By Ella Polynice
Fuerza: The BIPOC Student Union hosted an Annual Hispanic Heritage Banquet to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month on Thursday, Oct. 12, in the Warren Ballrooms at the Angell College Center. Tickets were sold for $7.
On the flyers, they said they were starting at 7 p.m. on the dot, and they kept their promise. The theme for the night was Havana Night. Some people followed that theme perfectly and were all dolled up with beautiful dresses and nice-looking dress shirts for the guys.
As soon as you entered the door, there was lively Hispanic music. The rhythm just made you want to get up and dance.
Beekmantown Conjunto played Bomba with drums, giving life to the almost silent room. Beekmantown Conjunto is a group of high school and middle school students. They entertained with their music and dance moves. They played a Puerto Rican style of music called Bomba. Bomba’s historical origins are rooted in the island’s history of African slavery, but today has evolved into a community expression of Puerto Rican culture.
After 45 minutes of Beekmantown Conjunto playing, the event hosts took to the mic to inform everyone what was to come for the night. Zaniah Smalls came through with all the energy, but her co-host Anthon Brown didn’t match this energy. The next activity in the program was the Merengue Contest with a mystery prize. The contest had a lot of participants, but only two winners were chosen by the hosts and the President of Fuerza, Isabella Rodriguez. The contest was entertaining to watch. The contest winners were Andrew, who looked about five years old and came with his parents to the event, and Jennifer Patron-burgos, who is part of the Desi club. As for the mystery prize, the audience did not see if it was never given. So, was there a prize to begin with? That’s why it’s a mystery.
After all the excitement and dancing, it was intermission time. It is time to enjoy some food and have your picture taken by Eliasar Perez and Ashley Rufino, Fuerza’s public relations team. At the front of the event was a beautiful backdrop that fit the Havana theme where you could take pictures with your friends or solo to remember this Havana night. While eating, the DJ played hit Hispanic songs of the 2020s and other genres of music.
The food looked tasty, but while this event had limited people, the line was long. Event Planner Kayla Campbell handed out plates so the line could move faster. The menu included beef empanadas, yellow rice, buffalo and barbecue chicken wings, salad, boiled broccoli, fruits and brownies.
While the food looked and smelled delicious, it was underwhelming, with some pieces of meat not fully defrosted and cooked all the way through.
The brownies were soft and chocolatey, and the fruits were delightful and fresh.
After the intermission, the hosts proceeded to give the audience a small speech on the importance of knowing your history and sharing it with the world.
“Be proud of our various ethnic roots and love to come together. Don’t you? Tonight, FUERZA Student Union is offering our classroom community the chance to interact, share traditions, and embrace the music, culture, food, and vibrancy of our different backgrounds,” Brown said. “This year’s banquet strives to encourage diversity, inclusivity and cultural appreciation. So without further ado, let’s start off the night by welcoming and enjoying the performance.”
The next treat of the night was a performance by High Voltage Dance Factory. HVDF holds a very high reputation at this school with its unforgettable dance routine. The expectation was very high.The choreography was sassy, energetic and a show-stopper. There were two solos from Michael Johnson and Khalil Moore. The flow and rhythm of this team were smooth as water.
A performance by Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority Incorporated followed. Initially, this routine was a bit shaky because they were supposed to go on after HVDF but weren’t ready to perform. Jade Outlaw and Ileini Espino performed enthusiastically and did a fantastic job, but one of the girls carried the performance with high energy. The song selections were excellent. Next was a performance by Latino America Unida Lambda Alpha Upsilon Fraternity Incorporated. The energy, expressions, and moves were on point. To conclude the night, Allison Heard, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion gave a speech and presented a special gift to the Fuerza members: a large customized banner with the Fuerza logo. It is a heartfelt gift that everyone loves. There is no favoritism, though.
“But in saying it’s a gift for Fuerza, for anyone here from another organization, my commitment to you, all you have to do is invite us to one of your bigger events that you have. Not just a regular meeting. Invite us to one of your big events. Let us come out. Let us celebrate you. And I promise you, I’m going to make sure you get a gift too,” Heard said as she insisted on being invited to on campus events in order to shower members with gifts and “protect culture” while simultaneously disregarding Palestine by only acknowledging Israel.