Since 1968, the U.S. government has recognized National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15–October 15. September 15 marks the independence day celebrations for El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence shortly after. Northwestern celebrates during October due to the later start date of the academic year.
Language around this celebration has evolved at Northwestern in recent years, according to assistant director of Multicultural Student Affairs Alejandro Magana. Magana leads planning of Latinx Heritage Month.
“We found that our students at Northwestern felt uncomfortable with Hispanic because of historical colonial ties to Spain,” Magana explained.
Adopting the term Latinx continues the trend of expanding inclusiveness for identities and expressions.
The Spanish language genders many words, with an assigned masculine or feminine pronoun or ‘o’ or ‘a’ at the end of a word.
However, “Individuals have begun to challenge the word because we have folks that are part of the Latina/o community, yet prefer not to be associated with masculine or feminine nouns,” Magana said. “Latinx is a term that allows for our non-binary, genderqueer, gender fluid, and trans* people to feel included.”
Learn through the lenses of politics, activism, and art during October speaker events. A few weeks before the election on October 26, history professor Geraldo Cadava will discuss the significant role of the Latino electorate. Switch gears to politics the following day at a poetry reading with Martin Espada, who will read from his latest collection, "Vivas to Those Who Have Failed."
Norris Center also offers a Spanish Mini Course para enseñar a los estudiantes nuevos español. The course is designed for those with no previous Spanish experience, i.e. those who weren’t sure how to read the above sentence.
Enjoy cuisine from Latin American countries while campus and Chicago music and dance groups perform at Festival LatiNU, the month’s signature event on October 28.