“What does being Latina mean to you?,” the Centipede asked members of the Concord Academy community as they prepared to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
“It’s the food I eat and the language I speak. It’s home, family, and me,” responded Katherine Barahona ’18.
Hispanic Heritage Month commenced on September 15, celebrating the independence days of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Alianza Latina, an affinity space for students who identify as Latinx/Hispanic, anticipated this month to be about showing the community what being Hispanic really looks like outside the stereotypes while celebrating the Latinx community in CA.
Outside this community, President Donald Trump has made numerous acts and decisions that target and hurt the Latino community. Throughout his campaign, Trump has expressed his anti-immigrant sentiment originating from his racist comments against Latinos, specifically Mexican-Americans. Back in June of 2015, when he launched his campaign, Trump said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
On September 5, the Trump administration decided to terminate the federal government program, DACA which protected 800,000 immigrants who came here as children against deportation and gave many the opportunity to work and study in America.
Recently, President Trump made no offer to help the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico after it had been hit by a devastating hurricane that left the entire island without power. Furthermore, Puerto Rico’s conditions could last for another 10 months. This month, Alianza hopes that everyone takes more time to listen to a small part of this community who believe that this country doesn’t offer them or their families protection or support.
Shanirah Rodriguez ’20 said, “For me, being Latina is making sure you say “benedición” to all your family members when you walk in a room.” A significant part of Hispanic identity is family, and it is something Trump threatens to take away. Kez Almonte ’20 stated, “It’s through my family that makes being Latina special to me…being Dominican-American is balancing two different cultures. I live in New Jersey, but I’ll always have my roots which are Dominican. Speaking Spanish at home, growing up with telenovelas, and blasting Hispanic music in the morning are all the things that have to do with my identity as a Latina.”
The media has the biggest role when portraying Latinos in America. In TV and Hollywood, Latino men are often represented as criminals while Latina women are often hyper-sexualized. Jess Sang ’19 commented, “Being treated as exotic or foreign is not flattering.” Many Latinas in this community often feel pressured to look Latina by having “lighter or tan skin with big hoop earrings and the tight ponytail.” When you enter a community where your culture is not represented, the weight is placed on the person to represent their culture. “I had to show my Latino pride to myself before I showed it to everyone else,” Erick Miron ’18 admitted. Rodriguez also mentioned, “I wish more people didn’t assume that Hispanics have to look the same or speak the same.”
Barahona explained, “We’re not all Mexicans. People can’t just group us into one category.”