ETHS students react to Affinity Summits


Source: Trinity Collins

Michael Reyes of Reyes Poetry spoke to students during ETHS Latinx Summit.

Andres Correa, Assistant City Editor

Evanston Township High School senior Karina Rodriguez organized the workshop “Not Latino Enough” for ETHS’s annual affinity summits in part because she wanted to learn more about how the identity reflects on herself.

Last week, ETHS hosted a Latinx summit, which marked the final affinity summit of the Social Consciousness Series. Each summit centered on different identities: there were ones focusing on Latinx, Black, Asian, Middle Eastern and LGBTQ+ experiences. While the summits are available to all students, students from these marginalized identities were given priority to attend the day-long event. The summits included guest speakers like Michael Reyes, a Chicano poet, who engaged the crowd of students in spoken word poetry at the Latinx summit.

Since moving to Evanston in 2016, Rodriguez has either attended, organized or helped facilitate nearly all the affinity summits hosted at ETHS. The high school senior, who is Asian, Latina and queer, said the summits have allowed her to understand how she wants to define herself.

Rodriguez, who grew up in Connecticut, said she never really saw people who looked like her in her old school, which is predominately white.

Through the summits, she said she has been able to learn about herself and others. As a way to give back to the summit, Rodriguez created her own workshop, which she prepared over the course of a year. She said she researched the history of indigenous people in the Americas, Latinx communities in Chicago and Chicanx social movements. She said that through her research, she was able to learn about how these factors fit into the Latinx identity.

“Because I am mixed, I don’t fit into the stereotypical image of, this is what an Asian, this is what a Latino person is or this is what a queer person is,” she said. “Getting to know that I can define myself in my own terms has been really interesting. They’re really is no one definition of what it means to be Latino, Asian or queer.”

Litzy Segura, an ETHS junior, attended Rodriguez’s workshop and said it allowed her to talk to different people, after which she came to realize she is not the only one who questions her Latina identity.

She said the workshop brought up important questions that are not often discussed in Latinx households.

“I really don’t talk to my mom about how I can be a better Latino, or how can I improve the Latino community,” she said.

In addition to Rodriguez’s workshop, Segura said she liked the workshop centered on mental health in the Latinx community, a topic she said is rarely discussed.

She said his year’s summit has motivated her to get more involved in them. She said she would like to see a workshop on being mislabeled within the Latinx community.

Segura’s cousin, Angelica, who is a sophomore at ETHS, also attended the mental health workshop. She said the mental health workshop allowed her to feel more comfortable reaching out for help and helped her to understand that she is not alone.

“When people asked, ‘How does your family deal with mental health?’ everyone responded with ‘Oh it’s not real, you’re just having a bad day, it will go away after I make you dinner,’’ she said. “It was really interesting because that’s kind of what goes on in my house.”

Similar to her cousin, Angelia Segura said she wants to get more involved with the summits and discuss topics that often get pushed to the side, like issues of mental health.

Trinity Collins, a senior at ETHS, attended the LGBTQ+ summit and said her favorite workshop was the queer people of color panel. She said she learned more about the experiences of queer people of color and in turn, how to help amplify the voices of this group as a queer white person.

While she learned a lot at these summits, she said some of the other workshops could have implemented more lived experiences and allowed for people to connect with each other.

“I wish there were more moments where I could connect with people in the space, so when I left the summit I still had that community in Evanston,” she said.

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