Latinx Heritage Month Is A Celebration You Should Get Involved With


As a second generation Puerto Rican living in New York, I feel a little bit of a disconnect with my own culture. There are many people that point fingers and say that Puerto Ricans (especially Nuyoricans) are some of the “least Latinx Latinx’.” In my case, they might be right. I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish at home, nor were Sunday dinners consistently pollo guisado or mofongo. But that doesn’t mean that I am any less Latinx than my Poppy, who was born in Puerto Rico. That is why I think celebrating Latinx Heritage Month is so incredibly important and that cultural gatekeeping — whatever form it may take — can have serious implications. Denying someone the right to fully claim their own heritage is harmful — and sometimes even damaging. Whether you are a part of the Latinx community or of a different culture and just want to educate yourself, go and do so. 

At St. John’s University, we are lucky to have an actual celebration of Latinx Heritage Month. Some schools simply acknowledge the fact that the month exists and then keep it moving. Here, we have so many great organizations such as LASO and Sensación that recognize the importance of celebrating, educating and sharing all of the amazing aspects of Latinx culture. Educating others on a culture that they may not be familiar with does more good than harm. 

Being Latinx is a large part of my identity, and just because I was not born on La Isla del Encanto (a nickname for Puerto Rico) does not mean I cannot fully claim that part of me. That is why I am so grateful for Latinx Heritage Month, so that I cannot only learn more about my own culture, but the culture of other Latinx countries as well. That also helps me to see the value in teaching others, especially during this period of political turmoil in the United States. 

As if the crisis along the border was not enough, the recent tragedy in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, shows how much of an issue xenophobia is in the United States. The gunman in the shooting, a young white male, told the police that “he had targeted Mexicans” in his attack that killed 22 people, according to The New York Times. The fact that some individuals have harbored such a great amount of hatred and fear in their hearts to act on it in such a manner is terrifying. Thus, during this Latinx Heritage Month, the need to educate and celebrate is more important than ever. 

Go alone to an event on campus, or better yet, go with friends. Try a new meal or listen to a new song. Learning about and appreciating cultural differences is the first step to a greater sense of understanding in this world. Nobody wants to live in a world where cultures are appropriated and stereotypes are perpetuated, so why allow it to go any further by allowing cultural barriers? And, another thing to keep in mind; don’t limit your celebrating to just this month — Latinx heritage is something to be engaged with all year long. Once the month ends and you find yourself looking for more ways to engage with Latinx culture, you can hop on the F train and venture to 236 E 3rd Street for a taste of a Puerto Rican neighborhood that you will never want to leave.