The grand opening of Casa Latina at Portland State has inspired fierce debate among members of the community regarding its goals. There are people who will point out that Casa Latina will lead to a separatist attitude among Latina and Latino students, and is therefore counterproductive.
The grand opening of Casa Latina at Portland State has inspired fierce debate among members of the community regarding its goals. There are people who will point out that Casa Latina will lead to a separatist attitude among Latina and Latino students, and is therefore counterproductive. It is the same argument used by those concerned by immigration and assimilation in the United States.
Separatism and nationalism have often historically occurred when previous power structures set two or more cultures or ethnicities against one another for the gain of the dominant group. Many of these disputes have timelines so long that it is hard to grasp the depth of their physiological impact to those who are involved.
In the end, the above has nothing to do with a university’s responsibility to respond to the social needs of its student body. PSU is not a nation, and we do not exist in a realm of cultural, ethnic or political hegemony.
What we are is part of a school very behind in the times on addressing the needs of our multi-cultural campus. Compared to the International
Studies and Global Studies departments of other schools in this country, our three to four classes offered in the Chicano and Latino studies department each term is a barren desert. The University of Washington’s Latin American studies department offers around 12 courses each term. By comparison, we are in a diversity famine in our educational curriculum.
Add this information to the ever-present threat of budget cuts, we cannot, as students, allow for the university authorities to decide that diversity studies is where the budget should be cut—this will only weaken our education and give rise to a bad reputation that, given the sour racist history of our state, we simply can’t permit.
The fact remains that European and North American nations have been responsible for much of the pain in the world, for more countless reasons than can ever be explicated here. Through imperialism, colonialism and now the neo-liberal plague of global capitalism, we owe it to allow other voices to be heard in our halls of education.
This doesn’t create victims out of our Latino and Latina student body; it merely acknowledges that an unequal scale of power has historically existed and points out the ways in which it still exists and affects our society today.
It is through diversity, whether ethnically, culturally and politically, that we have a chance at using our educations to prevent those who will become our future educators, inventors, scientists, writers, engineers and social scientists from making the same mistakes which have disenfranchised and exploited people from the global south, and which have tarnished our species’ history through illegitimate hierarchies. ?