Awash in pink and blue lights, students swayed and sang along to the dreamy pop reggaeton Latinx band, Luna Luna, to celebrate the start of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a month-long celebration from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The month “honors and highlights the tremendous contributions that the Hispanic and Latino population has made in the United States,” Noelia Rodriguez, event chair of Hispanic Heritage Month at OU, said.
Rodriguez highlighted the importance of having a community like the Hispanic American Student Association available for students, who, in conjunction with the OU Latino Student Programs and Services, hosted the kickoff celebration on the Oklahoma Memorial Courtyard.
“Being at a predominantly white institution, it can be really easy to feel small on campus … (but) you can find (supportive) pockets of campus … if you’re in a cultural club,” Rodriguez said.
Comprised of vocalist Kavvi Gonzalez, back-up vocalist and keyboardist Danny Bonilla, drummer Kaylin Martinez and bassist Ryan Gordon, Moon Moonthe Dallas-based Latinx indie band, are known for their emotion-trenched synth-pop music.
They are currently on tour for their third studio album “Flower Moon,” an album created during the first COVID-19 lockdown. This concert marked the second time Luna Luna has performed in Norman, having previously performed during the Norman Music Festival in April.
For Luna Luna, Hispanic Heritage Month honors both their past and their present.
“It’s a reminder of our culture … and really highlights all the people that came here from other (Latin) countries,” Gonzalez said.
Bonilla agreed, saying it’s a time when he reflects upon the sacrifices his parents made coming to the U.S. He said migrating to the U.S. is not easy, and he doesn’t take it for granted. In addition, the band also discussed the importance of representation in the music industry.
“Growing up third-generation Mexican … I wasn’t exposed to a lot of that side of my culture, so being in a band where everyone looks like you or has similar upbringings as you and then getting to (perform) in front of people that look like you … it’s an inspiring thing,” Martinez said.
For Luna Luna, who got their start playing at local universities, performing at OU to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month is a very special thing. Martinez said it was a big deal for universities to take a chance on indie bands and music and connecting with that demographic is very cool and important.
For OU students, the Hispanic Heritage Month Kickoff Concert is a time to celebrate and recognize the Hispanic community. Students agreed that events like these help bond the community and show that OU does have lots of diversity and cultural groups on campus. Biology sophomore Hayleigh Carrillo emphasized the importance of OU’s multicultural communities.
“There are so many different heritages … and (cultures) being celebrated in this month, and it’s good to acknowledge that,” Carrillo said. “(Multicultural organizations) build community which a lot of people need, especially in a school like OU that has so much (diversity). … It’s nice to have these events where everyone can just meet up and have that familiarity.”
Some OU students found appreciation for Hispanic Heritage month through their own cultural backgrounds. Amelia Torrevillas-Brown, Asian American Student Association and civil engineering sophomore, said she could understand the importance of Hispanic Heritage as an Asian American. She said cultural heritage in the U.S. is “extremely important.”
Many appreciated how the HASA and OU Latino Student Programs and Services came together to make an enjoyable night embracing Latinx culture.
“It’s a time to celebrate community and bring everyone together in a beneficial way … (by) connecting with (others, making) friends and just getting in touch with campus life,” former OU graduate student Enrique Juárez said.
For Juárez, who previously served in HASA leadership roles in his undergraduate days, Luna Luna’s presence meant a lot. Juárez said the band is relatable because the band performs songs in both English and Spanish, which a lot of Hispanic and Latin Americans can relate to.
Through events such as the Hispanic Heritage Month Kickoff Concert and organizations like the Hispanic American Student Association, Rodriguez believes OU’s campus fosters a comfortable and safe community for people of diverse backgrounds.
“Creating these traditions, I think, just empowers the students on campus a little bit more.”
OU Latino Programs and Services and HASA will be hosting events throughout Hispanic Heritage Month. The next event will take place Tuesday, Sept. 20, to celebrate corn and beans, “two essential ingredients to many Latin American cultures and cuisines,” according to the Hispanic Heritage Month website. The event is free and open to all members of the OU community.
This News is Published from Google Alert – Hispanic Heritage Month.