La L.U.C.H.A, the Latinx organization offering virtual events for students of color at Syracuse University
The organization, founded in 1994, was the first of its kind at the predominantly-white institution.
College can be a stressful time for many young people journeying out into the world on their own for the first time. That is especially true for Latino students.
For many, being exposed to new people, and being stripped from your culture, neighborhood, and identity is a situation that no one should ever experience.
According to data provided by DataUSA, only 8.61% of the student population at Syracuse University is Latino, whereas white students make up 52.5%.
To slowly change that reality and provide a safe space for Latinos and students of color at the university, Latinx Undergraduate Creating History in America, or, La L.U.C.H.A. was born in 1994, making it the first of its kind in Syracuse’s history to focus on the diversity, achievements, and importance of Latino and Black culture.
The student organization strives to foster international activism and raise cultural awareness on Syracuse University’s campus.
On May 11, La L.U.C.H.A. highlighted Black culture by throwing a virtual event showcasing the work and poetry of Tupac Shakur.
Alexandra Larios-Garcia, president of Sigma Lambda Upsilon, a sorority at the school, read Shakur’s poem, The Rose That Grew From Concrete over Zoom to an 18-person audience.
Garcia spoke about the “concrete” similarities between Latino and Black identity and the disparities both races face, especially while receiving an education in a predominantly white institution.
Students also referred to themselves as “roses” because Latinx and Black scholars are still determined to “blossom” by creating small businesses, student organizations (like La L.U.C.H.A.), and other events.
Larios-Garcia, an SU senior, came to the school from the San Francisco Bay area, and admitted that she felt very isolated and withdrawn by lack of diversity at first.
“This was the first time I wasn’t the majority, like I was really a minority,” Larios-Garcia said to The Daily Orange. “I’ve always really known that in the grand scheme of things, but I didn’t really feel that until I got here.”
Despite feeling withdrawn, Larios-Garcia took that feeling and got involved in La L.U.C.H.A, where she is now the president.
She also believes that students of different backgrounds and cultures can come to the university and immerse themselves in multiple organizations, so they can feel included.
One student who took the initiative to create her own business from the ground up is Domonique Charles, who founded the apparel company, Basketball Royalty, last July.
The Syracuse alumna spoke openly about the hesitation that she had before she opened up her business, but is now thankful that her endeavor is able to continue, but also spoke about business being compared to white-owned businesses.
“There’s this really horrible stigma that Black-owned businesses, like the prices need to be cheaper and things need to pretty much be free,” Charles said to The Daily Orange. “That’s really unfortunate.”
Charles supports communities by offering discounts for other Black- and Latinx-owned small businesses, which means the support of minority-owned businesses comes full circle at La L.U.C.H.A.
By supporting one another and cheering each other on, La L.U.C.H.A. will continue to be a focal point for Black and Latinx students at Syracuse well into the future.