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11 Less-Known Facts About Latinos In The U.S. To Kick Off Latinx Heritage Month

It’s that time of year again (much like Pride Month or Black History Month) when corporations and politicians pay a little extra attention to marginalized communities in the United States. And between September 15 and October 15, the Hispanic community, which is largely being rebranded as Latinx by many, will receive this recognition.

Although the celebration of Latinx heritage should be highlighted and celebrated all year long, September 15 (the start of Latinx Heritage Month) coincides with the national independence days of several Latin American countries, which led Congress to mark this week as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968.

As we kick off Latinx Heritage Month 2021, it’s important we learn all we can about our own communities and what we can do to support them. So here are 11 important facts about Latinos in the U.S. you need to know:

Latinos make up almost 20% of the U.S. population in 2020.

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Thanks to new results from the 2020 Census, the population of Latinos in the U.S. (although it’s officially counted as Hispanic) reached 62.1 million, up from 50.5 million in 2010. The 23% increase in the Hispanic population was faster than the nation’s growth rate (+7%) but a slower increase than that of the Asian population (+36%).

In fact, Latinos have helped drive population growth in the U.S. since the White population growth rate continues to decline.

A majority of Latinos now consider themselves to be multiracial.

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The 2020 Census also showed that the number of Latinos who claim to be multiracial has increased dramatically. More than 20 million Latinos identified with more than one race in the 2020 census, up from only 3 million in 2010.

Latinos can be of any race.

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A Japanese Peruvian, a black/Chinese Cuban, a Guatemalan with Mayan roots, and a Lebanese-Mexican-American are all equally Latino, if they choose to identify as such! We’re a worldwide phenomenon, babies.

Not to mention you don’t have to speak Spanish to be Latino.

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De verdad! Many Latinos only speak English or maybe they were raised speaking an Indigenous language instead of Spanish.

A major win: college enrollment for Latinas has grown exponentially since 2010.

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Although access to education remains a key issue for our community, the number of Latinos working towards a college education increased between 2010 and 2020, from 2.9 million to 3.6 million. Latinas largely led the charge, making up a large proportion of Latinx college students, 56% versus 44%. (There is a gender gap in college enrollment among all racial groups.)

Immigration is not the biggest issue for most Latinos when it comes to politics. 

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According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, the most important issue in the Latino community is education, followed by jobs and the economy and healthcare. That’s not to say immigration reform isn’t important to the Latino community — one-third of the Hispanic population that was surveyed said immigration was an “extremely important” issue and in 2013, seven out of ten Latinos said Congress needed to pass new immigration legislation.

Mexican-Americans make up the largest segment of the Latinx population in the U.S.

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More than 60% of the nation’s Latinx population is made up of Mexican-Americans – or about 37 million people, according to Pew Research Center. The next largest group are Americans of Puerto Rican origin with 5.8 million people.

But communities with origins in Cuba, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Colombia, and Honduras each have a population of roughly one million or more. Meanwhile, the fastest-growing Latino American groups in the U.S. are those from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Apparently, Latinos are the country’s biggest shoppers.

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The authors of a recent study from SUNY Buffalo State and University of North Texas found that Hispanics are more likely to be fashion leaders than their Caucasian peers and they also conveyed higher levels of shopping enjoyment than White folks as well.

Many so-called “American” traditions originated from Latinx culture. 

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One doesn’t have to look far to realize just how much Latinx culture has influenced so many facets of American life. many pieces of standard “American” culture were imported from south of the border. For example, the cowboy hat, rodeos, and ranching are all from Spain and Mexico. Several state names like Montana, Colorado, and Nevada come from Spanish words. Even BBQ originated from the intersection of Spanish and Caribbean traditions! (Hint: the word barbecue comes from the Spanish barbacoa.)

Not to mention the plethora of Spanish and Indigenous words that are now part of the English language: chocolate, avocado, tomato, patio, mosquito, cargo, jalapeño, chipotle, and coyote, just to name a few.

Latino Americans have fought in every U.S. war.

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According to the Minority Veterans Report by the Department of Veterans Affairs, over 1.2 million vets in the U.S. are of Hispanic or Latino descent. However, the military sacrifice and service of Hispanic Americans stretch back to the Revolutionary War. Historically, Hispanic soldiers have fought in every single war, both on and off American soil. 

And perhaps most importantly, Latinos aren’t a monolith. And this is not a contest.

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We’re not all old-fashioned when it comes to sex or marriage. We’re not all homophobic. Not every Latino is machista, even though machismo is a pervasive problem. We don’t all vote the same way or for the same political party. We’re a group made up of individuals. And we need others to understand that, as well as one another.

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