By: Georgia Bennet
Every year Rutgers students from an array of predominantly Hispanic backgrounds, come together under the common goal of voicing the grievances they face as a minority community in a protest known as “La Marcha”. I recently went along to the march to speak to the president of RUEP, Rutgers Puerto Rican union about the event and the activities of the society.
Christopher Hernandez who is president of the organization explained that La Marcha was an event that began around 20 years ago, as a way of showing solidarity with people from all over the world who were protesting for better treatment of minority communities. This year the theme of the march was largely influenced by the black lives matter movement – a movement that was ignited following the brutal and unjust killing of a teenage boy in Ferguson last August.
Throughout the past year, the black lives matter movement has grown, and has received masses of media attention and support from countries from all over the world. However following the events of Mike Browns death, many people are hurt and angered by the fact that his killer has not been charged with any crime. Such injustices as these pose the question of whether or not the lives of people from ethnic minorities will ever been viewed as having the same value as their white counterparts.
On this issue, President Hernandez commented that La Marcha is very much about challenging misrepresentation that can often demonize and dehumanize ethnically marginalized groups. He describes the reality of discrimination that many parts of the Latino community face on a day to day basis, and even though we as a society feel we have made progress in terms of civil rights over the past 50 years, there are still strong remnants of racist ignorance that permeate and pollute our society today. Speaking on the recent remarks of Presidential candidate Donald Trump, Hernandez feels that Trump’s views are actually an endemic perspective many people within the United states have on the Latino community, and furthermore the fact that such comments could go so widely un-scrutinized – highlight the legitimacy false stereotypes of the Latino community have been given in the media. La Marcha is an attempt to come together and to fight these injustices, and to give a voice back people who have been stripped of their credibility on account of these stereotypes.
Perseverance is key, and by standing together at annual events like this RUEP has shown its tenacity over the past two decades, and its steadfast approach to improving social living conditions for marginalized groups in society.
Although this year’s theme for the protest was “Black lives matter”, R.U.E.P pride themselves on challenging all forms of social injustices that ethnic minorities face, the society social secretary, Melvin spoke briefly on the fact that the organization really focuses on standing up for all parts of the Rutgers student body who face discrimination. Nevertheless, President Hernandez notes that instead of silencing the grievances of one particular group of people for the sake of inclusion, such as with “All Lives Matter”, we must learn to work alongside each other for a common goal, and allow movements to thrive without hijacking the conversation.
In his closing sentiments, Hernandez notes that whilst these protest may at times seem to go unnoticed, that by opening up the discussion and creating awareness on these issues we as a society can really make a change. Perseverance is key, and by standing together at annual events like this RUEP has shown its tenacity over the past two decades, and its steadfast approach to improving social living conditions for marginalized groups in society.
After seeing the spirit of the RUEP members and hearing their thoughts and feelings on representation of the Latino community, I would strongly urge anyone who has a love for experiencing new cultures, and fostering positive relationships between people of different ethnicities to go to any of the many events the society has planned for this semester.
October is Latino Heritage month, so the society has a range of fun and exciting events planned, for more details about these events follow them on Instagram or Twitter @goRUEP.