First Latinidad assembly celebrates diversity of Latinx culture


Matthew McGehee

Traditional Tunes. Mestra Marisa of the Afro-Brazilian dance group Gingarte Capoeira demonstrates two traditional Brazilian instruments, the berimbau and caxixi, which are used in the martial art form of capoeira.

Ethan Swinger, Assistant editor

Highlighting the diversity of stories, cultures and experiences among the Latinx community to U-High students, Latinos Unidos hosted its first-ever assembly “Celebrating Latinidad” on Oct. 20. 

The assembly kicked off with featured guest speaker Teresa Barajas, a community engagement specialist at the Field Museum, who discussed how she works with many cultural different backgrounds at her job and the impact of her Mexican American heritage on her upbringing.

She pointed to the many famous Latinas both in and outside of her life as people who have given her much inspiration and guidance.

“When I think about what motivates me to keep going, I can’t give you one specific name or Latina superpower,” Teresa said. “I think about so many amazing Latina women: Frida Kahlo, Dolores Huerta, Sonia Sotomayor … and so many more and the struggles they had to overcome to accomplish all that they did in each of their fields.”

Latinidad also presented two traditional Brazilian dance performances from Gingarte Capoeira, an African Brazilian dance group. One dance was the maculelê, an Afro-Brazilian art form, and the other was capoeira, a form combining martial arts with dance.

Students from the Black Students’ Association, Asian Students’ Association and Muslim Students’ Association helped cohost the assembly to expand on what Latinidad means for their communities.

“We really wanted to work with them to kind of bring out the diversity that really comes with being Latinx,” said Juan Chaides, a co-president of Latinos Unidos. 

Juan believes many Latinx people and groups are underrepresented, especially at Lab. Latinidad was an effort to bring awareness to the Latinx community at U-High.

Co-President Kariani Rojas expressed how Latinidad helps bring attention to Latinos Unidos and the multiculturalism within the Latinx community in Chicago and as a whole.

“It’s basically meant to introduce the Latinos Unidos club to the community,” Kariani said. “There’s a lot of mischaracterization of [the Latino community] as just Mexican communities being here when there are a lot more.”

Kariani hopes that Latinidad will set a precedent and this will become an annual assembly for the club.

Junior Katie Williams believed the assembly surpassed expectations and was captivating through its different segments that displayed the broad variety of Latinx culture.

“I kinda had high expectations and they fully succeeded,” Katie said. “I was really excited to see the different aspects of the different cultures and the balance between performing arts and education.”