Latinos Juntos invites guest speaker to promote idea of inclusion

Poet Noel Quiñones discusses the importance of culture, identity


Students watch poet Noel Quiñones present in the NC library on Oct. 5 (Barbera/LION).

Nicholas Barbera, Reporter

In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, Director of Equity and Belonging Dr. Jennifer Rowe worked with Latinos Juntos to celebrate the concept of Latinidad—ethnic, geographic, cultural, or linguistic attributes that are shared by Latin Americans and their descendants. Poet Noel Quiñones was invited to present to students and staff in order to increase feelings of equity and belonging at LT.

“Race changes over time,” Quiñones said in his presentation on Oct. 5. “Why? Because it’s made up. Race will change depending on how people want to use it.”

Quiñones’ presentation focused on what it means to be a part of Latinidad and the labels that have been placed on society to support other agendas.

“Identity is confusing,” Quiñones said. “[The goal is to] leave here with better questions, more exact questions.”

He mentioned that Latinx isn’t an identity. Instead, it serves as a sort of collection of cultures that allows an individual to place themselves within this database where they see fit.

“[Quiñones’] work is really powerful,” Latinos Juntos club member Abraham Morales ‘22 said. “It applies to a lot of things in my life because his whole focus is [to] reach [out] to other Latinos.”

Co-president of Latinos Juntos Janessa Mosqueda ‘22 elaborated on the concept of togetherness serving as a key component of what makes the Latinos Juntos club work at LT.

“My favorite part of the club is definitely the sense of community that we have,” Mosqueda said. “I think it really forms a safe place for the Latino community [at] LT, and we definitely touch on a lot of important conversations that I think we wouldn’t talk about otherwise.”

The meeting took place inside the library of both campuses, with the poet making his attendance via Zoom. Students were encouraged to ask questions or make comments as the featured guest went through his presentation. He emphasized that finding what makes you uniquely happy is especially important with the presence of fabricated concepts such as race and ethnicity.

“I talked about my favorite word, ‘wepa,’” Quiñones said. “Wepa has two definitions—it means [to] celebrate as well as acknowledge mistakes.”

Quiñones expressed plans to elaborate on topics such as his interpretation of the word “wepa,” but was cut short due to the length of the meeting. Plans for Quiñones to return soon are in the works. 

“I think [Quinones] provided the kids who went with a lot of information that needed to be shared,” Mosqueda said. “It was definitely a valuable experience and I hope that he’s able to come back and speak to us.”

Students can show up to the next Latinos Juntos meeting on Oct. 26 at 3:30 p.m. in the SC sophomore cafeteria.