Latinx studies lectures reminisces on the past

Whitney Mason

Ginetta Candelario began her lecture to on Latinx studies, dedicating the lecture to influential people throughout her life.

The first was her former mentor and graduate school professor, Juan Flores, who Candelario said who would have celebrated his seventy-fourth birthday on September 29. However, Flores passed away suddenly while giving a talk at Duke University on December 2, 2014.

Candelario also dedicated her lecture to the thirty-four victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last week, the three hundred and sixty-nine victims of the earthquake that hit central Mexico and who she called “countless, unnamed and unrecognized victims and heroes” Latinos in Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida last month.

Candelario said that Hispanic Heritage Month takes place mid-September to mid-October during the time in which Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas, roughly on Oct. 12, 1492.

Candelario said that two hundred years ago in the months of September and October, wars for independence began in Spanish America in the 1810s.

“Simply stated, Latinos in the United States were a part of a five hundred plus year legacy in the Americas,” Candelario said. “It has profoundly shaped this nation.”

Candelario said that immigration and migration from Latin American and Hispanic Caribbean to the United States mainland are indirect and direct results of United States intervention and history in the region.

“U.S. imperialism and colonialism has been and continues to be a triggering factor in the massive immigration from almost every single country south of the Rio Grande to the U.S. mainland,” Candelario said.

Candelario said that the reason why Latinos are in the United States is because the United States was there in their countries.

Candelario said by 1960 the Hispanic population in the United States was only a little over six million, but nearly sixty years later the Hispanic population stands at eighteen percent.

“Latinos are represented in every state of the union,” Candelario said.

Candelario said that the national origins ended up diversifying. In the 1930s through the 1980s, origins other than Mexico doubled, with the Puerto Rican origins coming in second behind Mexican origins.

Candelario said according to 2012 Census that forty-nine percent of Latino students were enrolled in higher education, which surpassed the rates of Whites and African-Americans.

In 1968, the first Chicano studies department was established at California State University in Los Angeles.

Candelario said it came about after vigorous demands and strikes by the United Mexican-American Students Group.

Following the first conference dedicated to Chicano studies in 1969, other institutions established their own Chicano studies programs.

“By 1984, 19 Chicano studies programs had been founded in the UC and Cal State systems,” Candelario said. 

Candelario spoke of how in April 1969, black and Puerto Rican students took over and walled in the south campus of City College of New York and closed the university in demand of the board of trustees to demand to establish a school of black and Puerto Rican studies.

“In 1969, they vowed to bring the services of the university to the community,” Candelario said.

Candelario said that the transnational Latino studies has a complexity of its own since it covers not just the Hispanic heritage but other ethnic and areas of studies like gender, feminist and political studies.

“We in Latino studies are always looking back to the future,” Candelario said.

When asked, Candelario explained how the term Latinx came into usage. Candelario said the term is about five to ten years old and it is a product of the conversations between Queer studies and Queer theories.

“Latin@ studies scholarship that has played a central role in Queer studies,” Candelario said.

Candelario said the term is an attempt to address the problem of gender in the Spanish language.

“There’s gender to everything,” Candelario said.

Candelario said that Queer theorists have tried to move past the binary associated with gender in the Spanish language.

Candelario admits that her experience with the new term is complicated. Candelario said that the idea is to not cause the gender experience to disappear, even when the experience, in particular feminism, hadn’t been addressed.

To Candelario, the American dream, something that everyone tries to achieve isn’t just a dream only dreamt about in English, it very much well applies to Spanish as well.