“Culture, the differences and similarities that we have, pride and courage and empowerment,” were all featured at Wednesday’s Latinx Monologues, said Emilio Rivera, a senior public health science major.
The Political Latinx United for Movement and Action in Society (PLUMAS) hosted their fourth annual Latinx Monologues Sept. 21. The show was part of a series of month-long events in honor of Latinx Heritage Month.
The Office of Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy (MICA) promotes the commemorative month, but each individual event is sponsored or hosted by individual or multiple groups, all in the name of celebrating and spreading Latinx heritage to the university community.
Performances ranged from spoken-word, poetry, rap, dance, song and instrumentals. Many performers spoke about their country’s history, the nostalgia for their home country and the struggle of having multiple racial identities or being Latinx in America.
Co-emcee and Vice President of PLUMAS Jessica Nolasco, senior hearing and speech sciences major, said the reason why the monologues is such an important event is because people can express themselves and create a sense of community.
“Well, I feel like on campus a lot of Latinx’s have different identities so the monologues is a safe space for us to talk about our identities, talk about our experiences as Latinos, Latinas on campus … and find others like us,” Nolasco said.
Josephine Vallejo, freshman secondary science education major, sang a melody of three songs with her ukulele in Spanish and Quechua. She said her mother sang them to her in Spanish when she was little, while her father sang them in Quechua–a native South American language primarily spoken in the Andes.
Jocelyn Nolasco, sophomore government and politics major, presented a poem about her El Salvadoran roots and how they conflict with her life in the U.S.
Nolasco started off with a phrase used by beloved Latina singer Selena, “Yo soy mucha excited.” She said she uses the saying frequently because like the phrase, she is lost in translation, torn between El Salvador and the country she now lives in that was founded by white colonists.
She went on to discuss the perception of Latina women and how they’re seen as “spicy” and how most people think of Shakira or J.Lo when they think of Latina women.
“Yes, our hips don’t lie, but neither do our brains,” she said.
Featured spoken word poet Melissa Lozada-Oliva, National Poetry Slam champion in 2015, showcased several of her poems, including some from her book Poems about Jessica Jones.
Lozada-Oliva spoke about being a woman, speaking Spanish and how one time, a black thong was stuck to her pants and fell on the floor of a potential employer, a metaphor for leaving your heart to the corporate world.
One of her poems was about her Guatemalan grandmother surviving the zombie apocalypse. She spoke,“You are warrior Abuelita, the shorter, more wrinkled version of Rick Grimes, you are centuries of back-breaking labor, the pain in your knees, the corn crumbs you turned into meals for your family, you’re forever your mother’s disappointed face, the night you gathered your three children and ran away from a man who stopped reaching for your hips and started reaching for his beer, his belt…”
The audience enjoyed not only the performances and keynote speaker, but also the Argentine food provided and the culture shared.
”I came out tonight because … I’m a graduating senior, so as Latino I wanted to represent and come for the last time,” Rivera said. “I haven’t been in touch with my Hispanic roots, so that was another thing. I wanted to see what UMD’s latino community has to offer.”
Featured Photo Credit: Freshmen Lidia Hernandez, biology major, and Joelle Latorre, hearing and speech major, pose with flags at the Latinx Heritage Month Opening in Stamp’s Colony Ballroom, on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. (Emilie Fluette/Bloc Photographer)
Allie Melton is a junior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.