Culture

Hispanic Heritage Month Is Meant To Celebrate Spanish-Speaking Cultures, But What Does That Mean In The Age Of Trump?

This week is the start of a month long commemoration of Latino culture as Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, kicks off across the U.S. Compared to Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month starts in the middle of a month. This is due to September 15 and 16 marking the independence days of Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. 

The annual observance started back in in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson’s administration as a one-week celebration called Hispanic Heritage Week. It wouldn’t be until years later that President Ronald Reagan proposed extending this celebration into a month-long event. On Aug. 17, 1988, it was put into law officially designating the 30-day period starting on Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month.

But in the age of Trump where anti-Latino sentiments run high, what does this month truly represent beyond just a marketing opportunity for companies to cash in on our culture?

Credit:@itseduardosolis/Twitter

For the next few weeks, Latinos will be at the forefront when it comes to “representation”. In other words, Latinos will be involved in marketing campaigns, corporate social media accounts will attempt to tweet in Spanish and sugar skulls will be all the rage at your local Target. That’s Hispanic Heritage Month in 2019 and something doesn’t seem right about that. 

The problem with Hispanic Heritage Month is that it represents almost everything that our culture isn’t about. That starts with the name itself, Hispanic, which came into use after the 1980 Census to refer to Spanish and Latin American descendants living in the U.S. It’s this lumping of all Latino people under the Hispanic umbrella, whether it applies to us or not, that is problematic. It leaves out countless of groups of people like those who identify as Afro-Latino or Indigenous that are constantly overlooked or never given any representation whatsoever. 

Beyond just the name, the question of it’s purpose and its meaning in this day and age also comes into play. In reality, most Latinos don’t need a month to be acknowledged or be at the forefront of a marketing campaign to feel accepted. Most celebrate their cultural pride every single day.

Hispanic Heritage Month was created by and promoted by the U.S. government to show that we “arrived” as people in this country. Yet in the 31 years since HHM started, Latinos have more than just arrived. We have made ourselves at home and have contributed to U.S. culture, science and art in ways that deserve more than just a month when brands pander to us. 

While some look at Hispanic Heritage Month as a time to celebrate maybe it can serve a better purpose by letting us tell our own narrative for once. 

Credit:@ric_galvan/Twitter

The purpose of Hispanic Heritage Month needs a reboot rather than some faux-celebration about ethnic representation. Instead, the month should focus on how to move our communities forward and how we can share our own narratives and stories. 

For a population group that makes up 18.1% of the total U.S. population, representation has been hard to come by in recent years. The majority of this visibility has been succumbed to President Trump’s antipathy towards Latinos and demonization of migrant groups coming from the Southern border. Then came Aug. 3, when a shooter inspired by the President Trump anti-Latino rhetoric killed 22 people in El Paso. The deadly shooting sent shock waves to Latino communities across the country and placing fear in the minds of many. While this isn’t the first time Latinos have been targeted, the attack represented divisiveness that has once again reared it’s ugly head. 

Yet instead of living in fear, the best response can only be one of visibility and solidarity. The truth of the matter is that Latinos never needed government validation or permission to share our heritage, no matter what month of the year it may be. 

Rather than waste a month grasping onto what others perceive us as, we should embrace our own stories and bring to light the issues we face everyday. In reality, no month long celebration will ever validate our experiences or our stories. But as long as we have the platform, let’s make the best use of it and share our own narratives for once. 

READ: Latinos Are Still Waiting For Their Own Movie Moment As Hollywood Tries Casting More Diverse Films

Latinidad Is Being Cancelled By Afro And Indigenous People Who Do Not See Themselves Represented

Culture

Latinidad Is Being Cancelled By Afro And Indigenous People Who Do Not See Themselves Represented

indyamoore / Instagram

While we’re in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s important to note how the outdated term “Latinidad” excludes a large portion of the Latino community. We’re talking about the existence of indigenous and Black Latinos. The “Hispanic” label specifically includes those from Spain, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month feels completely weird if you’re Afro or indigenous. 

There’s been more of an uproar recently between Hispanic, Latinos, and Afro-Latinos after musical artist Rosalia got awards and praise for her music as a Latin artist. The thing is that she isn’t Latina, she’s Spanish. That entire debacle was just another nail in the coffin that proves how white-washed our society is, and it’s not just coming from Caucasians but Latinos as well. 

