The Hispanic-Latinx Heritage Month celebration is in full swing on Ramapo’s campus thanks to the Opening Proclamation held in the Pavilion on Monday. Hosted by the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Compliance (EDIC), the event featured speakers from all over campus along with a lively performance from Calpulli Mexican Dance Company.
Chief Equity and Diversity Officer Nicole Morgan Agard opened the event by recognizing the importance of the month, which lasts from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, and the many powerful examples of Latinx culture in media. She had discovered the TV show “Jane the Virgin” recently and commended it for its depiction of strong Latina women.
“It was truly a breath of fresh air to watch a show where the main characters are individuals of color and, in particular, Latin and Hispanic individuals of color because we don’t see that often,” she said. “Please take some time this month to celebrate Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month on your own by watching a movie, a film, a show… to learn something new.”
She then welcomed President Cindy Jebb to the stage, who praised EDIC for all their hard work in planning with other offices, departments, clubs, and organizations for the upcoming programs over the next few weeks.
“When we gather as a community to recognize the many intrigues and gifts of heritage and culture, we strengthen the Ramapo community, as well as society at large. I so appreciate seeing our students, faculty and staff, friends who come together to celebrate and to learn,” she said.
After Jebb read the opening proclamation statement, Arts-in-Education Director and Co-Founder of Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, Alberto Lopez Herrera, took the stage to introduce his two dancers, Christopher Cortez and Cindy Garcia.
He explained the first style of dance as from the state of Veracruz. The dancers wore all-white attire, typical for the Veracruz style of dance, which Herrera said has some Spanish influences.
The second style of dance was from “the land of the mariachi,” otherwise known as the state of Jalisco, and included three separate dance numbers. For attire, Cortez wore a costume called a charro, which Herrera shared traditionally had coins sewn into the pants, and Garcia wore a traditional Jalisco ribbon dress with a bright red skirt that typically weighs more than 15 pounds.
During the break between dances, Herrera taught the audience how to perform gritos, which are exclamations of joy and pride in Mexican culture. He asked the audience to practice ones specific to the Veracruz and Jalisco styles of dance and encouraged them to shout them while the dancers performed.
“Every single time when you see us at a Mexican celebration, or in general at Latino celebrations, you can share with the Latinos’ grito. [You] express yourself when you do this one,” Herrera said. “If you feel sad, you can do a grito. If you’re happy, you can do a grito. If you get divorced, you can do a grito.”
“I so appreciate seeing our students, faculty and staff, friends who come together to celebrate and to learn”
– President Cindy Jebb
To close out the event, Public Safety Officer Jonathan Huerta spoke about what Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month means to him as a Mexican-American first-generation college graduate. He named many influential Mexican people throughout history from astronaut José Hernández to boxer Oscar De La Hoya to painter Frida Kahlo. He also discussed his personal journey of discovering his culture, including watching films and taking college-level Spanish classes to learn Spanish for the first time.
“The reason why I wanted to embark [on] my academic journey into this was because you’re breaking against all barriers, against all the odds going on, you have generations that want to make a difference in their communities,” he said.
There are a variety of upcoming events as the celebration of Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month continues, including a full performance by Calpulli Mexican Dance Company on Oct. 7 at the Berrie Center. A full list can be found on EDIC’s website.
Featured photo by Office of Communications and Publications