M.E.Ch.A. a force for unity
Luis Huerta, Nicole Medina, Amanda Meza, Marco Rosales | Monday, May 2, 2011
First, I would like to thank Amanda Gray for providing M.E.Ch.A and Latina/os at Notre Dame with a positive portrayal of the work that we do (“Latinos maintain culture on campus,” April 20). I would also like to thank Jessica Lujan for her views in “A Different Way to be Latino” (April 27) — she is right, there are many different ways of expressing our identity. However, I would like to address several incorrect assumptions that she made about our club, “M.E.Ch.A.” Her Viewpoint article essentially denied the existence of a nationwide attack on the Latino population via discriminatory legislation and the anti-immigrant hysteria in our country. Allert Brown Gort argues that today Latinos are often associated with being immigrants, who are equated with being “illegal” and who are then demonized by a society that benefits from their disadvantaged status. I am glad that Miss Lujan was fortunate enough to never experience this type of discrimination, but the truth is that Latina/os are targeted and scapegoated everyday.
M.E.Ch.A., an organization whose members espouse a Chicana/o identity that can be shared by anyone, fights for the empowerment of all people through education, activism and preservation of culture. We challenge ignorance by educating ourselves and the people around us. To say that our organization is exclusionary is contradictory to our message and goals. Perhaps because she has not been involved in M.E.Ch.A., Miss Lujan’s commentary on our organization was misinformed. Throughout the years we have been a vehicle for students to share and maintain their culture on campus. In fact, our efforts to educate and retain Latina/o culture have been recognized by Student Activities as we were recently awarded the Cultural Club of the Year award and Program of the Year for our Diversity Panel. In our chapter, as in most chapters, members include people from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. We encourage all people who share our goals of social justice and equality to participate. At the same time, we are also aware and supportive of the fact that M.E.Ch.A. is not the only way Latina/o students maintain their culture on campus. We recognize that we have a very dissident style of reaching our goals that may not appeal to some students and so there are other Latina/o clubs on campus that we are either members of or we work closely with in cooperative event planning.
While Notre Dame has provided much opportunity for growth and advancement for minority students, there is still ignorance about different lifestyles that often leads to insensitive remarks and offensive incidents. Again, I am happy that some Latina/o students have not experienced this, but these experiences are a reality for many minority students.
Finally, we would like to say that in light of all the work that still needs to be done in support of unity, we encourage all Domers to participate in and become involved with the multicultural clubs here on campus. Our efforts are futile when only our members attend education nights, meetings and other events.
M.E.Ch.A. de Notre Dame