in a way that I would not have approached otherwise."
Arreguin would agree, saying "We're a collective and community driven, and it's for you to realize you deserve the mic too, for you to recognize you can do what we're doing and more as well."