Cultural appreciation, not appropriation

By Samantha Holm | Arts & Culture Editor

From the left: Edwige Rasimuka and Biridiana Diaz Ceballos celebrating at the Hispanic Heritage Month Fiesta, Multipurpose Hall, HUB, Whitworth University, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Spokane, Wash. / Adegbesan Dolapo

National Hispanic Heritage Month is a 30-day (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) celebration that commemorates the anniversary of independence for several Latin American countries.

An informational webpage about the holiday reports that Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua won independence from Spain on Sept. 15, 1821. Mexico and Chile followed shortly after on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively. On Oct. 12, Spanish-speaking communities recognize the fusion of indigenous American and Spanish heritage in a celebration called Día de la Raza.

On Sept. 30, 2022, Whitworth’s Heritage of Latino Americans (HOLA) Club and ASWU held a fiesta in the Hixson Union Building Multipurpose Room (HUB MPR) to honor this monumental holiday with food, song and dance, and education about Hispanic culture.

“I think it’s very important to educate our community because. . . the culture of Hispanics isn’t as well-interpreted or well-known,” said HOLA Club Vice President Biri Diaz.

Though a primary goal of the event was to educate, it also sought to share a bit of Hispanic culture with the broader Whitworth community.

“We have the Whitworth community, but in that community, we have certain groups,” said ASWU Cultural Events Coordinator Jessica Lopez-Ramirez. “It’s important to understand each other so that we as the Whitworth community can get along and get things done.”

While reflecting on her experience as Cultural Events Coordinator for two years and HOLA Club’s Treasurer for one, Lopez-Ramirez added, “I always love to see people that don’t identify as Hispanic coming in [to participate in and learn about Hispanic culture].”

Students of all backgrounds lined up outside the HUB to order authentic Mexican cuisine from Tacos Tumbras, a local Spokane taco truck that catered for the event. HOLA Club handed out tickets for free food to the first 175 students in attendance. Inside, the MPR was adorned with festive decorations and illuminated by multi-colored lights. Students took on the dance floor as DJ Toucan played popular Spanish songs.

First-year Chin Michiosy spoke highly of the event, saying, “It definitely opened up more exposure for the Latino community because it’s pretty diverse.”

Students of Hispanic heritage noted that the event provided a sense of belonging for them.

“My parents are immigrants from Mexico,” said attendee Deida Cortez, a junior. “[This event] gives me the chance to see all these people that can relate to me in so many ways.”

Senior Mitzy Vera echoed the sentiment of sharing Hispanic culture with others, saying, “I think for people who come, it’s more cultural appreciation instead of appropriation, as long as they’re appreciating it and enjoying it.”

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