This month, the Intercultural Center and Swarthmore’s Hispanic and Latino organization ENLACE held lectures, events and performances in an effort to both talk about and celebrate Latino identity. This September’s conglomeration of Latino-centered events is known as Latino Heritage Month.
“I hope that these events can be a source of pride for Latino students and a learning opportunity for non-Latino students,” said Cecilia Marquez ’11, a leader in ENLACE.
Twelve percent of Swarthmore students identify themselves as Latino or Latina, said Marquez. Although Latino Heritage Month’s events are open to the whole campus, ENLACE’s meetings are open only to students who identify themselves as Latino or Latina.
In addition to events such as a barbeque and a movie screening, Marquez said that two of the most notable events were two lectures from prominent women in Latino studies.
Vicki Ruiz, a professor from the University of California at Irvine, came to speak at Swarthmore “about Latino history as United States history.” In her lecture, “she analyzed different key points in American history from the perspective of Latinos,” said Marquez.
Raquel River, currently a Research Fellow at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, also came to speak.
“Both Raquel Rivera and Vicki Ruiz were incredibly engaging and dynamic speakers,” said Marquez.
These sort of lectures, however, are “double-edged”: said Marquez, “I’m excited to learn so many amazing things, but disappointed that the only way I get to learn them is through a special lecture.” And though Marquez said that these lectures were “highly attended,” she added that it was “not surprisingly [by] primarily students of color.”
“While the turnout for non-Latino students was high, the same cannot be said for white students,” said Marquez.
Nevertheless, Marquez believes Latino Heritage Month has been a success—one, even, that she hopes will incite change at Swarthmore.
“All of the events so far have been incredibly fun and empowering,” she said. “I think that the high attendance at these lectures really speaks to the need for Latino Studies and more broadly, ethnic studies at Swarthmore.”