Celebrating The Diversity Of Hispanic Heritage Month

What’s it all about?

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated every year in the later half of This year's theme is "Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation," which recognizes the contributions of Latinx Americans to the United States; descendants of of Spain, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.


As there are over 20 Spanish-speaking countries and 33 Latin American countries, there can be quite a debate over what language (other than Spanish) to use around the festival.


Hispanic Vs Latinx

For the purpose of this article, we'll focus on the wider usage of the term Hispanic. It's important to note that there are different ways to identify as Hispanic, but many people prefer to be called by their country of origin over "Hispanic" or "Latinx." For instance, someone from Mexico may prefer to identify themselves as Mexican American instead of Hispanic American if they don't feel that their culture is reflected in a more broad definition for this group.

Some argue that the term "Latinx" includes Brazil (in which they speak Portuguese) and is respectful of the historic effects of the Spanish Empire (1492-1976). During this period, Spanish colonizers ravaged Latin land, while working, enslaving, and converting its indigenous population. While much of our history and culture comes from these traditional European roots, much of the traditions of the Old World were lost and stolen.

“We were forced to pretend to be European. Any display of our own cultural heritage could draw beatings or worse. We were forced to adopt the colonizer’s culture, but many things survived in secret at home, or hidden inside the colonizer’s culture.” (New York Latin Culture Magazine Editors)


In addition, Latin(x) is becoming increasingly popular among people who do not identify as female or male—or are unsure which gender they fall under—and don't want any gender markers included in their labels.


Those who trace their ancestry back to Spain can refer to themselves as Spanish Americans. In some cases, this term has been used interchangeably with Hispanic but often refers specifically to individuals with origins in Spain or another Spanish-speaking country such as Chile or Argentina.

In order for us all--whether Latinx Americans or Hispanic Americans--to recognize ourselves more accurately within our communities and celebrate our heritage together without confusion about the terminology that differentiates between groups based on nationality (considering how many countries there are across Central America), we have decided here that using "Hispanic Heritage Month" will help clarify what we mean when referring collectively to the event itself. When I use the term Latinx, please understand this as the collective group of descendants of inhabitants of the United States who are of Latin American ancestry.






The event started as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded to a month-long celebration by President Ronald Reagan in the late eighties.


In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation to celebrate the contributions of Latinx Americans. Due to the high participation in Hispanic heritage month festivals throughout the United States, it was expanded from one week to a month-long celebration by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush declared September 15th as National Hispanic Heritage Day. Whoo!


The month lines up with multiple independence days for Latin countries.


Hispanic Heritage Month is so important because it acknowledges the cultures of all Latinx countries. The month coincides with many Latin independence days. Mexico's Independence day is September 16th, while Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua celebrate on the 15th.


This means that Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of many different cultures and their histories! This year I chose to focus on Mexican culture since it has such a large influence on my own life and family history. You can make your own Mexican-inspired meal or learn more about contemporary Mexican culture by reading books like Living Beyond Borders: Growing up Mexican in America by Margarita Longoria.

This year, the theme is "Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation ."


The theme is a reminder that the Hispanic community is an enormous part of the American fabric, and that we are stronger together. The inclusivity of all Hispanics and Latinxs will create a stronger, better America.

As you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month this year, take some time to learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month and the history of its observance.




Spotlight the contributions of Hispanic culture to the United States, with particular emphasis on celebrating heritage rooted in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America


It's also a time to recognize that this month isn’t just about what we’ve done—it's also about what it means for us going forward. As president Barack Obama said in 2016: “Immigrants aren’t somehow changing the American character; Immigrants ARE the American character.."


It's important to remember that the Hispanic heritage encapsulates so many different demographics of people. Because of this large, chaotic movement towards the Americas, there's a little bit of every ethnicity that falls under the “Hispanic” umbrella. Our Roots are interconnected with Asian Heritage, African Diaspora, Arab stories, and Jewish ancestries. We are way more connected than we were ever taught. (New York Latin Culture Magazine Editors)


Other ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month


Hispanic Heritage Month is a great way to learn about the rich cultural heritage of Hispanic Americans. There are many different types of Hispanic Americans, with different backgrounds and experiences.


For example, you could read books by Hispanic authors or explore Latinx cultures in your area. You could watch movies by and including Latinx team members, support local Latinx businesses, make a dish using Nopales (a kind of cactus) or understand the history and culture of America's past through its Spanish roots!

If you're interested in learning more about these topics we've provided some resources below:



Learn:

  • Read about the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943 here

  • Check out this awesome article by New York Latin Culture Magazine here

  • Understand the current social issues surrounding the Latinx community here

  • Study the real reasons behind the Mexican American War here

Shop:

  • Find sustainable, chic bath and home swaps at VOLVERde

  • Grab The Honey Pot Company's menstrual products on your next target run or straight from their website

  • Express your roots with Hija de Tu Madre's relatable camisetas here

  • I'm obsessed with the Valfré, that's all I'll say-> shop here

Explore:

  • Tour through American Latino history at your nearest National Park sites, found here

  • Virtually view the National Archives in the Library of Congress on their website

  • Try authentic Latin recipes that you haven't tried before

  • Get involved in local festivals and events !!

How will YOU contribute?


Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the many contributions of Latinos in the United States. But as much as we love this month, it can also be a time for reflection. We’re reminded that there’s still a long way to go before Hispanic Americans are truly represented and recognized in all aspects of society—in politics, business, and the arts. And when we look at today's political climate, with its anti-immigration rhetoric and policies targeting Latino communities, it's more important than ever to not only celebrate but also protect and take action. It’s also a reminder to be inclusive and welcoming of all people, no matter where they come from or what their cultural background might be.


Check out our Spotify playlist we've been jamming to here

Works Cited
  • Borge, Jonathan, and Samantha Vincenty. “What Is Hispanic Heritage Month and Why Do People Celebrate It?” Oprah Daily, 11 August 2022, https://www.oprahdaily.com/life/a28134135/hispanic-heritage-month/. Accessed 3 September 2022.

  • Martinez, Sofía. “Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month | Naveen Jindal School of Management.” Naveen Jindal School of Management, https://jindal.utdallas.edu/blog/celebrating-hispanic-heritage-month/. Accessed 10 September 2022.

  • Mora, Cristina. “Making Hispanics: How Activists, Bureaucrats, and Media Constructed a New American, Mora.” The University of Chicago Press, 2014, https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/M/bo15345128.html. Accessed 3 September 2022.

  • New York Latin Culture Magazine Editors. “Hispanic Heritage Month NYC 2022 Actually Celebrates Many World Cultures.” New York Latin