Wellesley Celebrates Latinx Month 2018

Poet Ariana Brown recites poetry before a crowd.
Photo provided by Carolyn Lam ’21
April 27, 2018

Each April, Wellesley celebrates Latinx Month with a variety of performances, lectures, and workshops that highlight and promote an understanding of Latinx culture, heritage, and history.

This year the celebration kicked off April 6 with the Latinx culture show The Dream State, which featured performances from Mariachi de Güelsi and Peruvian dancers from the Veronica Robles Cultural Center, as well as poetry, music, and a fashion show staged by Wellesley students.

“Latinx Month impacts the community by making students feel empowered and validated by sharing their history and diverse cultural backgrounds within and with the Wellesley community,” said Mared Alicea-Westort, assistant dean of intercultural education and advisor to Latinx students and Fusion, Wellesley’s organization for mixed-race students.

On April 20, poet Ariana Brown, who writes about her identity as a Black Mexican American, gave a spoken-word performance. Brown is an Academy of American Poets prizewinner, national collegiate slam champion, and Brave New Voices alumna whose work has been featured by PBS, the Huffington Post, Remezcla, and other media outlets.

Paola Gonzalez ’20, who helped organize events for Latinx month, said out of all the events, Brown’s reading of her poem, “Dear White Girls in my Spanish Class,” impacted her the most. “The poem resonated deeply with me as a bilingual student, with Spanish as my first language,” Gonzalez said. “Hearing [Brown] perform the poem in person was an absolute honor and treasure, and offered me a sense of validation.” 

The month’s events also included an April 12 keynote speech by Cynthia Lopez, former New York City film commissioner, multiple Emmy award winner, and executive producer. Lopez discussed the role of Latinas in the success of social media. She talked about the strengths she brings to her work as one of the few Latina women in leadership role in the media field as well as the challenges she overcame during her journey.  

On April 18, the Davis Museum along with Mezcla, the Wilson Lecture, and the Latinx Advisors Office, co-hosted a tour and lecture led by James Oles, senior lecturer in art, who discussed the museum’s Latin American art collection. That evening, the Latinx alumnae network panel offered current Wellesley students an opportunity to connect with Latinx alumnae from different professional industries. Alumnae shared their experiences, giving the students invaluable advice on navigating both the job market and graduate school. This event was co-sponsored by the Career Education, Spanish Department, and the Treves Fund.

Paola Ramos, Latinx communications strategist and former deputy director of Hispanic media for Hillary Rodham Clinton ’69’s presidential campaign, gave a talk on April 26.

“I hope that the attendees of events this month were able to explore and examine their own cultural biases and stereotypes,” said Alicea-Westort. “These events also provide an opportunity to explore topics of diversity and to promote appreciation and understanding of Latin American cultures while giving students an opportunity for increased interactions between students of many diverse backgrounds."

Still to come is an April 30 talk entitled “Forefront of Immigration Reform,” given by Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Events will culminate on May 1 with a podcast panel co-hosted by Mezcla and WZLY. "Passing the Mic: A Conversation with Tamarindo Podcast and Bag Ladiez" will take place in Pendleton Atrium. Tamarindo address a wide range of Latinx issues relating to politics, pop culture, and media, and is hosted by Brenda Gonzalez, a board member of the Los Angeles Education Partnership, and Melinna Bobadilla, a Chicanx activist, educator, and actor. Bag Ladiez consists of Dominican Afro-Latinx podcast duo Lina and Estephanie who use their "podcast to elevate and bring awareness to [their] experiences as Black Latinx womxn." 

The Latinx Month Planning Committee helped make this year’s Latinx Month activities possible. Members include professors Irene Mata and Petra Rivera-Rideau; staff members Mared Alicea-Westort, Jael Matos, Joy Renjilian-Burgy, and Sandra Murga; and students Sofia Buitrago ’19, Stephanie De Avila ’21, Ana Fernandez ’20, Maria Carrillo Hernandez ’21, Paola Gonzalez ’20, Jacqueline Lopez ’19, Frances Martinez ’19, Marlen Renderos ’21, Allie Van Horn ’19, and Liliana Westort ’18.

With reporting from Lucy Norton ’21.

Photo: Black Mexican American poet Ariana Brown performs a spoken word poem during Latinx Month 2018.