This September and October, Washington State University is celebrating the countries and cultures of Latin America during Latinx Heritage Month.
The month recognizes the diverse and dynamic culture of a diaspora of people with ancestry in the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, South America, and Spain. It will include a variety of events on several campuses centered on the theme “Transcending Barriers.”
Latinx Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 each year to honor the many countries of Latin America that gained independence during that timeframe.
Representing all Latinx students
Celebrated nationally as Hispanic Heritage Month, this month is known by several other names, and many WSU campuses use Latinx Heritage Month to recognize the intersectionality of the multiple social identities of the Latinx community, said Jocelin Gallardo, interim retention counselor at the Chicanx/Latinx Student Center (CLSC) on the Pullman campus.
The National Hispanic Heritage Month statement on the WSU Vancouver website describes it as a time to celebrate the “rich histories, cultures, contributions and accomplishments of Hispanic and Latinx people.”
“The month is really about embracing and celebrating the diverse and dynamic cultures of all those countries,” Gallardo said. “We want students to know that it matters to WSU that their cultures are represented.”
That representation and intersectionality are reflected in the events taking place on WSU campuses during the month – most of which are being planned and led by students. Event organizers have made efforts to include a variety of cultures and perspectives in their programming, creating welcoming and affirming spaces where attendees can learn and appreciate a culture that may be different from their own.
“Culture is medicine and a first step in healing from historic traumas for many communities of color,” said Felix Braffith, the director of Student Equity, Success, and Inclusive Excellence on the Vancouver campus.
Events are open to all
The Vancouver, Tri Cities, and Pullman campuses have a number of events planned for the coming weeks, including an art night, movie showings, a food festival, and more.
The Tri Cities campus is hosting programs aimed at connecting Latinx Cougs. The Get to Know a Hispanic Coug series, happening event Monday through Oct. 15, will feature interviews with Latinx Cougs on the MOSAIC Center for Student Inclusion Instagram, and a panel Sept. 30 will feature local Latinx professionals discussing identity and culture in the workplace.
On the Vancouver campus, the Center for Intercultural Learning and Affirmation continued its Cultural Arts and Equity Hip-Hop Series with a performance by Yosimar Reyes, a nationally acclaimed poet and speaker. The series aims to enhance cultural competency and provide a common human experience to illuminate how much people have in common with one another, Braffith said. On Oct. 6, the campus is holding a discussion of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s book “My Beloved World.”
In Pullman, students have had art nights and made mini piñatas and, on Sept. 30, can connect and relax at a game night. The month’s events will conclude on Oct. 14 with the grand opening of the Undocumented at WSU center, an inclusive space where undocumented students can find support, participate in programs, and connect with fellow Cougs.
All events are free and open to the WSU community.
“We want to emphasize that you don’t have to identify as Latinx to come to these events, to embrace these cultures, to be exposed to these identities,” Gallardo said. “Our events are open to everyone, and we will embrace anyone who wants to see what we’re all about.”