How to use Hispanic Heritage Month as an Opportunity to Think Bigger

As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to an end, we shouldn’t stop celebrating who we are. The famous Oscar de la Renta once said, “Your great strength is knowing who you are.” This source of strength comes from our constant ability to recognize who we are and acknowledge our power. 

In this blog, you’ll learn how to continue celebrating our culture and make an impact with our latinidad in our communities. 

There are 56.6 million Hispanics in the United States, or 17.6 percent of the country’s population as of July 2015- U.S. Census Bureau.

Who Latinos Are

We Latinos come from different countries and do not look the same. Our wonderful mestizaje and Native American blood make our community colorful and exciting. We come from all kinds of backgrounds: we are workers, parents, and professionals. But we share identity, language, culture, and history. Latinos have contributed to the USA’s history and participated in the American Revolution, fighting for our country since its beginnings.

History of the Hispanic Heritage Month

During the Mexican-American and Spanish-American wars, The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Treaty of Paris gave the United States territories in the Southwest and Puerto Rico. The Treaties officially incorporated the peoples of Hispanic Heritage into the United States, hence the saying that we “did not cross the border, but the border crossed us.” More recently, in 1968 and under President Johnson, the USA started to celebrate Hispanic Heritage week. Later in 1988, President Reagan enacted a public law to celebrate a 30-day Hispanic Heritage Month, beginning on September 15 and ending on October 15 of each year, to coincide with Mexico’s Independence Day and the independence of five Central American countries. Within the month, other Latin American countries celebrate their independence from Spain.

Mexican Independence Day 2022 at Phoenix City Hall.

Today, thanks to the executive action, many celebrations are led by citizens, government leaders, businesses, and community stakeholders to mark the contributions of the Hispanic/Latino/Latinx communities in the USA.

Celebrating Our Cultura and Thinking Bigger

Hispanic Americans/LatinX use the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration not only to appreciate our contributions to this grand country but to reflect on the power of our authenticity and culture. We proudly share our food, art, and labor with the rest of our community. We use this opportunity to think bigger and to help us overcome challenges, pushing our communities forward.

As we continue to celebrate this Hispanic Heritage Month, let’s keep thinking of bigger dreams by doing the following:

1.-Be proud of who we are

We are complex and varied, but we have common goals: familia, cultura, trabajo, educación (family, culture, work, education). We are proud of our DNA and our cultural imprint. We embrace our African and Indigenous roots as we do our Spanish, Jewish, Asian, and other European Heritage. We express ourselves in the art and media, embracing the latest trends in communication embedded with tradition and language. 

It is important to remember that one in four children in America today is of Hispanic Heritage, so we need to work to nurture the pride of our culture and transform it into a superpower.

2.-Use your story

Our stories are valuable. The LatinX community has incredible tales of survival and triumph, many attached to the immigrant experience. We also have prolific and renowned storytellers such as Sandra Cisneros, Rudolfo Anaya, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Every one of us carries stories worth sharing and keeping. Our family stories teach our children how hard work and determination uplift us all.

3.-Defy stereotypes

We do not fit strict molds easily. We look for ways to be leaders for our community, rejecting all who want to constrain our lives in stereotypes. Hispanic actors in Hollywood continue their fight for better and more realistic depictions of our lives in mass media while creating spaces in new media.

4.- Seek Cultural Inclusiveness

Cultural inclusiveness means that we Hispanic Americans/LatinX want to be portrayed in our uniqueness and authenticity as part of the whole collective community. While doing this, we seek to influence the mainstream. This inclusion helps us dream bigger dreams: We see our young activist as the future president of the United States.

We reject casting games and support depictions of our stories as American stories. We engage members of other communities to participate in our enterprises. As Lin-Manuel Miranda said: “You do not turn off your Latinidad when you enter a boardroom… Everything you learn at your grandmother’s and your father’s feet will serve you in that boardroom. It’s not something you forget about; it’s something you bring. It’s your superpower.”

Let’s participate and use our own Latinidad to change the world and provide inspiration for young Hispanic Americans/LatinX to dream big.

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