Hispanic Heritage Month may be a buzz word we’re all used to hearing, but what does it actually mean? What is meant to be celebrated and why? Personally, I’m not apart of the Hispanic or Latino communities, so I took this as an opportunity to learn. I met with Sofia Duque, the President of the Latino Student Association, here at Christopher Newport University, and had the chance to learn more about the holiday, the cultural meaning behind it, and even it’s personal meaning to Sofia as a member of the community.
Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15th and continues until the 15th of October. Prior to my meeting with Sofia, these dates always confused me. Why have a celebration spanning parts of two different months? Well, Sofia informed me that this time frame is actually when most Latin American countries became independent nations from Spanish rule, a fact she didn’t even become aware of until coming to college. While majority of Latin America was under Spanish rule at some point or another, and still have prevalent Spanish culture, they became independent from this rule at varying times, specifically across this “month”.
The celebration of Hispanic Heritage month is not as “patriotic” or in your face as one would say about the Fourth of July. It’s more individual, even spread out throughout the year, showing pride for one’s culture on a day to day basis rather than only “bleeding red, white and blue” on a specific day or time period each year. It’s also important to note that its rare to see people in Latin America actually celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, as it’s meant as more of a global recognition and less as specific Independence Day celebration.
Hispanic Heritage month is used as a time of education, helping individuals to understand why these countries had to become independent in the first place, or why people had to leave their home countries. It really boils down to trying to understand other people and realize that “we’re all human beings, we just have different histories”. Just because we can’t fully grasp the extent of someone’s history doesn’t mean we can’t recognize and celebrate it.
It’s important to note that those of us outside this community can still support and celebrate the holiday. Start by asking questions! It good to enjoy the food, music and culture, but there’s more to it that, and you should learn about it. You don’t have to become an expert, just delve a little deeper and be considerate!
lSA and Sofia Duque
Prior to writing this article, I had the opportunity to interview the president of the Latino Student Association, Sofia Duque. Most of the information in this article comes from what I learned from Sofia, and I’d like to share a personal statement from her and what Hispanic Heritage Month means to her personally.
” It is a month that holds a space to celebrate my culture in a culture different from mine. It is a reminder that our minority group matters and that there is a reason to celebrate our past and our history. It is important to acknowledge out history and celebrate in order to realize how far we’ve come as a culture”. -Sofia Duque
Lastly, if you’d like to learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month or the Latino Student Association at CNU, please checkout @cnu_lsa on Instagram.