Last Monday, May 16, Kalamazoo College hosted Patricia Valoy, engineer, STEM activist, and feminist author.
Wendy Rubio K’16 introduced Valoy, stating that the campus has been engaged in discussion surrounding feminist issues, and having Valoy on campus is “another way to continue that discussion.”
Valoy talked to a group gathered in the Arcus Center for Social Justice about Latinx identity, and the confusing nature behind it. Although there are more than 50.5 million Latinx living in the United States, this should not necessarily be considered one group of people.
“Someone from the Dominican Republic wouldn’t necessarily understand someone from Argentina,” Valoy said, “which is why it’s hard to have an overarching ‘Latina.’”
Valoy also explained that she prefers using the term “Latinx” because it is “a more gender neutral way of speaking.” Different terms for identity, such as “Latino” and “Latina” suggest gender. “I don’t like using masculine,” said Valoy.
There are many other words similar to Latinx that are associated with identity, including Spanish-speaking, Chicano, Latinx bloc, and Hispanic.
“Some people don’t want to use any of these,” Valoy said, “just their names, and that’s fine.”
According to Valoy, many different aspects make up ones identity, and it is up to them to chose which they want to use. Someone’s religion, culture, economic status, race, or ethnicity could determine how one sees themselves. Valoy stated that she changes her identity all the time, saying “they’re like scarves to me.”
During the talk, Valoy read excerpt from many of her favorite authors. This included a poem by Lorna Cervantes titled “For The Young White Man Who Asked Me How I, An Intelligent, Well-Read Person, Could Believe In The War Between Races,” and pieces from Gloria Anzaldúa’s “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza.”
Many present at the talk left feeling empowered. “What I liked about Patricia’s presentation was that I walked away feeling like I had some agency when determining my identity,” said Josie Cibelli K’16, “I hope to carry that with me for a long time.”
Valoy ended her talk with a quote from Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”