ENLACE kicks off Latin@ Heritage Month

Audience members look on during a Wednesday lecture in Sci 199 that kicked off Latin@ Heritage Month.
Sadie Rittman/The Phoenix
The Latin@ student organization ENLACE is hosting a variety of events this month in celebration of Latin@ heritage and commemoration of its rich history in the United States.

Latin@ Heritage Month hit the ground running with a lecture on Wednesday in the Science Center by Professor Frances Aparicio entitled “Embodying Latinidad: Intralatino/a Subjects in Chicago.” Professor of both Spanish and Portuguese and the director of the Latino/a Studies Program at Northwestern University, she discussed issues surrounding Latino/as with multiple Latin American identities in the U.S. She focused particularly on how one identity usually becomes more dominant than the other, as well as this Latin American group’s need for documentation and acknowledgement within the field of Latino Studies.

In calling this month Latino Heritage Month, ENLACE registers its dissent from the U.S. Federal Government, which uses Hispanic Heritage Month. “Enlace calls it Latino Heritage Month because not all people identify as Hispanic,” said group member Dilcia Mercedes ’15. “Latino Heritage Month tries to represent the diversity within the Latino community.”

The US Federal Government explains on its website that National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated September 15 through October 15, “provides an opportunity to focus national attention upon the contributions of the Hispanic community to American society.”  Additionally, it seeks to honor five of our Central American neighbors who declared independence on September 15, 1821, as well as Mexico, Chile, and Belize, who also celebrate their independence in September. The celebration was first enacted into law in 1988 by President Lyndon B. Johnson as “Hispanic Heritage Week” and was gradually expanded into a 30-day period by President Ronald Reagan.

ENLACE’s firsthand experience with the diversity of the Latino community is reflected in the variety of events they have planned.  “We take the input of our club members and try to include a little piece of everyone’s culture in the mix by planning events with themes and stories they can relate to, by bringing speakers that represent them and their communities,” said Mercedes.

The next event will be “Mosquita y Mari”, which will take place in the LPAC Cinema on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:00pm and 10:00pm. The film follows the coming-of-age of two queer Chicana high school girls and the way their relationship unfolds over time. The director, Aurora Guerrero, has also agreed to have dinner with a group of Swarthmore students on Friday from 5:00 to 6:30pm in the Big IC Room to discuss both activism and film-making in the context of the Latino community. Based in Los Angeles, Ms. Guerrero describes herself as an activist first and a director second. Though students hoping to attend had to RSVP by Tuesday, Guerrero will also be available for questions during a talkback session following the 7pm screening of the film on Friday.

Students can also look forward to the upcoming Fiesta del Barrio, a Latino block party, which will feature performances by salsa dancers, the Mariachi band, and spoken word artists.

ENLACE aims to make Latino Heritage Month’s a welcoming and engaging experience even for those who do not identify as Latin@.  Its stated mission is to educate the public about the contributions of Hispanic Americans to American society. Club officer Evelyn Fraga ‘13 echoed this theme in a recent ENLACE newsletter, noting that “All of these events are free and open.”

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