The Cultural Organization of Latin Americans presents the history of its activism – The Cavalier Daily



Dani Alvarenga, a third-year college student and president of the Cultural Organization for Latin Americans, briefed a group of community members on COLA’s history and current vision on Monday evening. The discussion was part of the Minority Rights Coalition’s Memory Mondays event series, which records the history and activism of different marginalized groups at the University.

The MRC – an umbrella organization representing a wide range of groups for marginalized students on the grounds – announced the series earlier this month as a way to maintain the institutional memory of student activism on the grounds. Abena Appiah-Ofori, president of the MRC and third-year college student, said she was inspired by creating a series of student-led lectures detailing the story of a specific group of students after realizing that most of the students on Grounds had not been educated on the pivotal cases of student activism. in the history of the University.

Two weeks ago, the Black Student Alliance launched the series. Deric Childress Jr., president of the Black Student Alliance and fourth-year college student, discussed the history of black student activism at the University, including campaigns leading to the founding of the Office of Afro Affairs -american in 1976, protests in 2015 after Martese Johnson was unfairly beaten by officers from the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and BSA traffic “Reiteration of historic demands, but not met. “

On Monday evening, Alvarenga discussed the formation of COLA and how it has transformed since its founding. The organization has existed at the university in many forms, starting in 2000 as an umbrella organization run by the university called La Alianza to bring together Hispanic and Latin student leaders from all walks of life.

The group chose to form their own separate organization in 2008 to gain autonomy from the University and rebranded themselves as the Latino Student Alliance, which was changed to the Latinx Student Alliance to be more gender inclusive in 2017.

“Our organization focuses its efforts on celebrating the diversity of cultures and identities that exist in Latin America rather than promoting the idea of ​​a monolithic ‘Latin community’,” Alvarenga said.

Many groups split from the main organization in 2018 to form Political Latinxs United for Movement and Action in Society, the Central Americans for Empowerment at AVU, and the Afro-Latinx Student Organization. PLUMAS focuses on activism, while CAFE and AUSSI provide spaces for healing and activism for those with more specific marginalized identities.

The aftermath of George Floyd’s murder and a national and local calculation on the role of race in American society in 2020 has led LSA to question whether its leadership is not representative of non-white Latinx members, Alvarenga said.

“Abolishing LSA at that time was what some people thought,” Alvarenga said.

Some members of the group called for the dissolution of the Latinx Student Alliance, after criticism emerged from within the organization of the group’s emphasis on the ideals of “Latinidad,” which Alvarenga explained. like “the idea that all Latinx are alike, all Latinx have the same culture, all Latinx have the same experiences”, and the fact that the leadership of the group had become predominantly white.

In response to these criticisms, the group rebranded itself as the Cultural Organization for Latin Americans in 2021 to position itself as a cultural organization and to be more inclusive of those whose families and cultures come from Latin America but do not. ‘don’t identify or like the term. Latinx, which is only used by 3% of American Hispanics.

“We come in all shades, all different cultures and languages ​​too,” Alverenga said. “Right now we are at a point where we continue to organize events to educate people about the diversity of Latin America as well as the different issues Latin Americans face in Latin America and the States. -United.”

To help move away from the idea of ​​Latin Americans as a monolith, COLA plans to hold language learning seminars – starting with Haitian Creole – in an attempt to dispel the myth that all Latinos – Americans speak the same language.

A number of organizations are expected to speak out over the next semester, including the Asian Leaders Council, FEATHERS, the Queer Student Union and undocUVA. Information on the date and time of each group’s presentation will be available on the MRC’s Instagram page.



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