Filled with music, food, poetry and dance, the “My Latinx is…” event Thursday night created a space to discuss and share experiences of Latinx identity. About 50 students and Ann Arbor residents attended the event in the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library. It was hosted by the University of Michigan’s Latino/a Studies Department, the University Musical Society, Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs, La Casa and the Trotter Multicultural Center.

University alum Christina “LadyFire Tide” Perez moderated the event and shared her own poetry. The featured performer for the night was Omar Aragonés, a Detroit based musician. Silvia Pedraza, professor of Sociology and American Culture, was also present.

One of the participants, LSA sophomore Pilar O’Hara, shared a poem about her experiences with having her name mispronounced and made fun of.

“At home, after school, I asked my mom why she didn’t name me Amy,” O’Hara said. “On the first day of school, before they attempted to say Pilar, ‘Oh, I’m going to butcher this one.’”

Ann Arbor-based dance group Reflejos Latinos also performed, sharing two different types of dances originating from different regions in Latin America.

Kinesiology freshman Moisés Salgado also shared his poetry with the group. Salgado’s poetry utilized the metaphor of a white canvas as a college campus. According to the Office of the Registrar, Latinx undergraduates make up 5.72 percent of the winter 2018 population while white students account for 54.62 percent. Latinx students have been organizing in greater numbers in the last two years around improving the community’s experience on campus—a list of demands sent to adminstrators last winter semester called for more representation in administrative levels and curriculum, more student services for the Latino community and a less hostile campus environment.

“What if I told you that canvas is a campus, a college one on the hand of the United States,” Salgado said. “This same hand makes up the percentage of brown people on this campus, but I would need twelve more of these to show the percentage of white students. Truth is each one of us is a brown splash. If one of us acts as a fool, we will all be critiqued, our place on the canvas is questioned.”

For Aragonés’s performance, he sang a few original songs along with a Pablo Neruda poem that he gave a twist to.

“That was a song I wrote a while ago, almost ten years ago after I lost my father,” Aragonés said. “He was a big inspiration to me.”

LSA senior Yezenia Sandoval, a board member of La Casa, attended the event and encouraged others to also attend.  

“Instead of having a La Casa meeting, we’re having this event,” Sandoval said. “We really wanted to encourage people to come because it’s a great celebration of our culture.”

Toward the end of the event, Perez, Aragonés and Pedraza sat on a panel, shared experiences and asked questions of the audience. Perez thanked the audience for attending and fostering a welcoming Latinx community on campus.

“It’s been so long since I’ve been on campus, it means so much to have everybody here in one room,” Perez said. “To have the sense of community that everyone has created tonight is a really beautiful thing to witness. Thank you for allowing us to share our music and our poetry.”

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