As Latinx Heritage Month creeps forward, I sit back and reflect about what it truly means to be Latinx at an institution where it’s easy to feel alienated by those around you. I am not alone in my experience, yet, it sometimes feels like I am.
First off, my identity intersects with two severely different cultures: Colombian and Mexican, which has made my heritage even more confusing. At one end of the spectrum, there are a vast amount of different areas in Mexico as Mexico is 1.7 times bigger than Colombia. Yes, 1.7. Mexico also shares a border with the U.S., which has always made it more accessible and relatable as I grew up. When I was finally able to travel to Colombia, I learned about the beauty of the mountains, the different kinds of food and how intense the driving is.
Besides, Central American culture and lingo varies greatly from country to country and from South America. In a way, many other Latinx students on campus understand the diversity of having these combining ethnicities. Another thing for me is that I struggle with actually knowing my ethnicity, especially when filling out census forms. I’m sure I am not the only one who has struggled with this before.
The unfortunate part of having intersecting identities is that one thing remains the same — discriminatory comments always get back to me. Whether it be a snarky comment about how my “English is very good,” “Did you just get back from jumping the border?” or asking if I know Pablo Escobar, these comments have delegitimized my identity for a long time. This all used to really eat at my insecurities, but now, I feel the most sure of my identity than ever before.
Regardless, I knew applying to NC State would be something new for me. I grew up in these very white spaces, so this wouldn’t be too difficult to adjust to. Even though NC State commends itself on diversity, the school is predominantly white. I was ecstatic when I received my acceptance letter, but I hoped I wasn’t a diversity choice.
Speaking of diversity, a past column actually called out NC State for its lack of diversity and how NC State’s graphs are misleading. This piece was from 2019, and things have looked up for diversity, but the discourse remains the same. The column showed that NC State overrepresented their diversity statistics and there were severe statistics issues. While this isn’t surprising of NC State, that’s for another time.
Being Latinx is one of the most unique things you could be. As you continue to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month, make sure you engage with the Latinx organizations on campus. From Juntos to the Latin American Student Association to the various support groups on campus, there are many groups to talk to about your Latinx experience.