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Corporate Performativity During Hispanic Heritage Month

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at American chapter.

Sept. 15 marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month in recognition of the independence of several Latin American countries, such as Costa Rica and Guatemala. Hispanic Heritage Month was set to honor Hispanics and provide an opportunity to recognize their impact. However, it has become a display of marketing efforts and generating profit through changing social media. 

For some Hispanic/Latinx people, the problem arises when during the month, companies display products with the theme of Hispanic Heritage Month in order to profit, when contributions towards the community throughout the year do not keep up with their promises

DC Comics has been called out for its controversial participation during Hispanic Heritage Month. In June 2022, the company decided to reveal special covers to commemorate the cultural recognition month. The covers displayed various DC superheroes surrounded by Latin American food like tacos and tamales, with backgrounds that read “Viva Mexico” and “Platanitos Fritos Cafetería.” As more people viewed the tweet, critiques emerged. Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, a Latino novelist that has his own best selling superhero series and comic book La Borinqueña commented, “I feel that it is incredibly tone-deaf, almost like a parody of our culture when we’re reduced down to food, you know? And that, street food.” He continued, “it feels very exhausting.”

The original version of the artwork featuring superhero Green Lantern was created by the illustrator Jorge Molina, where the superhero was meant to hold a lantern instead of the tamales, and was supposed to pay homage to the Mexican mural La Patria. However, Molina and DC Comics did not reach a legal agreement. Thus, the artwork was not supposed to be released. In spite of this, DC Comics decided to proceed and changed features that later contributed to stereotyping and reduction of identity. 

Latinx and Hispanic people have expressed feeling no connection to Hispanic Heritage Month, having frustration in feeling like its potential has not been reached. Part of the lack of connection is the application of the term Hispanic versus Latinx when referring to the voices that are included and the heritage that the month focuses on. 

“Its purpose… was to be a time to learn about our shared histories, celebrate our culture and take a look at our current status in this country. However, I think that objective has been swallowed up by profit-seeking brands, including ones owned or run by so-called ‘Hispanics,’” said Raquel Reichard, a Latina journalist. 

A survey revealed other comments that Latinx and Hispanic people have made about their sentiment for the cultural recognition month. “Perhaps we ditch the month and commit to keeping each other educated year round,” said Suzy Exposito, a music editor. “I think Hispanic Heritage Month is just another way to commodify culture. Just like Christmas,” said Jessica Alvarenga, a writer and photographer. 

Examples of commodification can also be seen in the Great British Bake-Off with ‘Mexican week’, which included stereotypes of Mexican clothing, making jokes about traditional clothing. In another example, NFLS’ Por La Cultura campaign, which tried to use elements of Spanish linguistics and failed to properly do so. 

Ultimately, a number of members of the Latinx and Hispanic communities feel that society should focus on centering their voices. These groups encourage listening to what the community sees as a successful ‘Hispanic’ Heritage Month, suggesting that brands stop reducing their identity to commodify the month, and instead properly render it and the history behind it. The community asks brands to support issues that the Latinx and Hispanic community face all year round. 

Ela Hernández

American '25

Ela Hernández is a bisexual Latina woman who is passionate about intersectional advocacy and loves to write stories about women empowerment through intersectionality and about taboo topics such as sex. She is Venezuelan and also lived in Colombia for six years so she works to create a community for those minorities who struggle to feel included in the US. Ela Hernández is an International Studies major with a minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality studies.