By Joe Giddens
This was reflected in an evolution of Pima Community College’s annual celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
This year’s event, “A Celebration of Latinx History,” was held at the Downtown Campus on Sept. 26.
The event boasted two firsts: It was the first time Pima has used the term “Latinx” for the month and for the first time, the Writing Department was involved in the proceedings, according to Mike Lopez of the Downtown Campus Student Life Office. “Because we’re a Hispanic-serving institution, it seems like a particularly important month to highlight at the college,” said Brooke Anderson, organizer and writing faculty member.“(The term ‘Latinx’) is the most inclusive way to represent people from a Latin descent. And so not only does it represent men and women but people that are sort of on the spectrum.”
“To look at a language that is literally like gender binary in the linguistics in having ‘o’ for a masculine ending or an ‘a’ for a feminine ending,” said Marcos Trujillo, sociology and gender and women’s studies faculty. “It’s nice to have an ‘X’ that might represent something that is not specifically gender.”
This idea of things existing on a borderland or as a mixture between two groups was the theme of the evening, reflected in the history of Mexico starting as a mixture of Spanish and Native people.
“El camino de la mestiza/The Mestiza Way” was one of the central concepts addressed by American poet Gloria Anzaldúa, whose work was the focus of the event. In other words, people can transcend identities that others want to place upon them.
Being and identifying as multiple things was a theme that many in attendance identified with, including Anzaldúa.
“I, like other queer people, am two in one body. Both male and female,” said Anzaldúa about her work. “I am the embodiment of the Hieros Gamos: the coming together of the opposite qualities within.”
The student portion of the event kicked off with Francisca James Hernandez’s students from “Sexuality, Gender and Culture,” which discussed both the roots of Anzaldúa’s work and her heritage. “For me, Gloria Anzaldua’s concept of internal borders really resonated, as I have never felt as if I fit into any one particular box or category,” said Pima student Cassondra Jones. “Gloria taught me to appreciate the crossroads in which I exist and to view my in-betweenness as a fund of knowledge to be utilized in my efforts to better the world around me.”“This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color” a poem analysis and discussion was carried out by Gabriel Higuera’s “Intro to Chicano Studies” students. “It is the single most important text in terms of my graduate work and my work today and how I view literature and feminism and literature,” said instructor Sandra Shattuck.
“Today, I felt free because I tried to communicate something in a different language and to hear all these ideas made me feel very proud about my life and about my culture (Peru),” said student Steve Suarez.