Latinx Heritage Month kicks off with food, music and festivities

Carlos Hernandez

Alexis Lynde

Las Calliope preforming at the Latinx Heritage Month Kick-off at California State University Bakersfield. Wednesday, September 15, 2021. view full gallery at:

Victoria Cipres, Feature Writer

For the first day of Latinx Heritage Month, CSU Bakersfield kicked off the celebration on Sept. 15 in front of the Student Union Patio with food, music, and keynote speaker Dr. Jorge Moraga.
Students began to fill the front of the Student Union Patio once the performance began from the vibrant and lively trio, Las Caliope, Bakersfield’s first all-woman Mariachi versatile group. The kick-off also provided free food from locally owned, Latinx restaurant, El Pollo Riko. For some, this was the first time since the pandemic to see the campus come to life.
Keynote speaker, Dr. Jorge Moraga, is the assistant professor of interdisciplinary, ethnic, and Latina/Latino/Latinx studies here on campus. Dr. Moraga is a long-time contributor and supporter of Latinx Heritage Month. Dr. Moraga spoke about the importance of “how to best implement these institutional interventions, how do we hold each other accountable, and what does transparency and visibility look like with these kind of changes.”
For most, the term Latinx is inclusive to all who choose to use it. That does not mean everyone may feel represented by the term if “they are not willing and ready to engage with the critical work required to use Latinx,” Dr. Moraga expressed. The “X” in Latinx simply showcases how the Latinx community can be more inclusive and the importance of representation.
Dr. Moraga contends that “Words reflect power, language matters, and that together, the politics of naming can create new forms of belonging but also new forms of invisibility.”
Students at CSUB have worked endlessly behind the scenes to make the change of Hispanic Heritage Month to Latinx Heritage month here on campus.
Bakersfield’s first all-woman versatile trio, Las Caliope, closed the kickoff. The trio is made up of Celene Ruelas on violin, Rosanna Valadez on guitar, and CSUB’s very own junior, Tagacy Valdez on bass. It is not common to find an all-woman mariachi group. Valdez expressed that it “feels great knowing that we’re doing something different than what is expected as females in mariachi.”
Las Caliope was formed in April 2021 and their name says it all. It is from the Greek music muse, Kalliope; Ruelas said that “since we are Latina and we are versatile, we wanted to add a versatile twist to the name.” When asked how CSUB reached out to them, Ruelas said, “CSU Programming emailed us and reached out after coordinator Afaf Aldhulay was tagged in a video of ours.”
The woman of Las Caliope expressed how much of an honor it is to represent the Hispanic community. When asking Ruelas how it feels to bring the group together and play at the kickoff, she stated that it is not easy being an all-woman trio “but it is something new and I’m super proud of all of us. It feels good to bring something new and what we have to bring to Cal-State and I am super honored to do so.”
When asking Tagacy Valdez, junior and human biology major, how she feels about being an educated young Latina representing her college and community, Valdez eagerly said, “It’s such an honor to have such a unique opportunity to be able to represent the Hispanic community while working hard in school to be able to work closer towards my future career…the girls and I love sharing our talent with other people and we hope to inspire other young girls and women.”
CSUB has a month filled with great events in celebration of Latinx Heritage Month with student-run activity and keynote speakers. The event calendar is available online and on CSUB Programming’s Instagram @csubprogramming.