The Latinx Heritage Month assembly last Thursday was an enormous success, filling the Little Theater with energy and enthusiasm. It took place during periods four, five, and six. The main intentions were to share pieces of Latinx art with the Berkeley High School (BHS) community, while providing information about the history and nuances of Latinx culture.
It was organized by the Latinx Unidos club with help from a few teachers. This assembly was one of the many events the Latinx Unidos club has organized to help spread awareness about their culture and also help address the current issues within the community as a whole.
Members of the club thought the assembly was outstanding, including Abril Fonseca, a senior in Berkeley International High School (BIHS), who said, “I thought it was great honestly … we had a lot of support from our members within the club, as well as people who weren’t even in the club.” Fonseca’s comment describes a crucial aspect of the assembly’s atmosphere: the passionate support from the students and faculty alike that attended it. When asked about how the students did, science teacher Claudia Gonzales, who helped to create and run the assembly said, “They pulled it off, they performed their hearts out, people who were not sure if they could do it managed to go out and do it. I was really proud of them.”
One noticeable feature of the assembly was the unprecedented blending of cultures. There were flags of Spanish-speaking and Latin American countries throughout the room, exemplifying the inclusion of all people who identify as Latinx. The first group of artists at the assembly incorporated Afro-Peruvian, Puerto Rican, and Cuban music into their performance. On this aspect of the assembly, Gonzales said, “It was a huge focus for us, Latinx heritage is about all the countries that celebrate their independence during that month … we wanted to really highlight all of the different cultures we have on our campus.”
Although they emphasized the importance of bringing different cultures together, the club also accentuated the difference between identity terms that often cause confusion in regards to Latinx people. Chicanx refers to people of Mexican descent, whereas Hispanic refers to people from Spanish-speaking countries. Latinx is a newer term, aimed to include all genders. When asked about the importance of these identity terms, and specifically the term Latinx, Fonseca said, “It’s not a traditional word, my parents wouldn’t use that word … but it’s important and it’s something that we are incorporating in our culture a lot, and it’s important to recognize it, use it, and bring awareness to it.”
Perhaps the most touching part of the assembly was the incredible student-crafted artwork including two dance performances and a spoken word piece created by Fonseca and Emily Valdivia, a senior in BIHS. One of the dance performances was traditional, and the other depicted club members solemnly sitting on the ground, with an aluminum foil blanket over them, as a graceful dance was performed in the foreground.
When asked about the importance of the artistic portion of the assembly, Fonseca said, “I think using art is very important because a lot of times our words can’t change people’s ideas or opinions … but art can show a lot of what we can’t speak about.” They delivered a message that they couldn’t have described through a slideshow or a speech.
When talking about Valdivia and Fonseca’s spoken word performance, Gonzalez said, “I thought having a piece about immigration and everything that’s going on at the border was beautiful, especially in this current political climate
… it’s really about the struggle our people are going through.”
As Latinx Unidos continues to help the community, whether its giving aid to the homeless students at BHS, or spreading awareness and art from their culture, there are a few things you can do to help the club out, even if you don’t identify as Latinx. You can come to support the club at assemblies and events or buy the products and food from these events that helps to raise money for their club.
These small actions will help the Latinx Unidos Club prevail in its goal to strengthen the Latinx community as well as BHS as a whole.