By Caitlin Shannon, Student Life and Arts Editor
The United States as we know them today would be completely different if it were not for the contributions of Latinx throughout our history. Without Latinx we wouldn’t have the ballpoint pen, the birth control pill or color television. We are currently in the middle of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a celebration started by President Johnson in 1968 and expanded by President Reagan in 1988 to acknowledge the history and contributions of Americans with Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean, Central or South American heritage. From September 15 to October 15 organizations, universities and important institutions, Drew included, will be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.
It seems an especially poignant time to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month given our country’s political climate and current events. With the announced phasing out of DACA and the natural disasters that have recently antagonized primarily Latinx countries/regions, it seems no better time to consider and reflect upon the contributions of Latinxs to America.
This month gives us a space and time to not only appreciate Hispanic American culture but also to start and further conversations around what it means to be Latinx in the United States. “Hispanic Heritage Month both acknowledges and celebrates the breadth of Latinx experiences as vital components of the U.S. landscape and of ‘American’ identity,” Associate Professor of Spanish Raul Rosales said, remarking the importance of this month. “It recognizes the diversity of Latinx contributions across multiple arenas of U.S. life.”
ARIEL, Drew’s Latinx Student Organization, is making sure that these conversations are being had and that this month is filled with meaningful and fun events for the Drew community.
This past Thursday the group held their first Cafe Con Leche, a recurring event that creates a space for students to talk about Latinx issues on campus, with the theme of being a Latinx in College. The event allowed a place for students to discuss the effects of DACA and what it’s like to be a Latinx in college. Aurie Flores, ARIEL’s publicist, commented on the event saying “[the event] got personal and gave everyone a space to reflect on their own experiences and share how the Drew community and ARIEL could be of more support of the Latinx community here.”
Although Drew has always celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month in some regard, the intentionality and variety of the programming has increased in recent years. Especially seeing that 20% of the class of 2021 is Latinx, it is important to make sure that events recognizing this population grow as well. “[These events] are, in essence, a recognition and celebration of the Hispanic heritage of a large portion of its student body while simultaneously being a recognition and celebration of the diverse community that is Drew,” says Rosales, commending the increased attention around Hispanic Heritage Month.
The Office of Student Engagement has incorporated Hispanic Heritage Month into their theme month programming, an intentional step in celebrating Drew’s Latinx and Hispanic populations while enriching the rest of the Drew community.
So how can you join in on the celebration? On campus you can attend Javier Avila’s One Man Show “The Trouble with My Name” hosted by UPB on October 17th. You can go to the Hispanic Dinner at Commons or the Loteria themed Bingo in the weeks to come. Looking for something more? Attend the Hispanic Day Parade in New York City on October 8th.
Although it’s great to celebrate Latinxs for a month each year, is there more that we could be doing? Is 3-4 events really enough? Are there ways that we can make these events better? Manny Lopez (’19) seemed to think so. Regarding the subject he said, “We can make Hispanic Heritage Month better by getting involved. The events being put on are very informational, personal and a great way to learn more about those here at Drew that identify with the Latinx community.”
Drew has increased its celebration around Hispanic Heritage Month so make sure you go out and give some extra support to the Latinx community with this month’s themed events. ¡Pa’lante, mi gente!