Nuestra Historia Month

Cesar Chavez Cultural Center

CCCC holding events, exploring stories and histories

Coming from a family that spent long days in a field picking produce, Magali Sanchez would go into a store to buy a drink, covered in mud as people stared at her. The stares she received left her embarrassed of her indigenous and migrant background.

There was a time in her life where she did not want to translate English for her parents, go into stores with dirt on her clothes or go in the sun because she did not want her skin to become darker.

She felt ashamed for being different—she wanted to keep her Latina identity hidden.

Sanchez has gone through various stages to accept her identity and her culture and now serves as the student leadership liaison for the Centro Cultural Cesar Chavez (CCCC). She hopes students will be willing to learn more about Latino culture as the CCCC holds its tribute month with the theme of “Nuestra Historia,” which translates to “Our History.” It is intended to educate students about Latino heritage, and for other students from a similar background to embrace it.

“Why should I be ashamed of who I am when our culture is so beautiful? We have so many things we should be proud of,” Sanchez said. “I’m proud to be indigenous and Mexicana.”

The events throughout the month will attempt to bring people together and educate those inside and out of the Latino community, according to Student Success Peer Facilitator Nancy León.

The “Nuestra Historia: History Timeline” is tonight at 5:30 p.m. and is meant to explore the deep history of Latin America from 800 BCE to today. According to Sanchez, history has been told predominantly from a white perspective and much of the traditions and practices of individual Latino cultures have been drowned out.

Many people on campus tend to categorize all people with Latino backgrounds into stereotypes about Mexicans when, in reality, people can come from many other different walks of life, according to León. That lack of understanding of the different nuances is what she believes causes negative stereotypes. León hopes that the history timeline allows for a more diverse understanding of what Latino culture means.

“Nuestra Historia is an opportunity for people to tell their experiences themselves and embrace their own identities” León said.

Sanchez said that people from the Latino community have faced many microaggressions, prejudice, oppression and discrimination which has left some attacked by it feeling apathetic.

“People in the Latino community experience it so much in their life that they may not be able to identify the oppression in their life because it is normalized to an extent that you don’t even feel it anymore,” Sanchez said.

She hopes that some of the events generate some discussions surrounding the social issues surrounding the Latino community.

Even with the issues surrounding Latinos, the cultures and traditions that have been carried over into the United States and that are present around the world, should be appreciated, according to communication representative of the CCCC Lorena Ambriz. Ambriz believes that people should not forget the risks and stories migrants have had are important to appreciate as well.

The reasons why people leave their homeland will be explored during the ‘Harvest of Empire’ screening on April 14. The movie touches on the social conditions and government policies of the U.S. that led to millions of immigrants leaving everything behind in Mexico.

Ambriz said that one of the main reasons people immigrate to the United States is to provide a better life for their family as she cited that about 95 percent of murders in Mexico go unreported. Some see immigration as a way to get out of a situation. Sometimes immigrants crossing the border will face heat exhaustion, dehydration, physical violence and may even leave their families behind altogether.

“We need to appreciate all the battles that have been fought for us to bere,” Ambriz said. “We also need to remember all the troubles our families have been through for us to be here,” as she also cited how some people even have died for their families to have an opportunity for a better life.

Sanchez said that even though her parents left home to come to the U.S., her parents still reminisce about home back in Mexico.

Even though some people were not born or have lived in Mexico, Francisco Bolaños, a peer facilitator at the CCCC, said people still feel a strong connection to the country and their culture.

When Bolaños goes to visit Mexico he said that people notice that he is not a native. He said that they might be picking up on the way he dresses or the way he speaks Spanish—they know he is not from Mexico, but they still include him.

“I don’t feel like an outsider when I’m there. I’m more aware of my identity, but they do not try to exclude me. I think that’s just the culture (of Mexico),” Bolaños said, referencing the kind of acceptance he feels in Mexico.

To conclude the tribute month, there will be a tribute dinner and dance on April 22, which is one of the bigger celebrations for the tribute month and will have a live band performing.

She said that it is at the dinner table at home where families are the most open. Sanchez has had important discussions with her father at dinner as it is an important part of her culture.

She said that ever since she started embracing her culture more, her parents began having a different kind of pride for their daughter. When she was growing up, her lack of acceptance for her family background made them ashamed of their own identity. Now she realizes their sacrifices and appreciates their willingness to come to a new country to build a life for her to succeed as well as embrace her cultural identity.

For one of her assignments in school, Sanchez had to interview her father about his past experiences and told her things she has never heard before. During that exchange her father cried, something she has only seen twice. Her father told her that he that he would never have had the opportunity to tell her daughter those stories.

Sanchez said it was things she would have never learned before if she was still ashamed of her culture.

“Moments like that—that’s pride for being who you are. It takes away that shamefulness and that internalized racism that you have within you, and you get to become a more authentic form of yourself,” Sanchez said.

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