MSA promotes inclusion at Latinx Heritage Month kickoff


Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson

MSA’s Latinx Heritage Month kickoff from 2019. This year, the programming combines active and passive virtual options.

Eva Herscowitz, Reporter

As Multicultural Student Affairs held its kickoff for Latinx Heritage Month on Friday, the biggest message was an emphasis on intersectionality.

Latinx Heritage Month is typically celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, but MSA’s programming began Sept. 28 and ends Nov. 22 to account for Northwestern’s academic calendar. The month began with a Sept. 28 opening celebration at the Block Museum of Art’s “Pop América, 1965–1975”, which spotlights Latinx Pop artists who reimagined the art form as a tool of resistance and expression.

Emmanuel López, an MSA graduate assistant who coordinates programs supporting the Latinx community, outlined the month’s events while about 20 students and faculty ate tacos al pastor, beef fajitas and mini churros in Scott Hall.

López said the month’s focus on inclusion begins with its name: MSA calls the month Latinx — rather than Hispanic — Heritage Month because the former includes indigenous, Brazilian and other non-Spanish speaking groups. The gender-neutral “x” also supports non-binary people.

The month’s events acknowledge Latinx interests and issues, López said, while embracing multicultural traditions. He added that all students are welcome to the 13 scheduled events.

“We try to be diverse in our programming: getting students to dance, eat, meet Latinx faculty, play cultural games,” he said. “This is Latinx Heritage month, but not only Latinx students are invited. It’s open to anybody to engage with the community.”

Programs like the Oct. 7 Harvest Indigenous Discussions invite students to discuss indigenous and Native American issues, as well as the groups’ legacies in the Western Hemisphere. Other events include free HIV testing on Oct. 15, National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day; an Oct. 16 workshop on bomba and plena, Afro-Caribbean musical traditions; and an Oct. 21 Chicago trip to meet author Erika Sánchez.

Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life Keith Garcia, who advises the Multicultural Greek Council, said he’s looking forward to “reconnecting with former students” throughout the month. Last year’s Latinx Homecoming Tailgate, which was sponsored by the Latino Alumni of Northwestern University, drew more than 100 current and former students.

“The culturally-based fraternity and sorority alumni body is still very much connected to campus,” Garcia said.

López said MSA hopes to forge connections between Latinx students and faculty through this year’s programming. At the Oct. 25 Café con Leche event, for example, students will have the opportunity to hear from Latinx faculty about their research.

SESP junior Ray Solorzano came to the kickoff to meet up with friends, most of whom he has met through MSA programming, Northwestern’s Latinx student coalition Alianza and the Bridge program for low-income and first-generation students.

Solorzano, who was formerly on the Alianza executive board, said the group fostered a community of like-minded Latinx students. He added that Northwestern’s Latinx community is “a home away from home.”

Faculty members present at the kick-off included Garcia, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, executive director of Campus Inclusion & Community Lesley-Ann Brown-Henderson and professor Enectalí Figueroa-Feliciano.

MSA began planning the month’s activities in early September, López said. Latinx Heritage Month, which is MSA’s first sponsored heritage month, overlaps with October’s Queer & Trans Empowerment Month. The organization will commemorate November’s Native American Heritage Month, February’s Black History Month and May’s Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month with events throughout the year.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @herscowitz

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