LSA educates students on police brutality, Latino culture through dinner

Latino Student Association works to raise awareness about issues specific to Latino communities and to celebrate Hispanic culture. The club generally meets once each week in order to discuss current events or do other activities such as dancing, singing or cooking.  One of the most important events for LSA is their annual cultural dinner, with this year’s event taking place on Saturday March 26 in the MacVittie College Union Ballroom.

“Almost everyone in LSA comes from a Latino family and almost everyone comes from the NYC metro area,” LSA president junior Jessica Slavatierra said. “So this dinner is a great way for us to share with the rest of the Geneseo community.”

LSA provided attendees with an abundant buffet-style dinner which could be enjoyed while watching a variety of performances by LSA members. The menu included rice and beans, sweet plantains, enchiladas and breaded steak. Everything was topped off with sour cream, freshly sliced avocado and pico de gallo.

Once everyone was stuffed, the show began. There were many different performances, including a group salsa dance, a beautiful Spanish rendition of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” and a powerful poetry reading about living in America with a heavy accent. There was also a video montage which gave the audience an inside look at what the members of LSA do on a regular basis. They showed pictures and videos of the students practicing their choreography in the dance studio, preparing enchiladas in the kitchen and also enjoying the company of their fellow executive board.

The students also put on a play that confronted a plethora of issues commonly faced by Latino youth. Collaboratively written by senior Alex Calderon and sophomore Michelle Soria, the play centered primarily on the tensions that arise between young Latinos and their parents. One character struggled with the differences between the future she desired and the future her mother wanted for her.

“A lot of parents—especially when they emigrate here from another country—want the best for their kids,” Slavatierra said. “They don’t think they can have a good future in the arts, so they’re not supportive, and that’s something a lot of us have experienced.”

Another character in the play found himself being solicited by a gang. The character was ultimately killed as a result of gang violence and police brutality. The serious tone of the play contrasted greatly with the light-hearted and celebratory atmosphere that thrived throughout the other performances.

“It’s great to celebrate Latino culture but it’s also really important to bring attention to more serious issues,” Calderon said. “A lot of people don’t think about things like police brutality all the time––[especially] if it doesn’t directly affect you––so I think it’s important to bring those kinds of issues to peoples’ attention.”

Those messages were brought to the attention of a diverse audience, including other students, professors and residents of Geneseo. Geneseo’s President Denise Battles and her husband Michael Mills also came to enjoy the show.

“I love to come out and see all of the great things our students are doing,” Battles said. “I never really know what to expect, but I was very impressed by all of the talented and passionate students I saw perform tonight.”