“La Comunidad: Making Place, Making Soul”

by Eliza Rodriguez y Gibson
Professor and Associate Dean in BCLA for DEI and Faculty Development

Eliza photo 225x300 - “La Comunidad: Making Place, Making Soul”
Eliza Rodriguez y Gibson, Professor and Associate Dean in BCLA for DEI and Faculty Development

The ongoing and multiple struggles facing our communities make us who we are; we experience them in our own lives and in familia, and alongside our neighbors and friends. En la lucha, in the struggle for a better world, we build our strengths and renew our commitments to each other.

La cultura cura, the Chicana/o/x movement proclaimed, and it is in this spirit of healing through our cultural practices, that a tradition of U.S. Latina/o/x art making was renewed in the second half of the 20th century. Communities are made, not born, and the arts make the place for it and join us together. Creative work has a critical function in our social movements and in our lives: it gives us the visual vocabulary, joins ideas together, and helps us imagine something better than what is given.

As we enter Latina/o/x Heritage month here at LMU, we work to center the joy and the beauty of our lives and of our antepasados, (the ancestors). We have inherited their ganas, their love, and their strength; si se puede, they told us. Whether are the children of immigrants, recent arrivals, or fifth-generation Estadounidenses*, we share a common context of struggle in the U.S.

We also share a U.S. tradition of art and activism that touches not only U.S. Latina/o/x communities, but crosses national boundaries as well as ethnic/racial ones. Latinidad is multiracial — the aftermath of 500 years of colonization, slavery, and migration. Latinidad is feminista, queer, mestiza/o, indigenous, and Black. Our traditions of art and activism have their roots in Latinoamérica, but we remake them in the here and now. Latinidad is expansive and it is continously made and renewed every time we walk together toward our common goals of justice and peace. The arts illuminate our path, articulate our struggles, and sustains us on our journey.

The vibrant and diverse Latina/o/x communities at LMU include the Latina/o/x Staff Association, the Latina/o/x Faculty Association, Viernes Por La Tarde (a coalition of Latina/o/x faculty, staff, and students), MEChA — Moviemiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlán — which began more than 50 years ago, as well as more institutional bodies, such as Chicana/o and Latina/o Student Services, and the Department of Chicana/o and Latina/o studies.

This month is  a celebration of our various communities, our culturas, our histories in the U.S., and how they light the way forward. We invite you to join us at the online Hub, where you will find events such as: SPS | CLSS: Self-identity and Latinx Culture;

Justice on Tap: Artivism with Victor Ochoa; Sabor, Cultura, and Your Health with @latina.nutritionista; and a Historic Boyle Heights Walking Tour with Shmuel Gonzales the Barrio Boychick. All members of the LMU community are welcome.