Sept. 15 kicked off a month of ‘bailes’ and ‘fiestas’ for Latinx Heritage Month. According to the Latin Times in August 2019, it is a time “... To recognize the contributions and vital presence of both Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and to observe their native heritage and contributing culture.”
Celebrations started Sept. 16 at BGSU with “El Corazón de México Ballet Folklórico,” a group of traditional Mexican dancers alongside other traditional festivities.
Latino Student Union and the Office of Multicultural Affairs are collaborating to celebrate the month alongside other Latinx students at BGSU, with various events planned with students.
Ana C. Brown, the director of OMA, expressed what Latinx Heritage Month means and what it means for Latinx students.
“It’s a chance for those people on campus who voices are not typically heard, whose voices aren’t typically brought to the forefront, to show a little bit of pride and show a little of ‘this is who we are.’ When we are talking about Hispanic and Latino, we are talking about a huge vast array of people from a bunch of different cultures,” Brown said.
She recalled, the reason that Latinx Heritage Month starts specifically in the middle of September, between Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is because the independence days of five Latin American countries falls on Sept. 15. Other independence days falling around the same date have become a recognized celebration of Latin American peoples and cultures, and too, liberation from Spain.
Brown also mentioned the history between Mexico and the United States, and how the history is unknown to many Americans, especially in the current political state.
“I think it’s important to understand marginalized communities in the United States and the reasons why we celebrate these months. It’s important to acknowledge the fact that we don’t know nearly as much about Latino and Hispanic heritage as much as we should,” she said.
During the celebration of Latinx Heritage Month, learning and understanding between students creates a sense of belonging.
“Hispanic Heritage Month to me is something that is dedicated to my culture … Having that opportunity to be able to just celebrate my culture with people who are like me; it’s just uplifting, especially on campus,” said LSU President, Xavi Boes.
For Boes, it’s a comfort to be around other people like him. When he came to Bowling Green, he experienced culture shock due to the amount of Latinx students at BGSU compared to that of his hometown, which was predominantly white.
As he established his place at BGSU, he established the same ideals for others that step foot on campus.
“Provide that safe space for people — not only that look like you — but are like-minded and have the same feelings of the issues that we discuss. … The importance is to have that representation on campus,” emphasized Boes. “The importance to embrace it is to celebrate it; like this is a time for us. … There’s not a lot of us, so we have to come together as one.”
The emphasis on unity and understanding is not solely the aim of OMA or LSU, but of the Latinx community on campus as well.
Senior Inclusive Early Childhood Education major, Christina Ruiz, finds celebrating Latinx Heritage Month important and vital. Growing up in Perrysburg, Ohio, she didn’t know there was a month dedicated to the celebration of Latinx cultures until she came to BGSU.
“It’s really important, especially for younger generations to see themselves during this month and their culture be represented, and knowing that it's nothing to hide or be ashamed of. It doesn’t just have the negative connotations people may stereotype us as it's supposed to be celebrated and you’re supposed to be proud of who you are,” she said.
Ruiz stressed on the progression and globalization of the world, and the importance of understanding others who are different.
“Going out there and learning more about the world around you … Knowing and understanding that there's certain groups of people that will have different experiences than you … Understanding that their stories are important too; we need to hear those stories,” said Ruiz.
Brown, Boes and Ruiz alike emphasized the engagement and embracing — not simply Latinx cultures — but the variety of diverse groups on campus. They spoke of the importance of listening and understanding of multicultural students experiences and stories, especially at BGSU, they feel it will help to cultivate a spirit of “diversity and inclusion.”
“Understanding, as people of color, our stories are often untold or they’re not told by us. They’re told through an observational lense rather through an experienced lens, and the heritage months are a way for us to tell our stories from our lenses. And maybe shed some light in a different way than the observational lens does. So, it’s a great way to learn and grow in ways you might not otherwise. And representation matters! I can’t say that enough,” said Brown.