By DONOVAN HARRELL
This is the third year Pitt has celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, and the first year its programming will be all virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, recognizes historical and cultural contributions from the “Hispanic” or “Latinx” diaspora, encompassing more than 20 countries in Latin America, roughly 18 percent of the U.S. population and more, according to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
The starting date for the month-long celebration coincides with a larger celebration by several Latin American countries that celebrate their independence days on Sept. 15 and Sept. 16.
Gina Garcia, an associate professor in the School of Education, chaired the committee that coordinated the events. Multiple Pitt organizations, departments and schools have worked together to develop programming, including the Hispanic Latinx Professional Association, Latin American Graduate Organization of Students, Center for Latin American Studies, Student Affairs, Hillman Library, and the School of Education.
Garcia described the event as a grassroots effort among these and other organizations. She said that at first, she wasn’t sure what the celebration would look like this year because of the pandemic.
“We like to be together,” Garcia said. “We’re a culture of people that like to dance and hug and eat food and things that we’re not allowed to do right now.”
However, some of the scheduled virtual events, she said, will still include salsa dancing and cooking. The opening event, “What does it mean to be Hispanic/Latina/e/o/x in the United States?,” will include remarks from Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Clyde Wilson Pickett.
Additionally, Garcia said there was an intentional effort to make sure people who identify as Afro-Latino were represented in each panel discussion.
“Because we just want to make sure we’re not erasing that really important experience,” Garcia said. “It gets erased in the Latino umbrella often.”
This year’s celebration will include the Hispanic Heritage Month Artifact Showcase, where Pitt and the surrounding Pittsburgh community are invited to submit “artifacts” relevant to Hispanic or Latinx heritage.
Examples of these artifacts include poems, songs, dance, recipes, art, photos and souvenirs. Submissions are not limited to these formats. Artifacts will be displayed online through University websites and social media throughout the month.
To register for events and find out more information, visit the Office of Diversity and Inclusion website. Events will be added until Sept. 15, so check back often. Information on the online links for each event will be sent to those who register.
Current scheduled events include:
Sept. 15 - Oct. 15: Hispanic Latinx Professional Association Speed Networking Series
Noon-1:30 p.m. Sept. 16: What does it mean to be Hispanic/Latina/e/o/x in the United States?
6-7 p.m. Sept. 17: Virtual Latin Dance Workshop
Noon-1:30 p.m. Sept. 22: Hispanic Discussion Round Tables
Noon-1:30 p.m. Sept. 25: COVID-19: The Pittsburgh Latinx community experience & response
3-4:30 p.m. Sept. 29: Being Latinx in Academia: Navigation, Support, and Mentoring of Graduate Students and Faculty
6-7 p.m. Sept. 30: Present and Represented: Latinx Mental Health Research, Practice, and Experience in Pittsburgh
3:30-5 p.m. Sept. 30: RICE & ... Series: Rice and Beans — a Continental Classic
1-2:30 p.m. Oct. 2: Transnational Dialogues in Afrolatinidad: Migration, Policing and Political Movements webinar
6 p.m. Oct. 2: Celebration of Flavors
1-2:30 p.m. Oct. 8: Archiving and Preservation Workshop for Hispanic Heritage Month
10:30-11:30 a.m. Oct. 9: Emerging Latinx Communities Group
Noon-1 p.m. Oct. 15: Developmental Brown Bag: Josi Bañales; assistant professor of Psychology
Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-383-9905.
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