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A different way to be Latino

N. Jessica Lujan | Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The article in The Observer (“Latino students maintain culture on campus,” April 20) portrayed Latinos as a victimized group and implied that MEChA is the way Latino students maintain culture on campus. I share a background with the students in this article — I was an immigrant, am a native Spanish speaker, a first generation college student, etc. etc. — but I want to emphasize that I do not share the same view.

MEChA isn’t the only way Latino culture is promoted on campus. MEChA is a national Chicano movement whose motto is, “For the race, everything; outside the race, nothing.” First, not all Latinos on campus identify themselves as Chicanos because it is not an ethnicity but rather a culture. Second, the identity that MEChA dismantles on my culture is one of victimization and oppression. Last, I don’t agree that I have to fight to preserve my culture, but rather, I need to make those around me fall in love with it.

According to the article, as a Latina I should be fighting. Who am I fighting against? The growth of Latino representation in the school and the Catholic Church, as was mentioned by Aller Brown-Gort, is proof that Latinos are being recognized as capable and active participants in the academic world and in American society as a whole (Spanish Mass is filled by Caucasian students, even more so than by Hispanics). For the most part, educated academics and politicians recognize how beautiful, exotic and rich our culture is.

We promote our culture through language, art, folklore, compassion and not only MEChA. Our identity is marred by placing ourselves in an exclusive, single-minded group. We should have a more utilitarian and progressive approach to being Latino that does not create barriers with those around us or view them as hostile buffoons we need to fight.

Ignorance is a problem, but we need to be teaching correctly, not generalizing based on the opinions of a few. I want to thank Notre Dame for the opportunity to be here. I have always felt at home and never isolated, encouraged to share my perspective and culture as a Latina.

N. Jessica Lujan


off campus

April 20