Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept 15 – Oct. 15. Here’s how CSUF kicked off this cultural landmark on Sept. 18.
By Micelle Ibanez
Esquite, flautas, churros, and platanos were among the many food choices representing Latinx culture at Cal State Fullerton’s Hispanic Heritage Month. Music, food, and laughter filled the Titan Student Union Wednesday, Sept. 18, in celebration of Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month.
CSUF president Fram Virjee opened the event with a speech about the importance of the celebration and the block party theme, especially given the current political climate.
“[Block parties] were to celebrate culture, they were seen as spaces of possibility, just like the new nation that these immigrants had come to was a space for possibilities, a land of opportunity,” Virjee said.
The Latinx/Hispanic community makes up about 42 percent of CSUF’s population, and Cal State Fullerton is 5th in the nation for graduating Latinx/Hispanic students, so this celebration was a representation of that.
Some of the performances included Danyeli Rodriguez, an Afro-Dominican spoken word poet from the Bronx. Her poetry about her immigration status, love and her experiences as an Afro-Dominican woman gave the room goosebumps, gained nods with yelled out yeses, and left some folks with runny mascara.
Rodriguez expressed appreciation of the way CSUF handled the celebration, reaffirming that this felt like an amazing space where everyone was welcomed.
“I want to give y’all credit, whoever put this together because, when I heard Bad Bunny and Romeo Santos, and then I saw something along the lines of shouting out the Afro-Latinx community, I knew this was a part of home,” Rodriguez said.
The celebration was also a collaboration between President Virjee, the Chicana/o Resource Center, and the Diversity Initiatives and Resource Centers of CSUF, who continuously create events and workshops supporting the minority groups on campus.
“It’s important for students to see themselves represented in events and the work that we do, and specifically the performances that we highlighted today was to highlight as many folks from the Latinx and Hispanic community as possible,” said Ariana Mora Mero, Coordinator of the Chicana/o Resource Center. “The Latinx community is so diverse that sometimes folks don’t feel included in programming or in speakers.”
Adai Flores, a public health major student at CSUF, shared how it brings pride to her Latinx heritage when she sees these types of events.
“I love the environment, how it makes students feel welcomed, involved and appreciated. Plus seeing other people of different cultures enjoying our food is nice, too,” Flores said.
The party also featured the Ballet Folklorico of CSUF, who faced technical difficulties before their performance, and as these were being solved, everyone ran to the dance floor when the beloved Caballo de Rodeo, a generational dance routine usually played at Mexican parties, started playing.
“[These celebrations] challenge what the Latinx term means, people think that it’s this blanket term for just Mexicans, but there’s really a bigger community and a lot of people are falling through the cracks,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like here they did a very good job of bringing different types of Latinx cultures. To create conversations of what Latinx means, but also to diversify what it means.”