Speaker shares experience as Latina-American

Audience members who attend the third annual Latina/o Studies Lecture will hear a different perspective about Latin American studies from previous years, said Miguel Leatham, a professor associated with the event.

Margarite Fernandez Olmos, a professor in the modern languages and literatures department at Brooklyn College, will speak tonight at the event sponsored by the TCU Latina/o Studies minor.

Fernandez Olmos, who has authored, translated, co-authored or co-edited 12 books about Latin American culture, particularly Caribbean people, will offer new insights to the lecture series that had previously focused on Hispanic culture, said Leatham, who teaches courses in the minor.

David Colon, an English professor and former student of Fernandez Olmos, said her experience as a Puerto Rican-American is something unusual even for the Latino community in Texas where many citizens are of Mexican descent.

“Her personal narrative of being descended from the Spanish-Caribbean would really bring an experience to TCU that doesn’t have much of a voice here,” Colon said.

Fernandez Olmos, who is also of Puerto Rican descent, said her lecture titled “On Becoming Latina in the U.S., a Personal Journey: ‘What’s in a Name?'” will be a reflection of her life as a Latina in the United States and why she chose certain areas of study in her career.

“When I started my life they called me one name and the names kept evolving,” Fernandez Olmos said. “I wasn’t born a U.S. Latina; I was born a Puerto Rican in New York and then I was something else and something else. As the years go on you find that people have different names for you and you have to decide how you want to use that.”

The Latina/o Studies Lecture Series was created as a way to publicize the new minor and to represent Latino and Hispanic-American issues on campus, Leatham said.

Colon said studying Latino cultures would be beneficial for students because it would give them an understanding of those cultures that would be useful when they graduate because of the large Latino population in Texas.

Fernandez Olmos echoed Colon’s statements, noting the rich Latino heritage tied to culture in America, not just in Texas.

“Look around,” Fernandez Olmos said. “These are not only our neighbors, but these are people that have been in this country longer than almost anyone else except Native Americans. When Latinos say I didn’t come to the United States, the United States came to me, they were right.”

Third annual Latina/o Studies Lecture

When: 7 p.m. tonight

Where: Palko Hall Room 130