Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Is it Appropriate to serve Tacos for a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration?

Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2017, at 3:13 PM

This Sunday September 17 the Student Organization of Latinos will host an event at Capaha Park Pavilion 3 from 5-8. We will serve tacos until we run out. Yes, tacos, real tacos. No ground beef or hard shells or cheese in sight. We have called it Tacos at Twilight, borrowing from our local Tunes at Twilight.

It may sound a bit cliché to serve tacos. Taco Tuesday as a doomsday event on The Lego Movie revealed just how ingrained certain latino items have become in the US cultural landscape. You don't have to be in California or Texas or Florida to witness how Latinos have shaped our nation. Our Bootheel region as an agricultural mecca owes much of its success to migrant labor. Spanish names remain as the remnant of Spanish rule in the region. Numerous Mexican restaurants abound. Even Southeast Missouri State has a president of Mexican descent.

So why did we pick tacos instead of, let's say, quesadillas or Costa Rican gallo pinto or Colombian arepas? Latino obviously encompasses much more than Mexican-American. Latinos in the US come from many backgrounds. Some have resided in US territory before the US became a country. Waves of migration brought others from many points of origin, bringing different foods, practices and yes, linguistic variations of Spanish. Corn is not the same word across the Americas: maíz, elote, choclo. There are Afro-Latinos and Asian-Latinos. Some eat spicy food and others can't stomach it. Some are Catholic and others are Protestant, Jewish, Mormon, curanderos or santeros. Some of the wealthiest people in the world are Latino and yet there is also extreme poverty.

All of these identities are blended together in US Latinos. There is no one Latino. Latinos are a vital and necessary part of US growth and prosperity. The documented and undocumented have striven to bring life to our earth, to our economy and to our culture, often working on the periphery. While being from here, many say they don't feel they are from here or there.

So again, why tacos? We felt tacos could be a bridge and a learning tool. First, food brings people together as a bond. It's easier to talk to someone over a meal. We felt having something everyone would recognize would be the bond to bringing the recognition and appreciation for the Latino community to the forefront in a gentle and delicious way. Hispanic Heritage Month is set aside for this purpose. We felt that it was the club's duty to help build this bridge with true inclusiviity, linking both community and students to members of the Latino community. We also saw tacos as a learning tool. Most people have not had a real taco. Tacos have fused and adapted to the US cultural landscape. We thought it would be good to show what you would get if you went to Mexico and ordered a taco. Finally, tacos are delicious so why not?!

So we invite you to come take a moment on Sunday night, have a taco and think just for one moment what our region would be like without any Latinos. The support our local Latino citizens have shown us is heartwarming and we are grateful for their generosity. We have the motto on campus that "We are one." This event puts that motto into action. See you Sunday!