On Wednesday, Feb. 5, Latinas Unidas (LU) hosted the event “Cafe Con Leche.” Held in the new Latinx Lounge in Armington Hall, board members Annays Yacamán ’22, Mia Villavicencio-Eschinger ’22 and Margie Sosa ’20 led a discussion about colorism in the Latinx community. “Latinas Unidas was inspired to hold our Café Con Leche event to celebrate milestones and accomplishments made by the Afro-Latinx population, but also to bring a light to colorism and anti-Blackness in the Latinx community,” said Villavicencio-Eschinger, vice president of development for LU.
“I found that it’s sometimes surprising to individuals who aren’t a part of the Latinx community that there are such issues; we hoped to bring light to said issues,” she said. Yacamán, Villavicencio-Eschinger and Sosa gave a short presentation on the history of colorism within the Latinx community. Each member talked briefly about the community’s diverse roots, but that whiteness is still the standard of beauty due to the colonial history of Latin American countries.
The board also discussed ways to start difficult conversations with friends and family about colorism. “We realized that not everyone fits the same description when you think of someone Latinx and we’ve always wanted to touch upon Afro-Latinidad but were a little hesitant because not many of us on campus identify as such,” said Vice President of Finance for LU Gabby Vasquez ’22. “And because it is February, Black History Month, we thought it would be perfect to really plan an event to pay tribute and respect to the importance African heritage has had on Latin America,” she said.
Following the presentation, the board hosted guest speaker Valeria J. Martinez via Skype. National training specialist for the Posse Foundation, Martinez shared her own experiences with racism from a young age with the audience and opened the floor to discussion. Martinez offered further advice on how to have difficult conversations about colorism with family. The discussion provided space for members to share their own experiences with colorism and seek solidarity with one another.
“I just hope that people left Café Con Leche with a little more knowledge about the impact Afro-Latinidad has on Latin America. I hope people have become more aware of the vast struggles that people of different heritage, of different skin colors and other features have gone through and continue to go through. I hope people appreciate the strength through adversity that was shown through our guest speaker and video,” Vasquez said.
Villavicencio-Eschinger echoed her sentiment. “We hope that the audience took away new knowledge regarding the Latinx community and a further understanding that people within the community unfortunately face different issues than others within the community,” she said. “We also hope to continue the conversation and to support our Afro-Latinx community members.”
Those who are interested in further supporting the Latinx community on campus can attend “Concha Fridays” for pastries and coffee from 3-5 p.m. in the Babcock Formal Lounge starting Feb. 14, 2020.