On Monday, September 16, 2019, TCU Latina/o Studies Program, in conjunction with the Department of Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES) and our students and community members, celebrated the beginning of Latinx Heritage Month with food, fun, and friends.
North Side High Mariachi Band made an appearance along with other community organizations such as Artes de la Rosa, El Voto es Latino, My Brother’s Keeper, United Fort Worth, Lambda Theta Phi, Chi Upsilon Sigma, La Mesa Hispánica, United Latino Association, Hispanic Alumni Association, RAICES, and more! Dr. Santiago Piñon, Associate Professor of Religion and Director of the Latina/o Studies Program on campus, reflected on the importance of Latinx Heritage Month:
Still Here: A Reflection for Hispanic Heritage Month
by Santiago Piñon, Ph.D.
We take pride in who we are. Regardless of our differences; differences of culture, music, food, etc., we have one thing in common: We are still here.
The white European arrived on this continent and called it a new world, even though our ancestors have lived here for centuries before they arrived. They enslaved our ancestors, along with our African brothers and sisters, and worked them to death. Yet, we are still here.
By force, they took land that did not belong to them. They set up fences, drew maps with borders, and built walls to keep us out of the land where our ancestors resided. Yet, we are still here.
Crossing an entire ocean, the white European tried to make us feel like foreigners in our own land. And, they called us wetbacks because some of our brothers and sisters crossed a river. Ruthless gangs were organized to travel throughout the land and kill innocent men and women. The murders were justified by placing a badge on their chest and then named the bloodthirsty gang Texas Rangers. Yet, we are still here.
When our ancestors were too many to kill, they became scapegoats during the Great Depression as they were blamed for the loss of jobs and made the case that Mexican Americans took jobs away. Again, a legal system was used to justify the removal of over one million Mexican Americans in the 1930s and called it the Mexican Repatriation Act. Yet, we are still here.
When there was a shortage of laborers during WWII our ancestors were recruited to toil in the fields, work in the factories. Their sweat and blood helped the white European become wealthy. When our ancestor’s backs were no longer needed, again, in 1954 a legal system known as Operation Wetback, which forcibly removed hundreds of thousands of Latinos/as, including many who were legal citizens of this country. Yet, we are still here.
The white European took note that our ancestors endured. So, a new approach was used. Rather than trying to get rid of the Latino/a, a forced assimilation was attempted by making us ashamed of who we are. They shamed us for speaking English with an accent and ridiculed us when we spoke in Spanish. Some of us believed the lie that we would gain equality and finally belong if we only turned our back on our ancestors. But, it did not take long for us to realize that regardless of how much we assimilate, or that many of us no longer know Spanish, we are still second class citizens. They tried to get rid of us by trying to destroy our culture. Yet, estamos aqui todavia.
A complete disregard of our humanity was publicly displayed by throwing paper towels at our Caribbean brothers and sisters. Even a hurricane was not powerful enough to get rid of us, because, we are still here.
To many, there is no difference between the undocumented and the documented because all of us look the same. Many white Europeans call us animals, vermin, and an infestation. They tell us to go back home, forgetting that our ancestors walked and roamed this land long before the white European arrived. Upset with our strength and endurance they turn to their automatic weapons to kill us simply because of who we are. Yet, like our ancestors, we are still here.
We celebrate our heritage because we know who we are. Like our ancestors, we are a proud people. Like our ancestors, we endure. Like our ancestors, we endure. Like our ancestors, we are still here.
For more information on the Latina/o Studies Program, please visit: https://sis.tcu.edu/cres/academics/areas-of-study/latina-o-studies/