If you went to last week’s club fair, it’s likely that you noticed the unrivaled enthusiasm of the Latinx Unidos club cutting through the cacophony and commotion of the event. They stood out amongst dozens of other clubs with their music and cheerful members. The Latinx Unidos club, is a place where those who identify as Latinx can come together. It holds events involving the Latinx community as well as other communities that faced systemic setbacks. However, its goals are made primarily with those who identify as Latinx in mind. The term ‘Latinx’ is more inclusive than Latino or Latina, and generally encompasses all people of Latin American descent, regardless of gender. The club has roughly seventy members, and they meet every Wednesday after school, always hard at work on the issues at hand.
The club’s primary way to promote change is fundraising. One major goal of the club is to provide funding to help the homeless population within Berkeley High School (BHS). Club member and BHS senior Alexandra Puga said, “Although we don’t always realize it, there’s a lot of homeless students at our school.” They typically help to raise money for the Latinx graduation, but this year the club has decided to dedicate their funds to helping those involved in the pressing issues currently taking place at the US-Mexico border. “We will be trying to partner with organizations that give basic necessities to Latinx people trying to pass the Mexico border,” Puga said. They plan to work with organizations such as Border Angels, who help to restore the basic human rights taken from the Latinx migrants seeking asylum.
Another thing they focus on is the process of applying to college, which can be less accessible for members of the Latinx community due to systemic roadblocks that work to white students’ advantage. Alejandro Menjivar, a junior grader in Latinx Unidos said, “We aim to provide the families of Latino students with college workshops that are accessible to them.” The Latinx Unidos club remains ambitious in its attempts to help solve both local issues within our community and international issues.
On top of the club’s regular efforts to make positive change, it also has a personal effect on those who participate in it. When asked about what the club means to her, senior Alana Rondoy said: “It has grown into a big part of who I am. As a new student coming into such a big school like ours, it could feel very overwhelming and scary. But when I went to the club meetings I always felt welcome and it became a safe space for me to be who I am.” Her experience with the club shows a way that being part of this community has allowed for its members to thrive. “It gives me hope,” said Puga. Menjivar shared how the club has helped him meet students that he can relate to: “The club has helped me connect with other people who share the same background as me but also allows me to gain a new perspective on the various cultures and ethnicities within the Latinx community.”
Members of the club have shared that they changed their name from Chicano Latino United Voices (CLUV) because they felt like it wasn’t targeted towards all types of people with Latin American backgrounds. Being Latino can look and mean so many things; from Latinos with African descent, to Latinos with indigenous descent, the spectrum is wide and they want their club to include everything in it. The support that this club provides to people through their local and larger community is something they are proud of.
Many Latinx people have experienced systemic or social biases because of their race or ethnicity. “I think there could be more of an effort to promote inclusivity in all sectors and more resources for Spanish speaking families. I also don’t see much Latino representation in teachers as a whole,” says Menjivar, relating larger national issues to the environment at BHS.
While BHS prides itself in its diversity, there have been questions about certain tensions throughout the school. It has been noted that, historically, certain smaller learning communities have different demographics. Puga said: “There definitely are more students of color in some of the small schools … and that is, in a way, separating people from different opportunities.” She, along with other Latinx students, believes that they are not always given the same opportunities based on the subtle segregation that goes on within BHS and across the nation. Seeing how the current US president and other people with power refer to and treat Latinx people can be frightening and make people feel unwelcome in their own country. For this reason, having a united community, like Latinx Unidos, that they can feel safe in is important.
Ideally, the threatening and excluding feelings could be lessened by both the BHS administration and the students. The Latinx Unidos club reached out to the BHS community on September 19 with their Kickoff Event, selling traditional Latin American food to raise money for homeless students in our school and to also “promote our club and provide people with authentic food from the community”, according to Menjivar.
Another way you can show your support is by going to the assembly on October 10, which will give information and history on Latinx heritage month. “I think it is important that teachers make it a priority to make it to that assembly,” said Puga.
On top of this, you can come to the weekly meetings held after school on Wednesdays in room G-203. Participating in these events can provide support to the Latinx Unidos club as they achieve their goals of helping people at BHS, and those in the broader Latinx community.