Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!
From September 15th to October 15th, celebrations of Hispanic culture are in order, stories and the contributions of our ancestors that came from Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean and Central and South America are embraced. Before we became Latinos, Latinx or Chicanos, our ancestors were Hispanic and in 1968, President Lyndon Johnson approved of this observation for just a week (but was later extended to October 15th) to commence on September 15th because of the ties with Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Ricas’ independence day. In addition to this, Mexico’s independence day lands on the 16th and Chile and Belize’s lands on the 18th and the 21st.
Stories of our ancestors are in abundance, different places with familiar struggles, these stories range in time from hundreds of years to recent times. Other Latinx communities are speaking out as there are several communities that do not identify with Hispanic Heritage Month. The 2020 census reported that the Hispanic community grew with a 2.4 percentage in over a decade, making it the second largest racial group in the U.S. The census also reported back that those who identified with “other” rose from a 37 percent to a 42 percent.
While these celebrations take place, there is a repetition of which prominent figures are spoken about. You seem to hear all about the household Cuban singer Gloria Estefan, the Dominican American writer Julia Alvarez, Rita Moreno, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jennifer Lopez, or Lin-Manuel Miranda, who all come from Puerto Rican descent.
What about the Afro-Latino community? Or the Asian Latin Americans?
As the census enables improvements to reach a better accurate depiction of how people self-identify, it has been reported that the U.S. population is much more diverse and multiracial than ever before. Instead of sharing stories of Latinidad, why not shift focus on Black, Asian, indigenous and brown experiences to empower the resilience of these often rejected Hispanics. There are so many figures that are just as brilliant as the people mentioned above.
Tatyana Ali has Indo-Trinidad and Afro-Panamanian roots from her parents. Ali is an American actress who played Ashley Banks in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and is an activist with a bachelor’s degree in African-American studies and Government.
Jharrel Jerome became the first Afro-Latino and youngest to win an Emmy for Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us,” in 2019 for his role as Korey Wise.
María Kodama is an Argentinian well-known writer and widow of Jorge Luis Borges, a prominent Argentine short-story writer. Kodama has Japanese roots from her father and Swiss-German, English and Spanish descent from her mother.
So this year, let’s embrace the diversity in what it means to be Hispanic, let’s share the less known stories and cultures from our Latinx communities. Let’s practice avoiding anti-blackness because we would be rejecting ourselves. In a country filled with Hispanophobia where we are silenced and questioned when we start speaking Spanish, let’s do better.
¡Que viva la unión!