Hispanic Heritage month: Diversity Through Literature
Benjamin Grady, Editor-in-Chief
Last week, the Oglethorpe Phillip Weltner Library held the poetry and prose speaking event to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. The event was open to both Oglethorpe students and administration of all backgrounds, and people were allowed to share literature from different Latinx authors that capture Latin American experiences.
Sarah Rodgers, an Oglethorpe student alumnus and the associate of the library, was the hostess responsible for making this event happen and allowing attendees to share their readings. “Instead of just simply hosting people here “she said, “we are honoring their heritage and making sure that they feel like they have a space to feel like they can celebrate their backgrounds.” Rodgers describes this event as the second iteration of ways to celebrate not just culture, but the diversity that Oglethorpe University offers. The first iteration was held in Feb. 2020, during Black History month, for the Harlem Renaissance poetry and prose event.
With poetry and prose, it is a unique way to celebrate heritage because it takes personal experiences and brings them to life through discourse. It paints a picture and allows readers to relate to the message of the literature. For Hispanic heritage, the readings focused on the struggles that Latin Americans have faced and continue to face, or the pride that many strongly feel for their background and who they are. By detailing the thoughts, dreams, and everyday lives of Latin Americans, it also exposes other individuals of different backgrounds with Hispanic backgrounds, creating parallel experiences that compare to and contrast each other.
Regardless of where you come from and what your background is, literature is a way to capture personal experiences that others would not understand entirely, especially when they have not lived through them. “There are certain experiences that you have that other people don’t have. If they don’t come from your background, that sense of recognition cannot happen” Rodgers said.
This allows individuals of Hispanic descent to recognize who they are and make that connection through literature that captures the lives of others. “It’s also important for people who aren’t of that background to be exposed to different experiences and cultures. It is a call and response,” Rodgers said.
Looking at a perspective that is different from your own is a way to understand literature from a world view. In order to gain a better appreciation for your own life experiences, stepping away from your own heritage and putting yourself in the shoes of another, through poetry and prose, is a way to do so.