Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off virtually

Mariachi+Mexicanisimo+played+during+the+virtual+HHM+Kickoff.

Cleo Bretz/ISLAND WAVES

Mariachi Mexicanisimo played during the virtual HHM Kickoff.

Karina Garcia, Riptide Anchor/Reporter

TAMU-CC annually commemorates Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) through various campus events and festivities. This year’s HHM Kickoff took place on Sept. 15. However due to the coronavirus, this year’s kickoff was unlike any other, with virtual performances from Mariachi Mexicanisimo as well as a virtual presentation from first-year seminar assistant professor, historian and keynote speaker Amanda Marquez. 

Marquez began the afternoon by recognizing that TAMU-CC stands today as a four-year institution because of the efforts from the Mexican American civil rights activists who filed the LULAC vs Richards lawsuit. The South Texas Border Initiative emerged as a result of this lawsuit which helped promote access to higher education for Mexican Americans in the South Texas region. It is because of this that TAMU-CC has had the opportunity to enhance education for hundreds of other Hispanic and Latinx students across Texas. 

Marquez emphasized the importance of student educational needs, referencing educational scholar Dr. Gina Ann Garcia, “Hispanic serving institutes must acknowledge that they are colonized institutions that have long-operated as white-centered western institutions,” said Marquez. “To decolonize, Hispanic serving institution leaders must recognize that traditional values and approaches to leading post-secondary institutions are grounded in colonization and imperialism, which is why Hispanic students in many respects have not yet reached a level of equitable outcomes.” 

In order to decolonize these institutions Marquez suggested that, “we must be willing to interrogate our practices, and learn the structure and function of our educational institutions… we must find approaches to serve our students beyond just enrollment and graduation. 

“We must utilize a race conscious lens to foster a more hospitable campus environment and racial climate by affirming the races, ethnicities, languages and culture experiences of Latinx and other minority students,” concluded Marquez. 

Marquez also explained that it is no secret that those of Latinx and Hispanic heritage have been recent targets of xenophobic rhetoric and policies installed by higher governmental entities as shown by the separation of families, immigrant children being housed in cages by detention centers, voter intimidation and even “violence by the hands of white supremacists.” 

However, “The history of Latinx peoples is one of resilience and fortitude. We are a community of change makers, those who challenge the status quo, those that speak truth to power even when the powers attempt to silence or censors us…” said Marquez. 

Professional Assistant Professor of English and HHM coordinator, Andrea Montalvo-Hamid also spoke during the kickoff, giving viewers a quick recap of the month’s virtual activities and festivities while explaining the importance of being a member of the Hispanic community. 

“My mother always told me you have to know where you come from to know where you are going, it is vital that we learn about our heritage, historical figures and events to understand our past,” said Montalvo-Hamid. 

Montalvo-Hamid then ended the HHM kickoff with a final remark, “While we do have good food and music and dancing, we are so much more than that. We have contributed to so much more than that. We need to continue taking up space, in spaces that we were not allowed a century ago.” 

For more information on HHM events and activities visit the TAMU-CC HHM webpage.