Two Perspectives about Hispanic Heritage Month
Why Hispanic Heritage Month still matters
By Carmen Marsans
I am approaching this Hispanic Heritage Month with uncharacteristic enthusiasm for highlighting Hispanic contributions in our society. This was not the case in the past for me. As an American who happens to be of Hispanic descent, I am known to argue that the celebration was somewhat of a snub to Hispanics. After all, Hispanics have been in the United States since the 16th century with the founding of St. Augustine in 1565. So, why do we need one month of the year to celebrate our contributions and our value as Americans? I have voiced similar opinions regarding Black History Month. Whether African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Irish, or Italians, we are all Americans and aware that what makes our country great is our cultural contributions, right? Maybe not.
Sadly, for the first time in my life I am aware of having an accent and of my grandchildren’s perception of their heritage because of the negative portrayal of Hispanics by some people in our society. As a baby boomer, I have come full circle, from growing up in the 60’s and striving to be a part of a “melting pot” to honoring my heritage as a Hispanic American and realizing the importance of instilling the pride of my culture to the next generation. Our family celebrates Christmas Day with roast pork as well as turkey. My grandchildren’s favorite dish is black beans and rice, and my almost two-year-old grandson starts dancing whenever he hears the music of Celia Cruz.
I am looking forward to the special events that will highlight those such as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage. Most importantly, I look forward to doing my part in pointing out that this country’s greatness is the result of the rich contributions made by Hispanics and the other immigrants who founded it.
So, I welcome the spotlight on my culture, if even dedicated for 30 days, to celebrate our contributions to the arts, sciences, politics, and in defending our democracy. What’s your take? Use #AboutHHM and tag @Comunicadpr.
Carmen Marsans is senior vice president of client services for Comunicad, where she directs and oversees national programs for corporate clients and special projects with international organizations.
Do we still need Hispanic Heritage Month?
By Leslie Linares López
Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) is upon us again and, given political, social and even professional events, this year it brings an array of questions I hadn’t pondered before. How did the monthly celebration come about? Why is it necessary? Is it positive and inclusive? What about other ethnicities and why don’t they all get a month, or even a day of recognition? If not, should they?
While reflecting on these questions I realize that HHM did not play a big role in my life while growing up in Puerto Rico. I happen to be a Millennial. As the daughter of a Nuyorican mother, I am fully aware of the fact that Hispanics have been an intrinsic part of North America for quite a bit, as have so many other groups. If this is the case, why are we celebrated for 30 consecutive days every year since 1988? Simply put, Rep. Edward R. Roybal and Rep. Esteban E. Torres believed it was necessary and fair to recognize and celebrate our contributions to the U.S. as well as our heritage and culture.
I know that most Latinos do love to celebrate their culture during Hispanic Heritage Month and don’t think twice about it. From my perspective, I think it might be time to move on, maybe even pass the baton to the next fastest growing ethnic group if they want to accept it. I believe that we, all 55 million of us, will be ok without HHM.
Celebrating our Latino heritage and culture in 30 days during September and October seems limiting. Most Hispanic/Latino organizations wait to do their most special events during this month in search of a “news hook”. This means that people have to choose to attend and be a part of some events over others, which in turn separates us instead of bringing us together. This brings me to another important point. It is truly amazing how all Hispanic groups come together during HHM but, do you know what’s even more astonishing? How we manage to go back to our “nationality bubble” for the remaining 11 months of the year. Do we really need a dedicated month to remember that there is strength in numbers?
Let’s sprinkle Hispanic culture, pride, and sabor throughout the whole year!
I am Latina every single day of my life. From now on I’ll celebrate Hispanic Heritage Year! Let’s see if it catches on. I am curious to know your opinion, use #AboutHHM and tag @Comunicadpr.
Leslie Linares López is a media relations assistant at Comunicad where she provides support digital and social media, research, content creation, photography, and coordination for client services and events.