Photobooth Extravaganza: La Vanguardia Celebrates Latinx Heritage Month

By Madeleine Cerone

When I walked inside the DMC on September 15th, 2023, a huge, red backdrop at the entrance to the DMC library caught my eye. “LHM”, to signify Latinx Heritage Month, hung at the top in shiny, gold balloon letters and on the opposite wall there were several trays of empanadas. Soon the DMC was full with students unraveling their countries’ flags, waiting for their turn at the brightly colored photo-booth. It was the first day of Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month, and everyone was there to celebrate all the different Latin and Hispanic identities on campus and their respective roots. 

La Vanguardia, commonly referred to as LV, is Hamilton’s Latinx and Hispanic heritage student organization. LV organized this gathering as a photobooth party, where students could take pictures with the flag of their country or territory. The International Cultural Association (ICA) lent flags from several South American countries and Hispanic territories in order to make this possible. Students with ties to the Dominican Republic, Panama, Paraguay, Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil and others held their flags over their heads, used them as capes, and held them with pride as they posed for polaroid pictures. After the polaroids developed each guest had a physical memory of their heritage to take home with them! 

Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month starts in the middle of the month because on September 15th, 1821, five Latin American nationalities declared independence from Spain. These countries include El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Several other places celebrate their independence during this week, including Mexico, Chile, and Belize. Now, all Spanish speaking and Latin countries celebrate their cultures during the one month period between September 15th and October 15th.

The term “Latinx”, however, is relatively new. According to Colorado State University (CSU), this term was first used online around 2004, but it has gained popularity in recent years. It has been defined as a gender-neutral alternative to the feminine word Latina or masculine word Latino (elcentro.colostate.edu). The “x” functions as a neutralizer for terms that are otherwise gender-binary in the Spanish language. This reminds me of how people in the US use pronouns like “they” and “them” to describe someone who is gender-non-conforming, or non-binary.

Students ate beef, cheese, chicken, and veggie empanadas from El Barajo while music by Shakira and other Latin American artists played from the speakers. The beef empanadas were especially delicious! Some members of LV posed together with their friends in front of the beautiful red backdrop, and unfamiliar faces were able to introduce themselves to the DMC and the Latinx community. The DMC continues to act as a space where all different communities can come together to learn about others’ identities, and have fun doing it!

Thank you to La Vanguardia, the Latinx Heritage Month Committee, the DMC and ICA for helping to make this event possible!

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Koboul E. Mansour, Ph.D

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