There Should be Something Different About This Year’s Hispanic Heritage Month

LatinaLista — Mañana kicks off national Hispanic Heritage Month.
In the past, there hasn’t been a whole lot of coordination among the different groups of a city in celebrating the once-a-year, 30-day observance.
And that has usually resulted in so many fiestas and parades happening on the same weekend that before we know it, the rest of the month is pretty void of anything.

But this year is different.
Not because it’s a new year, but because it’s a new climate where the Latino community needs to take advantage of the full 30 days — and not just party, but strategize a public relations campaign that tells its side of the story.


Here and there reports are filtering in that some communities are seeing a rise in hate crimes or that legal Latinos are being swept up in the heightened hysteria by their local law enforcement to detain suspected illegals or that mainstream society suffers from the delusion that all Hispanics are illegally here, or just arrived.
Whatever it is, it’s clear that this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month has to consist of more than just a parade and a fiesta.

Mariachis provide traditional music for the annual observance of Diez y Seis celebrations.
(Source: mesilla-nm)

Some cities have realized this already and have formed some unique coalitions.
For example, in New Mexico, 39 local, state and national organizations have formed a Hispanic Heritage Month committee “to promote cultural, educational and entertainment events and programs.”
It’s the first time such a unified effort has been formed.
But New Mexico isn’t alone. In Cincinnati, Ohio, they’re kicking off a Hispanic awareness campaign during Hispanic Heritage Month. Organizers of it said:

So much news and information centers around the undocumented segment of our Hispanic population when in fact the majority of our Latino neighbors are active members of our Greater Cincinnati communities and businesses.

The campaign plans to include public service announcements featuring three high-profile local Latinos.

“This is a positive step that pulls together our community’s media and other resources to improve the characterization of the Hispanic community,” said Neil Comber, an organizer of the local Hispanic Heritage Month.

The Latino community needs to take a lesson from those celebrities who learned that if the camera was going to be focused on them, they might as well bring that focus on a particular cause.
With 30 days to talk about Latinos, why not do it?

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13 Comments

  1. Frank said:

    First of all, I think these kinds of so-called celebrations are unnecessary and divisive. We are all Americans and we should stop thinking of ourselves as separate groups. I might go along with a one day celebration just for the sake of argument but a whole month? That is ridiculous! If we had a White heritage anything, it would be considered racist. I hate hypocricy and I hate seperatism in this country. United We Stand, Divided We Fall!

  2. adriana said:

    I don’t think that celebrating diversity is unnecessary and divisive. African-Americans have black history month, and if you think about it, whoever designated that month as such gave them the shortest month of the year. There is so much to learn in celebrating our diversity that you might even find common ground and common struggles. When the history books have ignored segments of society, I think that you can expect to see these celebrations.
    I actually challenge you to attend one of these celebrations and see if you learn anything. It isn’t as if Latinos turn away others at these kind of events. We want people to learn and share in the beauty of our culture.

  3. Frank said:

    But as I said, it shouldn’t encompass a whole month. History books have ignored Latinos? What are you talking about?
    You know good and well that Whites would never be allowed to have a whole month to celebrate their cultures. If each group can’t have their own, then none should have it. I would rather we just celebrate American history and American culture.

  4. adriana said:

    Yes, the history of Latinos has been missing from most mainstream text books. I don’t know where you went to school, but even in California, where I have studied my whole life, I did not learn about Latino contributions to WWII, Vietnam, the struggle of the UFW, etc. until I was exposed to it in college or outside of the classroom.
    Haven’t you heard about the Ken Burns’ controversy with his latest film?
    I think that you miss the point that Latinos are part of American history and American culture. But given your attitude, you are probably angry that February is black history month as well. I see whites, namely German-Americans, gearing up to celebrate Oktoberfest, and nobody is giving them grief.

