Celebrating diversity and encouraging acceptance

Hispanic Heritage Lecture Diverse in information

By Kaitlin Trujillo
On September 14, 2017

Photo by Kaitlin Trujiillo
Dr. Gabriela Serrano, Associate Professor of the Department of English and Modern Languages, answers an audience member’s questions during the Q & A section. Serrano is proud of her Chicana heritage.

Multiple professors from ASU presented students with the opportunity to learn about Hispanic culture in the United States, how to redefine and rise above stereotypes, as well as the advancement Hispanics are making in education at the Hispanic Heritage Month lecture Sept. 12 in the UC.

"It’s awesome to see my culture celebrated here," Amanda Peralta Jasso, President of Association of Mexican-American Students, said.

Many views and ideas were expressed throughout the evening that encouraged students to take pride in their roots and celebrate diversity.

"Tonight was important because we got to hear different perspectives," Sydney Wade, senior, said. "You can look at your environment differently by knowing this information."

Dr. Crystal M. Kreitler, Associate Professor of the Department of Psychology and Sociology, discussed cultural frame switching.

Cultural frame switching is a psychological process experienced by individuals who belong to two cultures.

Kreitler explained that this phenomenon can sometimes lead individuals to feel like they have two different personalities, but don’t necessarily belong to either one.

Kreitler encouraged students to own their individuality and celebrate what makes them unique.

"Our individual differences, our cultures, all these beautiful ethnicities are what make us special," Kreitler said.

"Not seeing color is whitewashing," Dr. Flor Leos Madero, Assistant Professor of the Department of Communication and Mass Media, said. "Instead of saying ‘I don’t see color,’ maybe we should say ‘I accept color. I accept your differences and I accept your struggles."

Madero’s topic for the lecture was Colorism, the idea that the lighter the skin, the better the individual.

"Colorism affects all of us," Madero said. "Just because you are unaware of something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist"

Madero showed a clip of people from many different ethnicities talking about how their skin color has affected them.

The darker skinned people spoke of low self-esteems, trying to bleach their own skin, and the negative stereotypes that they battle every day.

"Be careful with the words you say to others," Madero said, "and be careful with the words you say to yourself, because words really do matter."

Dr. Gabriela Serrano, Associate Professor of the Department of English and Modern Languages, revealed positive ways to redefine stereotypes.

Serrano gave one example of a negative stereotype; speaking with a Spanish accent indicating intellectual inferiority. Redefined, that stereotype reveals the individual to be multi-lingual.

"We have to understand where our students are coming from and how we can help them rethink these stereotypes and gender roles," Serrano said.

Dr. Daniel I. Castaneda, Assistant Professor of the Department of Engineering, said Hispanics and women are severely underrepresented in the Engineering field.

Castaneda said ASU is building a department for students that can infuse a change in engineering, one that hopes to increase diversity in the field.

"Until engineering reflects the culture that it serves, there will be communities who will be underserved," Castaneda said.

Dr. John Klingemann, Associate Professor and Department Chair of History, said Texas ranks high for the number of Hispanics who graduate from high school and the number of Hispanics enrolling in four-year universities is increasing.

Klingemann spoke on his Hispanic heritage as well as his culture as a Texan and the pride he feels in both. Klingemann encouraged students to take pride in their heritage as well as their education.

The speakers specialized in different topics, but had a similar theme: celebrating heritage.

"It’s interesting how all of our work can come together and really support what we do," Klingemann said.

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