National Hispanic Heritage Month occurs during September 15 to October 15 each year. During Hispanic Heritage Month, Americans celebrate the culture, customs and impacts made by people of Hispanic and Latino culture, hailing from regions including Puerto Rico, Spain, Mexico, South and Central America.
In our current political climate, xenophobic rhetoric has become increasingly prevalent. As such, it is more important than ever to recognize the lasting impact of immigrant populations. Here’s a brief breakdown of some notable recent accomplishments in the Hispanic and Latino American community:
They’re intellects: There are many societies in which students can get involved, and these societies provide opportunities to network with other Latinos including SHPE (Society of Hispanic Engineers). In 2008, a group of Latino American students in Tucson, Arizona formed a Hispanic studies curriculum with the help of two teachers at a local high school The knowledge about their heritage and connection to culture saw an rapid increase in graduation rates and a decrease in what the school qualified as "disruptive behavior." Despite these benefits, the governor of the county called the class "anti-American" and moved to have it deemed unconstitutional. Although he reached success at first, student led protests, notably by two female activists within the class and had the ruling reversed in the 9th US circuit of appeals. Paving the way judicially for intellectual prosperity and overcoming of poverty, Sonia Sotomayor, of Puerto Rican descent, served as an associate justice of the supreme court for the US.
They’re our neighbors: According to the US Census Bureau, there were 58.9 million Hispanic people in the United States. Furthermore, 37 million people in the US speak Spanish. See them on television! Some of the most popular television shows have Hispanic and Latino cast members making strides for representation; these include Gina Rodriguez from Jane the Virgin and Sofia Vergara from Modern Family.
They’re overcoming poverty: According to Pewresearch.org, "On average, around 40% of the employed population of Latin America earn wages below the minimum established per country and that proportion is much higher among women (48.7%) and young people aged 15-24 (55.9%). The figure rises to 60.3% among young women." This was one stat that struck me as an area for growth within the intersection of women and Latinos in America. The Latino community is expanding in number within the united states, and their accomplishments are empirically following suit. You can expect them to excel.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a great opportunity for us to reflect on our diversity and learn about the heritage that so many of our fellow American citizens share. We can all do our part this month to accept and respect those around us so that we can learn from each other and embrace our roots.