People on social media are using the hashtag #LatinidadIsCancelled to discuss anti-Blackness in the Latino community. Not to mention, how society, in general, discriminates against Black Latinos when referring to Latinos as a whole demographic.

Journalist Felice León did a brilliant segment for The Root titled, “Black and Indigenous Millennials Are Cancelling Latinidad” in which she discusses how Black Latinos are not included under the Latinidad umbrella.

“Latinidad just really just centers on the shared history and shared culture, but doesn’t necessarily, like, delve into all of those multifaceted identities,” writer Janel Martinez told León and added she’s straying from the term Latinidad. “And for me, Latinidad ultimately serves white cis-gendered, straight, wealthy men.” Martinez continued, “I am none of those things, so for me, I’m at the margins of this term.”

While we know Latinos are already excluded from significantly from TV and film, the ones that are visible are mostly white Latinos. 

Credit: @TheRoot / Twitter

You ever noticed how the most popular Latino celebs are light-skinned? We’re talking Jennifer Lopez, Camila Cabello, Gina Rodriguez, America Ferrera, Rosalia and that’s just when referring to the women.

The topic of canceling Latinidad shows how racist our own people are against Black Latinos. 

Credit: @EnLatinidad / Twitter

Ever notice how some Latinos praise a baby that is born with light skin and blue eyes? Or how they object to someone dating a Black man? It is a sentiment that has been part of the Latino community for a very long time.

Afro-Latinos face so much discrimination because of their ancestors, their dark skin, and their hair. 

Credit: @juni0r973 / Twitter

How can a group of Latinos fit nicely and perfectly under the Latinidad family if some people there clearly don’t want to include Black Latinos? It’s kind of sad how light-skinned Latinos favor their whiteness as superiority. Black is beautiful. When will the Latino community finally realize that? Thanks to the inclusion of Black Latinos in the media, we’re able to see the representation even though it’s still quite limited.

The exclusion of Black Latinos could also be seen in this year’s Latin Grammy nominations, which excluded a lot of reggaeton artists. 

Credit: @rosangelica4u / Twitter

Another hashtag making the rounds on the internet included #SinReggaetonNoHayLatinGrammy after several artists spoke out against the Grammy’s exclusion of reggaeton artists. The most nominations this year went to two Spanish artists, Rosalia and Alejandro Sanz

While we know some Latinos are racist against their own people, it’s important to know that colonized societies have been white-washed and that cycle continues to this day. 

Credit: @themermacorn / Twitter

How do we break a cycle of racism against our own people? By educating ourselves about the history of our diaspora, and not by closing our eyes to the reality of colonization. We’re not perfect people, but we can learn to be more inclusive by realizing our own hate and blindness. The blatant and longstanding practice of ignoring the Afro and indigenous identities within the Latino community has justifiably left so many people done with Latinidad.

It’s funny how Rosalia was beloved from day one until she starting owning her Latinidad on a public stage. 

Credit: @elliottraylassi / Twitter

During her acceptance speech at this year’s MTV VMAs, Rosalia said, “Wow. I wasn’t expecting this, honestly. Thank you, because it’s such an incredible honor. I come from Barcelona. I’m so happy to be here representing where I come from and representing my culture. … Thank you for allowing me to perform tonight singing in Spanish.”

So if she said she’s representing where she came from, which is Spain, she is certainly not Latina so why is she cradled into that group so openly?

As one person put it nicely on Twitter, @gacd86 writes, “Latinidad isn’t just for white Latinos though. Mestizos participate in the normalization of anti-blackness and the benefit of the exploitation of indigenous communities.” The rampant and dangerous anti-Blackness in the Latino community needs to stop now.

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month.

READ: Spain Has Colonized The 2019 Latin Grammys And Latino Twitter Has Some Serious Thoughts

Here Are 15 Times That Google Paid Tribute To Latinx Culture With The Google Doodle

Culture

Here Are 15 Times That Google Paid Tribute To Latinx Culture With The Google Doodle

Google

September 22nd marks Doodle Day — yes, it’s a thing! Since 2004 Doodle Day has helped raise funds for epilepsy research. “The tagline ‘Drawing a line through epilepsy’ heads the campaign, and participants take part by submitting their doodle, along with a small donation. The Doodle Day team then judges the doodles and awards prizes accordingly,” according to Days Of The Year

There aren’t many doodles with as much reach as Google doodles, which serve as way to educate and inform people all over the world about global history. Of course, Latinxs have been contributing to arts, science, and culture for centuries. 

