Raza Heritage Month kicks off with mariachi performance and author

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Dr. Christopher Carmona, English professor at University of Texas Rio Grade Valley, gives a presentation on the unrecorded history of the Matanza and atrocities committed by the Texas Rangers Sept. 17 in the Fiesta Room of Loftin. Carmona’s presentation kicked off Raza Heritage Month. Mitchell Gawlik

An essay contest was announced at the event.

By Giovanni Maccarone


Activist and scholar Christopher Carmona said at the opening of Raza Heritage Month Sept. 17, that history is repeating itself at the Texas border with Mexico.

He discussed his new novel “El Rinche,” giving the background and the inspiration as to why he wrote it.

“It’s a very dark history and it’s still going on today,” he said. “The militarization of the border, the tactic of, at the time, the Texas Rangers, and now we’re looking at ICE and how history is repeating itself,” he said.

The book, published by Jade Publishing in July, is set in 1910-1920 along the Rio Grande Valley and follows the characters in their challenges against Texas Rangers.

Hispanic people were forced south into Mexico during this time, he said. He compared that period with current practices of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

President Robert Vela explained why “Hispanic Heritage Month” was changed to Raza Heritage Month this year.

“The committee chose to rename this month as Raza Heritage Month to embrace a term that they felt would be a more inclusive term of the student and community we serve here at San Antonio College,” he said. “’Raza’ literally translates as ‘the race’, but it’s more commonly understood to me as ‘the people.’ It does not focus on the idea of one race or one ethnicity over another. But embraces the diverse mix of people that populate the Americas.”

Students who attended the kickoff ceremony were treated to a colorful performance by this college’s mariachi group, Estrellas Del Alamo.

The group performed four songs as students cheered and sampled snacks and beverages. The event was planned by English Instructor Mariano Aguilar Jr.

The event was also used to announce an essay contest “Can’t Cage a Dream: U.S. Immigration Policies,” promoted by English Professors Alex V. Bernal and Patricia Portales.

The essay is supposed to cover U.S. immigration policies and the impact the policies have on immigrants.

The reward for first place is $500, $300 for second place and $200 for third place.

The deadline for the contest is Oct. 18.

Students can contact English professors or the department of English, humanities, education and journalism-photography in Room 123 of Gonzales Hall for guidelines and more information.

Events celebrating ‘Raza Heritage Month’ take place throughout the month, and information can be found on alamo.edu/sac/rhm18.


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