Hispanic Heritage Month Interview | Rebecca Mejia

Rebecca Mejia is a third-year studying Economics and International Affairs with a minor in Spanish. Check out her perspective of the celebration of culture taking place this month as well as burdens facing the Latinx community.

What does Latinx Heritage Month mean to you?
Latinx Heritage Month for me is a celebration of diversity and different cultures. It’s really cool because Latinx Heritage Month actually begins with the national independence day of several countries in Latin America.

Is there someone you’ve learned about recently from Latinx history who inspires you?
Yes, I can think of a couple! Sonia Sotomayor is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. She is the first Hispanic woman on the Supreme Court. Also, more recently, a woman named Vivir Quintana, who used to be a school teacher, wrote a song that has become the anthem of the Femicide protests in Mexico. She basically dropped everything to speak out against this issue.
 
What are some ways you would like to see Latinx Heritage honored by ministries and institutions?
Solidarity between the church and the Latinx community. Even the simple statement, “I see you, and I stand with you.” is powerful. It’s so simple, but it’s powerful.

Recently, there was an incident in one of the Hispanic Students Association’s Zoom meetings. Their involvement fair was “Zoom-bombed” with people yelling racial slurs and other horrible things. They have been petitioning UGA for a while to say something condemning these actions. They put out a formal letter and all of the other minority organizations said, “We stand with you.” I know this incident was not on Wesley’s radar, but in the future, it would be cool to see Wesley say, “We see you, and we stand with you. Because Jesus would not stand for this.”
 
What are burdens that the Latinx community faces that you would like to draw attention to?
My first thought was the Femicides that are happening in Mexico right now. And I’m sure there are more issues that face the Latinx community that I’m not aware of because I live in America, and my parents live here. So I hear about issues from social media or my family that lives in Mexico. Femicide has always been an issue. If a woman goes missing or dies, no one really cares. Recently, there has been a movement to say, “enough is enough.” At the beginning of quarantine they had a huge rally in the central part of Mexico City. Women in cities all over Mexico gathered, rallied to say, “our voices will not be silenced anymore.”

The second issue that comes to mind is colorism. It’s something that is so ingrained in the Latinx community that sometimes I don’t even realize it’s there. I do not look like the stereotypical Hispanic person. And that is a privilege I have – to pass as white, especially at a predominately white institution like UGA. No one comes up to me and assumes anything because of my physical appearance, which I can’t say for a lot of my counterparts. Sometimes it’s a struggle for me because I want to feel like a part of the Latinx community. I feel like I’m not completely in the Hispanic community, and I’m not completely in the ‘typical’ UGA community.
 
Colorism is a generational thing. Usually the members of the Latinx community who present more European are the CEO’s, celebrities, and the people portrayed in telenovelas. Whereas people of color are seen as the working class. So, colorism is a major issue.

What are some aspects of Latinx culture that you wish were more celebrated/acknowledged?
Our resilience. A lot of our motivation is from knowing what we have to lose. I think of my parents. They moved to America and worked for 20 years so my brother and I could have more opportunities. That is the kind of person I want to be.

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