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Student group event delves in Latina/o identity issue

It's not something that's talked about a lot. But for the Latino students at UNC, it's something that's felt everyday. 

The Carolina Hispanic Association (CHispA) and Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., hosted 50 Shades of Latinidad, an interactive discussion that raised questions about Latina/o identity in America.

The groups focused on the relationship between skin color and identity.

“We would like to create awareness of the importance of the diversity within our own ethnicity. People would think we’re just defined by a certain color, but we have different backgrounds and those backgrounds are reflected in our physical appearance,” said senior Laura Brache, CHispA Hispanic Heritage Month co-chairwoman.

The representatives encouraged small-group discussion in a “fishbowl” setting. After posing questions to the whole group, those interested moved to the discussion space in the middle of the large group to speak about the issue.

Senior Salomon Pinargote approached the topic of self-identification in a multi-racial society.

“Really, it’s up to the person to decide what they want to be. That is something that is socially constructed, it doesn’t really exist,” Pinargote said. “You don’t have to pick because there is no definition for being American.”

The blending of races, the group established, is apparent in American society.

“Without assimilation, you wouldn’t have culture in America. I think there’s something so unique with what we find in this culture,” said Amos Fung, a junior in the Carolina Latina/o Collaborative.

The event also raised awareness about what is being taught about Latino/a culture in classroom settings. The problem, the group said, is that Spanish classes often teach exclusively about Mexico and Spain.

“I feel like it’s very stagnant,” said junior Raeven Henry, CHispA Hispanic Heritage Month co-chairwoman. “There are so many types of Latinos out there that you can’t just talk about one culture.”

The Carolina Latina/o Collaborative brings together students, faculty, staff and members of the community to raise awareness of Latina/o issues affecting the campus community. 50 Shades of Latinidad is one of 28 events the collaborative is hosting to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

Senior Carla Salas is involved with both the Carolina Latina/o Collaborative and Omega Beta Phi Sorority, Inc and said the issue of identity and Latina/o perception isn't extremely well-known.

“This is something that’s very apparent but isn’t talked about, and this event did a good job about talking about it. There were various points of view, but we were still able to have a good discussion,” she said.

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