Arts & Culture

Latino Gala to celebrate Latinx identities, cultures

Gala kicks off weekend dedicated to exploring Latinx identities, prompts dialogue in community

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, April 7, 2016

In a celebration of culture, history and identity, the Latino Heritage Series will host the annual Latino Gala through the Brown Center for Students of Color Friday in Sayles Hall.

The theme, “The Beauty of Our Roots: Rewriting the Narrative,” was conceptualized with the intent of empowering Latinx individuals at Brown, exploring Latinx narratives and breaking down perceptions of Latinx identity, said Kiki Tapiero ’17, a Latino Heritage Series co-programmer.

“Given the racism of Donald Trump and growing misconceptions about the Latino community and undocumented immigrants, we want to celebrate what our story is and celebrate people for who they are rather than who people think they are,” Tapiero said. 

As it coincides with the Latinx Conference, the Latino Gala kicks off a weekend dedicated to exploring Latinx identity and cultures. The gala is intended to spark dialogue on these topics, a particularly timely conversation in light of last semester’s incident involving a Department of Public Safety officer and a student visiting for the Latinx Ivy League Conference that resulted in the officer’s termination. The Latino Heritage Series hopes the event will draw both students and visitors to join in the conversation, Tapiero said.

“Especially with what happened last semester when the conference was cancelled, we have had to think carefully about what it means to be Latinx,” Tapiero said. “Because Friday is the first day of the conference, we want the Latino Gala to be thought-provoking in a lighter way.”

Like other Heritage Series events, the gala is “a unifying event to bring both people of Latino background as well as others together as a community to enjoy performances, food and spoken word as a celebration of culture,” Gabrielle Ivellisse Feliciano ’18 said.

This year’s Latino Gala is unique in that it is presented in collaboration with alums and Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority, Inc., a national organization that encourages the academic achievement and advancement of  Latina women, said Anne Marie Ponte, coordinator for co-curricular initiatives at the Brown Center for Students of Color.

The Latino Gala will feature a senior speaker, Rudy Torres ’16, the student dance group Mezcla, the national performance team Grupo Sadón and keynote speaker Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, the first Latina to win statewide office in New England. As a politically influential Latina woman, Gorbea is an ideal speaker for gala, as she is “part of rewriting the narrative,” Tapiero said.