Members of Brooklyn College’s Mexican Heritage Student Association (MeHSA) look to raise awareness of the historic injustices endured by indigenous people while celebrating their ethnic heritage.
At their first event of the semester, organizers of MeHSA paced themselves in the BC Student Center’s State Lounge. ensuring that the day’s occasion showcased a few worthwhile aspects Mexican traditional: music, spicy appetizers and “Loteria” boards scattering the tables.
The rich mahogany and Victorian architecture of the State Lounge was ironic, juxtaposed with surroundings of rich Mahogany with the image of some likely beneficiaries of the anyone of Americas dark injustices watching by.
“We’re having an [Mexican] Independence Day event soon, we’ll also be having a Indigneous People’s Day [event] on campus,” Mariluz Luna, President of MeHSA announced to a now relatively quiet gathering of students.
The students in attendance were primarily of Mexican descent. By extension, this makes them people of partial Indigenous descent as well, an aspect of their heritage which MeHSA looked not only to embrace, but to expound upon.
Listing off the variety of gross injustices endured by Mexican and Indigenous people on both sides of the border, members of MeHSA insist they are committed to activism beyond social functions.
“All culture clubs are inherently activist clubs,” noted Adam Guzman, a BC senior, and President of the Urban Sustainability Club. “We are in an age where we’re in a lot of colonistic structures in society and school.” He noted the prevailing influence of what he and others believe are decades of a skewed understanding of past and current circumstances some minorities face.
From inviting Indigenous persons on campus to speak to students, to holding “Day of Dignity” protests every Columbus Day, to combating encroaching gentrification in their neighborhoods, to facilitating an open discussion on mental health, MeHSA’s leadership hopes to raise greater awareness and solidarity of the disenfranchised Latino community.
“I’ve never heard of it and know nothing of it,” said Keith Redzinak said, a BC senior and Political Science major, in response to the historical issue of anticlericalism in Mexico typically commemorated in the Mexican holiday known as “Las Posadas,” one of the many matters MeHSA organizers look to raise to students on campus.
Redzinak was, however, aware of the club’s Columbus Day protests, taking umbrage to the namesake holiday. He described the 15th century explorer credited with the “discovery” of the “New World” as “genocidal,” and called the Columbus story a “myth.”
Key to MeHSA’s success has been a continued cooperation with fellow on-campus Latino clubs such as the Puerto Rican Alliance (PRA) and the Dominican Student Movement (DSM).
“This is a club for everyone,” Sandra Pacheco, a junior and Psychology major, said jovially. “Even for the Independence Day celebration, [students] will be talking countries as well.”