Actress and filmmaker Julissa Calderon (left) and writer and performance artist La Espiritista are taking part in virtual talks with the university community as part of this year’s Latinx Heritage Month organized by El Centro.
For National Latinx Heritage Month, El Centro is hosting a series of virtual events for the Colorado State University community designed to celebrate culture as well as foster meaningful dialogue on marginalized communities.
Highlights include a keynote presentation on Sept. 29 by Julissa Calderon, an Afro-Latinx actress and filmmaker who stars in the MACRO/Netflix series GENTEFIED. Calderon, who portrays Yessika Castillo on the series, is a strong advocate for Afro-Latino representation and challenging Latino stereotypes.
The monthlong celebration — Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 — also will feature the inaugural Borderlands Speaker event, a collaboration between El Centro, the Pride Resource Center, and RamEvents honoring the overlap between Latinx Heritage Month and LGBTQ+ History Month, which is celebrated in October. Writer and performance artist La Espiritista will share poetry on Oct. 14.
El Centro also will host student-facilitated “Hot Chips” dialogues on “Anti-Blackness in the Latinx Community” on Sept. 23 and the “‘X’ in Latinx” on Oct. 7.
“During this really hard time in our nation’s history, when marginalized communities are being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-Blackness, police brutality, job loss and anxiety, it is so critical that we find ways to celebrate and experience joy as a way of coping and healing through this time,” said Dora Frias, director of El Centro. “In our culture, some of the ways that we cope, survive and thrive is through music, food, laughter, conversations — charlas, platicas — and celebration.”
Frias, who previously served as director of the Pride Resource Center, took on the leadership role at El Centro after longtime director Lupe Salazar became an adviser to CSU Vice President for Student Affairs Blanche Hughes this summer.
Frias explained that the events and speakers will provide opportunities for the CSU community to celebrate Latinx culture, dig deep into critical conversations related to anti-Blackness, uplift intersectional community experiences and provide spaces for healing, laughter and joy.
National Latinx Heritage was established in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson as Hispanic Heritage Week and later extended to a month under the Reagan administration in 1988. Latinx is a gender-neutral term for those with cultural ties to Latin America.
“All of our events will be virtual this year,” Frias said. “I understand that some folks may be feeling burnout with virtual events. I get that. But I still believe that we can build community, learn and find joy in these spaces. I hope that folks will join us as they are able.”
About El Centro
El Centro works to provide support for the Latinx community at CSU and Fort Collins through encouraging student engagement, academic success, cultural pride, empowerment, and volunteer/leadership opportunities. El Centro strives to promote an inclusive environment that focuses on awareness and understanding of the Latinx experience. Learn more at elcentro.colostate.edu.