“Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.”Cesar Chavez
According to the United States Census Bureau, the U.S. population is roughly 332,693,997. About 18% are of Hispanic/Latino descent, the largest racial/ethnic minority group and the second-fastest-growing racial/ethnic group in the United States.
Our diverse Hispanic/Latino cultures have played an influential role in American history. One of the ways to honor these contributions is by celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. It is a time to acknowledge that “Not all of the contributions made by Hispanic Americans to our society are so visible or so widely celebrated, however, Hispanic Americans have enriched our nation beyond measure with the quiet strength of closely-knit families and proud communities,” President George H.W. Bush.
What is Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15 every year. It is a time to appreciate and celebrate the colorful cultures, rich histories, and diversity of the American Hispanic/Latino communities.
It kicks off on September 15 because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Columbus Day (Día de la Raza) is on October 12, which also falls within this 30-day period.
Throughout the month we see a variety of festivals, art shows, conferences, community gatherings, and much more. All in an effort to showcase the richness and diversity within the Hispanic/Latino communities.
Rich and Diverse Communities
As a Latina, I am asked from time to time to speak on behalf of and/or represent the Hispanic/Latino community. While I am honored, I couldn’t possibly do it (not because I don’t want to). It would be unfair and nearly impossible to attempt to represent ALL individuals with such rich, diverse, and remarkable cultures, traditions, and histories. I will, however, proudly share my own personal experiences and/or insights as a proud Latina. I’m happy to be a voice and uplift my community when needed.
One of the biggest misconceptions some people have is that Hispanic/Latino often refers to Mexico or Mexicans. Obviously, that is not true! Hispanic/Latino encompasses a lot more than just one country or ethnicity. It includes Mexico, Spain, and the Caribbean, Central, and South American countries. Hispanic/Latino individuals are often lumped together, trying to put us in boxes to better identify us. But the reality is, we are ALL so unique with our own traditions, beliefs, lifestyles, etc. just like any other racial/ethnic group.
One thing is certain; we are diverse people from different backgrounds and walks of life. We contribute and add meaning and value to what America is.
What This Month Means to Me!
Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to bring awareness and to reflect on how our diverse cultures have influenced and shaped all of us one way or another. It shouldn’t be an “Us Vs. Them” issue but rather a celebration of who we are as a nation. In the words of the great Cesar Chavez, “Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.”
This is a time to get to know the cultures and traditions that make us so different and unique while also embracing what unites us.
How Can You Celebrate?
Hispanic Heritage Month is about bringing cultural richness and diversity into our communities. For those of us who are Hispanic/Latino, it is a time to embrace and celebrate our heritage, our roots, our gente. Treasure the culture and values inherited by our parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc. Be proud of who you are and all that you bring into this world. YOU ARE VALUABLE so celebrate the magnificent being that you are!
If you are not of Hispanic/Latino descent, this is a great time to intentionally learn more, appreciate, and respect the different cultures around you. Remain curious, ask questions, have conversations, and visit places that make you step out of your comfort zone. Go for it!
The Hispanic/Latino Heritage has been a part of the American Culture for centuries and shouldn’t be acknowledged and embraced only one month. But, let’s keep making progress! I invite you to keep learning, growing, and expanding your views.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of The We Spot, it’s employees, sponsors, or affiliates.