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body images 2019 11 30

During National Hispanic Heritage Month, Take Time to Educate Yourself

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

     Hispanic Heritage Month: a time for celebration and recognition for all the influence and contribution that Hispanic Americans have had on the United States. From the food, to the music, the language and the literature, Hispanic and Latino culture has influenced much of my life, and I am so much better for it. Growing up, I would hear Spanish and English mingle together around a large family gathering nearing 100 people in total with food flowing and music playing. Around my own kitchen table, arepas, tamales, and tostados were common dishes on my plate. Singers like Marc Anthony and Juan Gabriel blasted out of our speakers. I love my heritage, and I love that we get to celebrate it during this time of year. 

     However, I know that most people don’t come from a Latino or Hispanic background. I wish we could spend the entire year educating people on Hispanic culture and all the various backgrounds that people come from in Latin America, but these six tips are a great start to learning about Hispanic heritage.


1. Learning the Difference Between Hispanic and Latino

     These two terms are often used interchangeably, and I still have to look up the difference between the two: Here’s the breakdown:

Hispanic defines people who speak Spanish, come from Spain or who’s ancestry comes from Spain or any Spanish-speaking country. These countries can include any country from Latin America, except Brazil as they mostly speak Portuguese. 

Latinx defines people that come from Latin American countries, including Brazil. This excludes some countries where French is the most common language in Latin American and South America, such as French Guyana and Suriname just to name a few. 

So, someone can be Hispanic and Latinx. This video does a great job at explaining the difference between the two and details which countries have Hispanic and Latinx populations. 


2. Eat ALL the Hispanic Food

     I believe that some of the greatest influence that Hispanic culture has had on the United States would be food. Of course, here in Texas, we are a state full of Latinx and Hispanic people, therefore we are a state full of incredible food options and tons of “Tex-Mex”. However, I would encourage you to head out to your local grocery store and grab ingredients to make your own dishes at home, especially during a pandemic. Look up Hispanic recipes on Pinterest to find some of the best tasting food ever, all from the comfort of your own kitchen. 


3. Read Books from Latinx Authors

     I am an avid reader, so books for me are a great way to explore Latin culture and heritage. Going to a local bookshop is a perfect way to support Latinx authors in their craft and encourages other people of color to write about their diverse backgrounds. To start, here are some books I’d recommend checking out:

  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
  • Sanctuary by Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher
  • How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez


4. Listen to Music in Spanish

     Spanish music has a certain soul and flair that I have never found with music in English. If you Spotify search any song in Spanish and find the lyrics, it speaks to the soul with emotion and depth, while English songs talk about partying or falling in or out of love. I love that whenever I translate a song from Spanish to English, it honestly feels like someone is taking a dagger to my heart (I’m serious). The vocabulary choices are meant to create that grand sense of emotion and longing that English can do in a few plain and lacking words. To start your journey into Spanish music, here’s a playlist of some of my favorite Spanish songs on Spotify. 


5. Watching Movies and TV Shows in Spanish

     The easiest and most entertaining way to learn Spanish? Watching movies and tv shows in the native language. Like in music, Spanish has a passion and intensity that brings even more drama to the lives of fictional characters on the silver screen and on Netflix. Some of my top picks from Netflix include Velvet, El Grand Hotel, La Casa de Papel (or better known as Money Heist), and Las Chicas de Cable. 


6. Actively Listen to Hispanics and Latinx People

     The best way to educate yourself about Hispanic and Latinx culture? Listen to their stories, how they describe their culture, their family, the customs and traditions that make them proud to be Latinx or Hispanic. Don’t limit yourself to this very short one month span to listen, however. Always be proactive and listen to people’s narratives and learn to educate yourself on cultures different than your own. 


This is a time dedicated to Hispanic Heritage, and it deserves to be celebrated. There are so many ways and reasons to celebrate Latinx and Hispanic culture that I could go on and on, but what matters most is giving people the platform and space to share their cultures and stories, no matter the medium. Whether it be food, words, or art, take time this Hispanic Heritage Month to educate yourself and give credit to the Hispanic and Latinx people that have shaped the United States. 

Chantal Canales is a senior journalism new media major at Baylor University. She is from McKinney, Texas, just north of Dallas. When she is not editing articles, she loves getting coffee with friends, reading books, discovering new places in Waco, and working at Fabled Bookshop and Cafe. She hopes to work as a book agent for a publishing house or as a magazine editor after her graduation in May 2021.