This was the beginning premise of guest lecturer Favio Ramirez-Caminatti’s talk at the College of Staten Island (CSI) as part of a series of events in honor of Latina/o Heritage Month. More than 50 people gathered in the Green Dolphin Lounge for Executive Director of El Centro del Inmigrante Ramirez-Caminatti’s lecture, which interactively began with the questions, “How many people here are immigrants?… How many people here are of Hispanic or Latino descent?… Can anyone tell us the difference between Hispanic and Latino?”
The lecture was organized by the Certificate Program in Latin American, Caribbean, and Latina/o Studies (CLACLS) at CSI. The purpose was to discuss community organizing around immigration on Staten Island, particularly in the context of the 2016 election.
Co-organizer, Professor Rafael de la Dehesa, PhD, commented on the significance of the event, saying that, “Staten Island has an increasingly diverse population. In the last decade, it in fact had the fastest-growing foreign-born population of any borough in New York City. This diversity is reflected on our campus and in our classrooms. In this regard, the topic of immigration is something that touches the lives of many our students personally. In addition, it is a topic that has received enormous attention in public debate, even before it took center stage in this year’s election. Unfortunately, the public debate often sheds more heat than light by reinforcing stereotypes and disseminating misinformation,” noted Dr. de la Dehesa, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, adding that one of the missions of CLACLS is to promote understanding and discussion on Latino communities in the United States.
Hispanic Heritage Month is observed in the United States from September 15 to October 15.
El Centro del Inmigrante is the oldest community organization working with immigrants on Staten Island. For more information, you can visit the organization’s Website.