  5. Horace said:

    Few history books divide the history of the Vietnam War, or WWII into ethnic subdivisions. If you are like most Americans, you probably read little, if anything specific about these wars. Most 9 thru 12 school books only cover these subjects cursorily, because they also have to cover early American history up until recent times. To divide our history books in a way as to cite contributions by ethnic group and give all equal coverage would make them impossibly large. I’ve read at least 40 books on this subject and have not noted one that covers the contributions of the Irish Americans Italian Americans or German-Americans in light of their ethnic affiliation. Adriana, I doubt that you’ve ever read one book outside the classroom on the subjects of the Vietnam War or WWII. You’re just blowing smoke, Adriana.

  6. David O. said:

    “You know good and well that Whites would never be allowed to have a whole month to celebrate their cultures.”
    No, you have 9 months out of the year.

  7. Frank said:

    Agreed, Horace. Why should history books point out the race/ethinicity of every American who served in a war, etc.? It isn’t important anyway.
    Yes, Adriana I object to Black history month too. As I said, one day to celebrate a particular culture is enough. It shouldn’t be a whole month long.
    David, just what do we celebrate about White culture for 9 months? Oh, I get it, because the majority of Americans are White and always have been, that’s a celebration to you? Sounds like jealousy to me. You shouldn’t be jealous though, Hispanics are the majority in many countries and they celebrate their culture 12 months out of the year in those countries.

  8. adriana said:

    I’m not asking that the history books be divided into ethnic accomplishments. I am simply stating that the history books neglect certain groups, and they gloss over events and accomplishments by white Americans as well.
    I would bet that most Americans do not know much about the history of Santa Fe (the oldest capital city in North America), the role of the Californios in settling the golden state, or the American GI Forum. If Hispanic heritage month can encourage some students, whether they are Hispanic or from any other ethnic group, to learn something new, I think that it is a positive thing.
    We also have an Italian heritage month, Asian-Pacific American month, and Polish American heritage month. George Bush even declared March 2003 as Irish American heritage month.
    http://www.italianheritagemonth.com/
    http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/feature/asia/
    http://www.polishamericancenter.org/heritmo.htm
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/02/20030228-12.html
    All of those groups are most certainly Americans. I don’t think that other people are calling these celebrations racist.

  9. Frank said:

    I didn’t say it was racist. I just think this just divides America into little groups over past ancestry. Let us just celebrate TODAY and Americanism no matter where our ancestors came from. You do know that most Americans were born HERE, dont’ you? If one wants to remember their ancestry in a family celebration that is one thing but I don’t think we need to do this nationwide for any group for a whole month.
    I have never even been to my ancestors country, why would I want to celebrate it? My family has been here for 100 years now. We are just Americans, period.

  10. adriana said:

    “If we had a White heritage anything, it would be considered racist.”
    Frank, did you not make the above statement in your first comment regarding this article?
    We do have “white” heritage celebrations, as is evidenced by the Irish and Polish heritage month celebrations. I don’t think many Latinos are pitching a fit about it though.
    Of course, most Americans, as in US citizens, were born here. Some people, no matter how American they have become, enjoy their cultural traditions. For instance, Greek Americans like throwing Greek festivals and performing traditional Greek dance. Same can be said for other Americans. Some want to celebrate their past to learn about their histories. When we celebrate our histories, we can better prepare for our futures.
    I think that on some level you are interested in Latino culture because you visit this forum often. And I am sure that Marisa’s intention is to educate all Americans about issues that are salient to both Latinos and the larger community.

  11. Frank said:

    Those aren’t really White heritage celebrations as in race. White people came from many countries and their cultures were all different. German culture is different than Irish culture for example. None of these nationalities get a whole month of celebration and there is no White heritage month per se. It would be considered racist by the minorities in this country.
    I am not interested in learning about Latino culture. Being from Calif. we are full up with Latino culture here, it is in our faces day in and day out with the illegal invasion. I came here to discuss illegal immigraton, not culture.

  12. lourdes green said:

    people with a strong ethnic and cultural identity do not and should not stop celebrating rich customs and traditions. We are talking about Art, beautiful music,folklore,incredible food. I for one find mainstream american culture rather sterile and bland.

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