On Saturday, September 13, at La Casa Hispánica, Oberlin students celebrated the beginning of Latinx Heritage Month (LHM) by sharing tamales and learning about the significance of tamales in Mexican culture and history from members of the Mexican American Student Alliance (MASA). Throughout the festivities which will be observed through October 13, there will be a series of events ranging from workshops and panels to performances that celebrate and explore Latinidad and the achievements of the Latinx community.
The LHM programming was largely coordinated by the LHM committee, a group of Latinx identifying students who volunteered their time, including their summers, to organize events and contact speakers, along with Julio Reyes, the Latinx community coordinator at the Multicultural Resource Center. This year the organizers of the month have changed the name, previously Latino/a or Latin@ Heritage Month, due to the gendered structure of the Spanish language, to Latinx (pronounced Latinexx) to better represent every member of the Latinx community such as genderqueer, non-binary identifying people.
With the help of faculty, staff, and Oberlin community members, the committee has arranged for speakers such as writer and finalist for Latino Literacy Now's International Latino Book Awards, Alejandra Campos; author Carol Hess, and organizers Isabel Valenzuela and Tony Nelson to come to Oberlin. There will be performances, and some workshops, from La Yegros, a singer/songwriter active in the underground music scene of Buenos Aires, Argentina; comedians Gwen La Roka, Aida Rodriguez, and Elizardi Castro; Argentine music and dance ensemble Tami Tango Trio; performance artist and author Maria Aponte; and composer Raphael Jiménez. The LHM committee has also organized faculty and student panels and a Dia de la Raza Banquet, featuring award-winning poet, actor, speaker and author Carlos Andrés Gómez, which challenges Columbus Day by celebrating Indigeneity, mixed identities, and survival that is a part of Latinx identity.
The organizers planned the month’s events around issues that they collectively decided to highlight. According to senior Ana Robelo, a LHM committee member, one of the most important aspects of the month is the opportunity for members of the Latinx community at Oberlin to speak about their experiences. It is also important for Latinx-identifying and non-identifying students alike to learn about Latinx history. “Having a platform for many students to share their stories and build a strong community is important,” said Robelo. “Students who are part of the community find it to be really affirming.”
LHM is sponsored by La Alianza Latinx, Ohio Hispanic Heritage Coalition, The Oberlin College Office of Community & Government Relations, The Cat In The Cream, La Casa Hispánica, Oberlin Young Educators, the Multicultural Resource Center, the Lamda Union, and the departments of Latin American studies, gender, sexuality, and feminist studies, and comparative American studies.
All are welcome and encouraged to attend. “See it more as a conversation with us,” advises Robelo.