The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday May 19th

CHispA opens conversation on ethnicity and race

CHispA encouraged students to discuss ethnicity, race and demographics in the Latinx community through speakers and open forum Thursday. 

Paola Gilliam, co-president of CHispA, has been a part of the club for four years and says she has been thinking a lot about the meaning of identity. 

“We thought that starting the school year off discussing race, what is ethnicity and what it means to be Latinx might put us on a better track for the school year and let people to start thinking about what it means to them in the beginning,” Gilliam said. 

The purpose of the event “Race, Ethnicity and Latinidad” was to establish a place for people to talk and interact with others without having to adhere to the stereotypes and expectations of the Latinx community, said Gaby Alemán, co-president of CHispA.

“In planning this event we came together with our leadership and were like what are the most pressing matters and interesting topics that people really want to know more about, and the first one that kind of came up was race and ethnicity,” she said. 

Alemán said she and Gilliam looked at the general body meeting structure they had last year and found that the organization was a little sporadic. She said they want to make body meeting structure more consistent throughout the year. 

“We are really focusing on partnering with grad students and professors and faculty,” Alemán said. “As CHispA, an undergraduate organization, we focus a lot on that demographic, but if we really wanted to hold ourselves in being acceptable for all Latina/o community we have to include other people at this university and other people within the community.” 

María Durán, a speaker at the event, said that the majority of the students at the event felt frustrated when asked about their overall thoughts and feelings about being a part of the Latinx community. She said those who consider themselves Latinx are irritated by the boxes that must be filled out on official documents concerning ethnicity and race. 

“When looking at the census they are literally putting us in boxes,” she said. “So what we’re doing today in is looking outside of the box and thinking of the box as more of a fluent entity.” 

Durán said that there were more ethnic and racial categories added in 1970 census. She said that from 1930 to 1970, there was only the option of Mexican, which says a lot about the landscape of ethnic identification in the United States.

“Demographics are very important for different disciplines, especially when we think about the media and the construction of identity that’s formed outside, not within our community, but outside of our community,” Durán said. 

The other speaker, Geovani Ramírez, at the event, said there are many differences in Latinas/os and that there isn’t a stable latina/o identity. 

“[Community members] all are making that happen,” he said. “You are creating new Latina/o identities.” 

First year Irma Gutierrez said she wanted to become part of the Hispanic community at UNC by getting involved with CHispA. 

“Since it’s my first year," Gutierrez said. "I want to have a group of people that I can connect with and feel comfortable around."

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