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Latinx Heritage Month: Connecting anti-racist scholarship to cultural identity

Andrea Margarita Jacobo, DrPH Candidate and Graduate Student Researcher

Photo illustration by Fernando Augusto

To honor Latinx Heritage Month 2022, we asked Latinx members of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health community what the month means to them. We will be posting the responses throughout the month, which ends October 15, 2022.

Today, we feature DrPH student and Graduate Student Researcher Andrea Margarita Jacobo.

Berkeley Public Health: What is your role here at Berkeley Public Health and how long have you worked here?

Andrea Margarita Jacobo: I am a Doctor of Public Health Candidate and Graduate Student Researcher for ARC4JSTC (the Anti-Racist Community for Justice and Social Transformative Change at UC Berkeley School of Public Health). I am entering my fourth year at UC Berkeley.

What does Latinx Heritage Month mean to you?

Latinx Heritage Month is our way to highlight the beautiful diversity and rich contribution of Latine/x folks in our community. It is a way to share more about how Latine/x America is more than what is depicted in the mainstream. As an Afro-Dominican woman, I have been bridging conversations between the African Diaspora and Latin America. Recently, I was talking with a good friend and colleague who’s of Haitian descent about the tensions between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Blackness within the Latinx context, and how Haiti contributed to the liberation of many Latin American countries. So in essence, Latinx Heritage Month is an opportunity for us to dive into our history and appreciate the many ways Latine/x show up in the world.

How do you celebrate your heritage?

This summer I went to the Dominican Republic with a group of writers, artists, activists, historians, and scholars to explore the Afro-Indigenous history of the Dominican Republic and the respective historical Afro-Indigenous communities of today. We explored how music, food, dance, literature, and history have shaped the Dominican identity while addressing the issues of anti-Black sentiments that plague the community at large. This was the first time I went to the Dominican Republic without my family and was able to connect my anti-racist scholarship to my cultural identity.

How can the school of public health amplify and uplift the Latinx experience in healthcare and public health? 

Disaggregate the data when we’re addressing health inequities within the Latinx community. We are not a monolith, and it is important to note the diverse lived experiences across the Latinx diaspora. Allow the community to define how we identify rather than having to check a box which is always cumbersome.