The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

This Year’s Latin American Heritage month

This Year’s Latin American Heritage month

Independence Day for many Latin American countries — and continuing until Oct. 15, Latin American Heritage Month celebrates the voices and experiences of Hispanics and Latine people in the United States. 

“[Latin American Heritage Month] is an annual opportunity for people with roots in Latin America to celebrate our histories, cultures, accomplishments and contributions,” President Rivera wrote in an email to The Mac Weekly. “At Macalester, it’s a chance for students, faculty and staff who identify as Hispanic or Latino/a/x/e to be more visible and to express pride in our shared connections.”

“I also think we [Latine people] have an opportunity to be in solidarity about the things we have in common,” Rivera wrote. “While the concept of a unified Hispanic or Latino or Latinx identity is a construction, we can choose to support each other and work together on shared goals.”

Throughout the month, student organizations like Latinx Student Union (LSU) and Adelante! hosted events independently and with the college to bring together the Latine community on campus. 

The events ranged from small gatherings like the Paint & SIP, an event hosted by LSU and Adelante! where students had a relaxing night painting and drinking mocktails, to bigger events, such as the Latinx Heritage Month Showcase. 

“We’ve been doing community building within LSU just because we believe you have to know the people you are around in order to feel comfortable talking about important topics,” LSU board member Sophia Salinas ’24 said. “It’s an important event that LSU hosts as it shows students that a space exists for them.” 

As the month went on, Macalester’s Institutional Equity, Spanish and Linguistics departments held events and invited speakers, allowing students to hear stories and experiences that represent and highlight Latin American culture. 

The Institutional Equity Committee hosted the “Latine/x History Month Community Luncheon”.  It created a space where Latine students, faculty and alumni could come together over lunch. 

Later in October, Minnesota House Representative María Isa Pérez-Vega (D-65B) and Seton Hall University political science professor and Zapotec poet Felipe H. Lopez spoke at separate events hosted by the college.  

Pérez-Vega talked about how her Puerto Rican heritage heavily influenced her throughout her life, leading her to create music combining her Minnesota and Afro-Indigenous cultures together. She also played her Bomba drum, a wooden-cask drum used to play one of the oldest types of music in Puerto Rico, demonstrating how music is an important part of her culture and identity. 

Lopez discussed his experiences and identity growing up in Oaxaca, Mexico. Lopez’s first language was Zapotec, an endangered indigenous language, so when he came to the United States as a teenager, he knew little Spanish and no English. Lopez talked about having to overcome these challenges, in addition to being disconnected from his family back home and having to adjust to life in the U.S.

Throughout the later part of his life, Lopez started documenting the Zapotec language and writing poems. 

“I write in my language because my memories are in Zapotec,” Lopez writes on his website. “My soul speaks Zapotec. I translate them because I want others to understand and see themselves in my words.”

The month finished off with the third annual Latinx Heritage month showcase, hosted by LSU on Friday, Oct. 13. It was a showcase of Latinx culture, represented by students and faculty from Macalester, as well as outside organizations and speakers. 

The showcase was held in Kagin Ballroom. Upon entering, guests were met with the sounds of Latin rhythms, played by the Twin Cities Latin Band, a group that plays bachata, salsa, cumbia and merengue music. 

The night started out with a speech made by the co-chairs of LSU, Salinas and Cristina Suarez Lopez ’24. In their remarks, they talked about the theme for this year’s Latin American Heritage Month: “Driving Prosperity, Power and Progression in America.”

In previous years, LSU came up with their own theme, but this year, LSU decided to adopt the nationwide Latin American Heritage month theme.

After the remarks, the night shifted into performances and speakers, including Alicia Severiano Perez ’26, and Grupo De Danzas Colombianas MN, a group that performs traditional folkloric Colombian dances from different parts of Colombia.

Severiano Perez performed a traditional regional dance from Jalisco, Mexico and discussed the importance of dance in Latin American and Mexican history and culture. The speakers of the night included Macalester educational studies professor Dr. Gonzalo Guzmán, political strategist Edwin Torres and poet Raina León.

Guzmán began with an ode to home, his home and the Latino community.

“An ode to us as a larger Latinx community,” Guzmán explained after the event. “My speech was focused on using our Macalester education experience as a means of reclamation, restoration, and celebrating Latinidad. A place where pride and love of our homes, histories, families and cultures is affirmed.” 

Torres spoke about his experiences as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient from El Salvador and his college journey in the United States 

Finally, León gave insight into her family history. She discussed her mixed heritage and how ancestry plays a huge role in her life. 

“It was so inspiring, considering how all the guest speakers kind of coalesced with the theme,” Guzmán reflected. “That was the first time the three of us [speakers] had met at that table that night.”

“The idea that we were echoing each other in terms of how we appreciated not just our families but our educational experiences and our own people I think speaks to Latinx heritage itself,” Guzmán continued.

LSU made an effort to include faculty, staff and admin as well as their families to come to the event.

“I think a lot of the time, our professors or staff only see us from a student perspective and it’s nice for them to see us organizing [from] a student leader perspective,” Salinas said. 

Guzmán emphasized in his talk the often unspoken connection that comes from participating in these events.

“Even when it’s unspoken, there’s still this collection of us together.” Guzmán said, “It’s just this deeper level of human connection that speaks to the power of culture. At the very least, it was a space that we knew that we belonged to and it was our space as well. There is a deep sense of community from the get-go before we even walked in.” 


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