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Campus Life

Latinx Heritage Month: What Is It and How Can You Get Involved?

Hosted by Multicultural Student Affairs, the monthlong celebration honors the culture and experiences of thousands of NC State students, faculty and staff — and is open to all.

Students wave the Nicaraguan and Mexican flags in Talley Student Union.

From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, NC State joins in the national celebration of Latinx Heritage Month. Over the next four weeks, all of campus is invited to take part in a series of events honoring the experiences and impact of the Latin American community on our Wolfpack and this country.

Many of these events are coordinated by Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA), one of four campus community centers that serve to inform, support and expand the cultural horizons of the entire NC State student body.

Below, you’ll find answers to common questions about getting involved, the month’s significance and how you can stay connected with NC State’s Latinx community.

How do I get involved?

The theme for the 2023 celebration is “Unidos en la Felicidad” or “United in Happiness,” a call for joy and celebration despite the world’s many stressors and uncertainties. Events begin at noon on Sept. 15 with a public kickoff in Talley Student Union that bring together different organizations on campus for tabling, music, giveaways and a piñata.

On the same afternoon, you can flex your creativity by making a flag that represents your nationality or heritage at Orgullosamente Latinx in the Women’s Center; the flags will be on display in MSA’s office until the month’s end.

The final MSA-hosted event of the month, on Oct. 5, is Noche de Pijamada, an evening pajama party complete with karaoke, telenovela viewings and refreshment.

What is Latinx Heritage Month?

Latinx Heritage Month is the NC State community’s preferred name for National Hispanic Heritage Month; you can find out why below. The celebration was established in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week and expanded to a four-week celebration 20 years later.

Latinx Heritage Month was created to recognize the contributions of the millions of American citizens and residents who trace their heritage back to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, that heritage is shared by more than 62 million U.S. resident in 2020 — or nearly one-fifth of the total population.

The date the month begins, Sept. 15, is significant in the histories of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, all of which celebrate their national independence on that date. Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their respective independence days on Sept. 16, 18 and 21.

Why does NC State call it “Latinx” Heritage Month?

“Latinx” is a gender-neutral term for people who share Latin American heritage. While the term’s origin is unclear, its earliest use was likely by LGBTQ activists of that same heritage. By inserting an “x” into “Latina” and “Latino,” they sought to disrupt the gender binary inherent in Spanish and raise awareness of marginalized identities within their community.

Not every person of Latin American heritage feels “Latinx” represents them, but languages change to meet the needs of those who use them. Many familiar words or phrases were once viewed as clunky, unnecessary or even provocative. Today, “Latinx” appears in every English dictionary and is accepted by the AP Stylebook, which NC State follows.

More importantly, we follow our students and alumni.

Many people may still prefer to call themselves Latina, Latino or something else that specifies their heritage or national origin, such as Mexican American or Nicaraguan. Others may use “Hispanic” to signify they are from a Spanish-speaking country or background. We stick to the AP Stylebook by respecting an individual’s preference — while still honoring our community’s use of the general term they feel is most inclusive.

How can I stay involved?

Latinx Heritage Month is just one of the events hosted by MSA each year; Native American Heritage Month follows in November, and the center offers programming and support all year long. Students can also drop by the African American Cultural Center, the LGBTQ Center and the Women’s Center.

If you want to connect with Latinx students at NC State, there are a range of student organizations you can join, including:

Graduates of NC State can join the dedicated Latinx Alumni Network led by Andrea Duhon ’05 and Lyndenise Berdecia ’06. In addition to social events, the network offers opportunities to support current students and their academic and professional development, including a scholarship fund for students who have demonstrated an interest in equity, diversity and justice for the Latinx community.