President Cindy Jebb and the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Compliance (EDIC) held the opening proclamation for Latinx Heritage Month on Sept. 19 at the Arch. The month officially lasts from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
“It is my honor and privilege to welcome you to the kickoff of Latinx Heritage Month,” Chief Equity and Diversity Officer Nicole Morgan Agard said.
Agard spoke about inclusivity and Latinx Heritage Month being a way to celebrate the rich Latin culture in the United States. She said Ramapo uses “Latinx” instead of “Hispanic” or “Latino” to include all people from Spanish-speaking countries and to be “expansive and gender-inclusive of gender non-conforming individuals.” She also read a few powerful quotes from members of the Latinx community, including Carlos Santana and Sonia Sotomayor.
Jebb then read the opening proclamation statement, officially dedicating the month at Ramapo. She also read an excerpt from “So Much Happens In A Day,” a poem by famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. She said the poem was about “how precious and beautiful life is and how quick it can change.” She connected that message to moments on campus like opening proclamations, where students and faculty come together to reflect and celebrate.
Brianny Mejia, president of the Organization of Latino Unity and an EDIC intern, was the next speaker and expressed her pride in her Dominican heritage.
“I’ve always felt passionate about my roots and since coming to Ramapo, I’ve always wanted to learn more about my heritage and other Latinx cultures,” she said.
Rachel Sawyer Walker, associate director of EDIC, spoke about how many students have come together for the events the program held last week and about inclusion and allyship.
“Latinx culture is American culture,” she said, referring to how the country was built on the hard work of many different individuals and cultures.
As for allyship, she said simply being an ally is not enough. She said you need to be a “co-conspirator” who works directly with marginalized groups to challenge the system as opposed to simply reading the literature or knowing what work needs to be done.
She closed the event by describing some of the upcoming events EDIC is hosting for Latinx Heritage Month. The Berrie Center will hold Tertulia!, a program consisting of a documentary screening and performances by Latinx musicians and dancers, on Sept. 24. On Sept. 28, a dance class called Stomp the Yard: Salsa Edition will be held on the Birch Mansion lawn. A full list of the events can be found on the EDIC website.