Latinx Festival 2017

The Adelante club members and Santa Monica College students participated in musicial chiar during the Latino Festival hosted by the Adelante Club on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at Santa Monica College main quad in Santa Monica, Calif. (Ethan Chuang)

Summer weather, with the right amount of spring breeze, made the perfect backdrop for the Latinx Festival, held on Thursday, May 11. Fresh food and other cultural attractions brought dozens of curious students to the quad.

Many speakers, as well as the festival’s official title, used the term “Latinx”– a more gender-neutral term for the Latin American community (as opposed to Latino/Latina.)

Spearheaded by the Adelante Club, a Latin American student group at Santa Monica College, the festival was funded by the Associated Students. After the free food was handed out, all attention turned to Ricardo Monterrubio, the president of Adelante, who announced their goal, “to bring about cultural awareness, unity for the Latino community and celebrate SMC’s diversity,” at Thursday’s festival.

Guest speaker Professor Rebecca Rono from the Sociology Department gave a heartfelt speech about cultural awareness and how it applies to every human being. “Latinx cultures are very diverse… with different customs that are practiced. There’s also a diversity of languages that are spoken with a lot of different dialects,” Rono said.

Rono explained that the Latin American world is not one, but many diverse cultures. “In the United States, Latinx people get lumped into the same category. We are often subjected to the process of cultural erasure to our differences in school, media, and also at work.” She concluded that students could keep the culture alive by learning about their own history and continuing to share that information with the next generation.

Professor Ricardo Garcia, who plans to teach Mexican history as well as the history of colonialism in Latin America in the upcoming fall semester, was all business after participating in a juggling competition.

“We see languages as groups of dialect. In every country, one of these dialects is raised and that becomes the dominant dialect. Based on the dominant culture, it can have negative consequences such as Latinx students who grow up speaking their own dialects… and so people just think ‘oh he’s speaking incorrectly.’ However, for you guys, you have to code switch in the university and speak the dominant dialect otherwise you’ll get corrected,” Garcia said.

As the flags of each Latin American nation flew above tables with collections of cultural ancestry artifacts, Garcia continued. “Just keep in mind your way of speaking at home, if you speak ‘Spanglish,’ if you speak African American vernacular [or] English at home, it’s not incorrect – it has its own rules. Because all languages are groups of dialects but for purposes of printing, writing, and hegemony, a certain dialect is raised,” he told the crowd.

In addition to food and decorations, there were also resource booths to assist undocumented students with financial aid. Undocumented students can reach out to the Adelante program to be informed of any opportunities that are available to lessen the financial weight on their shoulders.

After the brief history lesson from Monterrubio, the Latinx Festival concluded with a closing speech and a game of musical chairs — showing that the Latin American culture is more than just a good plate of food.