Check out these 15 Google Doodles that honor Latinx culture and history. 

Mercedes Sosa

Born in 1936, Argentinian singer Mercedes Sosa was known for being the “voice of the voiceless ones.” Nicknamed “La Negra” her social justice lyrics and traditional folk music allowed her to perform at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Sistine Chapel, and the Colosseum in Rome.

Chile’s National Day

The country’s official flag since 1817 commemorates a multiday celebration known as Las Fiestas Patrias to honor Chile’s eight-year struggle for self-determination from Spanish colonial rule. 

Lupicínio Rodrigues

Lupicínio Rodrigues was born in 1914 in Brazil, today his name is “synonymous with the musical genre samba-canção, also known as samba triste or ‘sad samba.’”

Ynés Mexía

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Mexican American botanist and explorer Ynes Mexia received this tribute. In 1925, Mexía traveled to Sinaloa, Mexico to find rare botanical species. On the trip, she fell off a cliff, fractured her hand and ribs, and still managed to return home with 500 species, 50 of which were undiscovered. 

Tin Tan

The actor, singer, and comedian Tin Tan was born in Mexico City in 1915. Tin Tan helped to popularize pachuco culture with films like The Jungle Book and The Aristocats.

Eduardo Ramírez Villamizar

Born in Pamplona, Colombia in 1922, Villamizar was an innovative painter and sculptor. After traveling to Paris and New York in the 1950s to much acclaim, he became a pioneer of abstract Colombian art. 

Ignacio Anaya García

Ignacio Anaya García’ was born in 1895. In 1943, García invented nachos. What more needs to be said about the magnitude of his culinary contributions? Nachos! 

Arantza Peña Popo  

Afro-Columbian artist Arantza Peña Popo made history when she won Google’s “Doodle For Google” contest in 2019. The art entitled “Once you get it, give it back” features two generations of Afro-Latinx mothers and daughters.

Dr. Matilde Montoya

The first female physician in Mexico, born in 1859, Dr. Matilde Montoya petitioned President Porfirio Díaz to be allowed into medical school. Dr. Montoya had already earned her degree as a midwife at 16, but she wanted more. Dr. Montoya paid her success forward. After her application was accepted, she demanded the House of Representatives to change the rules and permanently allow female students into the School of Medicine.

Lucha Reyes

Born into poverty in 1936, Peruvian singer Lucha Reyes beat the odds by becoming one of the country’s most adored singers. Reyes helped to popularize the Afro-Peruvian genre of music música criolla which blended Creole, Afro-Peruvian, and Andean musical traditions.

Evangelina Elizondo

Mexican actress Evangelina Elizondo was born in 1929. She would become a star of Mexican Cinema’s Golden Age. Fun fact: this Google doodle was created by the Mexican guest artist Valeria Alvarez. 

Abraham Valdelomar

Writer and caricaturist Abraham Valdelomar was born in 1888 in Peru. A humorous prodigy, Valdelomar is remembered for his cuentos criollos. In 1916, he founded the literary magazine Colónida, which helped Peruvians discovered fresh literary talent like José María Eguren.

Raúl Soldi  

Argentinian artist Raúl Soldi was born in Buenos Aires in 1905. Soldi was a painter, costume designer, and even did department store windows.

“Recognized in his country and globally, a 1992 retrospective at Argentina’s Palais de Glace attracted some 500,000 visitors and his work was honored with an award at the 1958 Biennale of São Paulo, Brazil.”

Simón Rodríguez  

Venezuela’s Simón Rodríguez devoted his life to educating others. A scholar, philosopher, and teacher born in Caracas in 1771, he would prove to be a precocious student. As a teacher, among his students Simón Bolivar, he proposed creating well-funded, well-trained schools that included students of all ethnicities and social backgrounds. 

Mexican Independence Day

Mexican guest artist Dia Pacheco created this Google doodle to commemorate Mexico’s Independence Day. Inspired by indigenous Mexican crafts and textiles like Oaxacan embroidery and children’s toys, the animated rehiletes are a beautiful homage.