Latinx Heritage Month celebrations explore inclusion for intersectional identities

Latinx Heritage Month — Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 — celebrates the experiences, traditions and ethnicities of communities from Latin America. 

El Centro, Colorado State University’s diversity office for the Latinx community, kicked off the month on the Lory Student Plaza on Sept. 15, where they shared their planned programming. In addition to physically attending the event, KCSU was broadcasting music from different Latinx/e artists to honor the cultural contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans. 

This year’s celebration of Latinx Heritage Month, which includes three keynote speaker events, is in conjunction with several other Diversity Offices to recognize the intersectional identities of CSU community members. El Centro Director Dora Frias said she recognizes that LGBTQ+ History Month and Latinx Heritage Month overlap each other by two weeks at the beginning, which may act as a catalyst to continue the conversation beyond just one identity. 

“This is my second year at El Centro,” Frias said. “Celebrating culture extends all year, it’s not limited to the confines of just one month.”

This year’s celebration of Latinx Heritage Month will be in conjunction with several other Diversity Offices to acknowledge CSU’s abundance of intersectional identities.

The events

Programming for the month includes Latinx authors, speakers and poets, but isn’t limited to just that. Platicas, a student-facilitated dialogue series for students to discuss current cultural issues, will have several crossover events with the Black/African American Cultural Center’s dialogue series, Real Talk. 

“Our generation of students has shown that they’re willing to learn from their identities and become more educated to grow from the issues in the past,” said Manchis Ceja, who is the family leader of La Conexión, El Centro’s peer mentoring program.

There are three keynote speakers who are featured in this year’s Latinx heritage events. The speakers include performer and author Elizabeth Acevedo, poet Yesika Salgado and author Gaby Rivera. Each speaker is in collaboration with other diversity offices.

The Acevedo keynote is in partnership with the Black/African American Cultural Center. Acevedo is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Poet X, which won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. The talk is on Zoom on Sept. 21 from 5-7 p.m.

The Salgado keynote is a partnership with the Women and Gender Advocacy Center at CSU. Salgado is a poet who writes about her family, her culture, her city, and “her fat brown body.” The talk is scheduled for Sept. 28 from 6-7:15 p.m. in the LSC Gray Rock Meeting Room. There also will be a Zoom option to attend.

The Borderlands keynote hosted by Rivera is an intentional collaboration between the Pride Resource Center and El Centro to acknowledge the overlap between Latinx heritage and LGBTQ+ history. Rivera is the first Latina to write for Marvel Comics, authoring the series America about America Chavez, a portal-punching queer Latina powerhouse. The talk is scheduled for Oct. 7 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in LSC 382. There also will be a Zoom option to attend.

“We want students to see that there are people to represent their intersectional, Latin American identities through events this month,” Frias said. 

Accessibility for hybrid students

The plans for this upcoming celebration are not strictly limited to students at CSU. On Sept. 27, the Office of Inclusive Excellence will be hosting a meet and greet from 3:30-5 p.m. for faculty and staff who identify as Latinx. Anyone in the community is welcome to come of course, but the event is intended for professionals to network and share experiences from the strain on gatherings last year. 

Additionally, this month’s cultural heritage celebration will be dually accessible for attendees to be physically and virtually present. While last year’s celebration was strictly virtual, this year’s events will likely be smaller to encourage students to feel more comfortable in coming back to in-person. 

“We want our Latinx students to know that we’re excited to have you back on campus, especially the first- and second-years that didn’t get to have this experience because of the pandemic,” Frias said. 

Latinx Heritage Month

The pandemic has given reason for students, staff, and faculty to take advantage of community-based events, Frias said. Latinx Heritage Month provides an opportunity to spend time celebrating diverse experiences and traditions. 

Latinx Heritage Month provides an opportunity to spend time celebrating diverse experiences and traditions.

“There’s nothing better than surrounding myself with a community that understands who I am and what I’m going through,” Ceja said. “It helps me to keep learning and engaging.”

Yet, for those who are not ready or able to come back to completely in-person events, El Centro will continue to offer hybrid options. With a focus on being inclusive, the events in this year’s Latinx Heritage Month aim to help people engage and process from the loss of last year’s missed connections. 

My hope is we can come back together experience joy and laughter and collectively learn about who we are, who we were before the pandemic and heal from what we’ve been through,” Frias said.