Honoring Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated in the United States from September 15 through October 15 each year. This is a great opportunity to learn about the history, culture, and contributions of Hispanic Americans.
Even though we formally recognize this as Hispanic Heritage Month, the term Hispanic doesn’t represent every culture that falls under this umbrella. That’s why some people might call it Latinx Heritage Month. Latinx is the gender-neutral alternative for Latino or Latina.
What’s the difference between Hispanic and Latinx?
Lots of people use these two terms interchangeably. But there is a distinction between them.
Hispanic refers to people that speak Spanish or are descended from Spanish-speaking populations. On the other hand, Latinx refers to people from Latin America or their descendants.
So, it’s possible that a person could be both Hispanic and Latinx. But not all Latinos are Hispanic. For example, Spaniards are considered Hispanic, but not Latinx. That’s because they are not geographically located in Latin America.
Why does the celebration start on the 15th of September?
Most of the cultural celebrations on our calendar begin on the first day of a month and run to the end of that month. But Hispanic Heritage Month always starts on September 15. And that’s because that particular date has great historical significance.
There are five Latin American countries that gained their independence on that day:
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
In addition, Mexico celebrates their independence on September 16. And Chile’s Independence Day is September 18. Later, Belize was added to the list when it declared independence from Great Britain on September 21, 1981.
Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation
The theme for Hispanic Heritage Month 2022 is Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.
Unidos means unity. What a wonderful concept for this celebration! Together, we recognize and celebrate the contributions of Americans whose roots come from Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean.
There are many Hispanic Americans that have made important contributions to our country. Here are five individuals that are truly inspiring in their work to change the world:
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – A Puerto Rican descendant, she is the youngest woman elected to the U.S. Congress. AOC is a powerful activist and a leading voice for Hispanic Americans in politics.
- Chef Jose Andres – Came to America from Spain when he was young and later founded the World Central Kitchen (WCK) whose humanitarian work serves people around the world.
- Sonia Sotomayor – Became the first Hispanic and Latina U.S. Supreme Court justice.
- Lin-Manuel Miranda – Of Puerto Rican descent, his influence on American pop culture was cemented with his Broadway hit, Hamilton. He is also a gay rights advocate.
- Sophie Cruz – Just 12 years old, she is already known as a political icon for immigration activists. She'll be one to watch!
America is a nation rich with diversity and blessed to benefit from the talents and contributions of so many cultures. Let’s honor our greatest ideals and breathe life into the vision of Hispanic Heritage Month’s 2022 theme - Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.
If you would like to learn strategies and build your skills to better connect with and serve young people of different backgrounds, check out the YIPA training, Cultural intelligence in Youth Work. You’ll be glad you did! It’s free for YIPA members and just $30 for non-members.
You might also enjoy The Passionate Youth Worker podcast episode featuring Felix Martinez-Paz sharing insights about his Hispanic culture through the lens of his work with youth. Please listen to Be True to Your Values, True to Yourself. It's free to everyone.
About the Author
Barbara Van Deinse is the operations director of the Youth Intervention Programs Association (YIPA), a non-profit association of youth-serving organizations. We're your source for exceptional, affordable, personal and professional online learning via The Professional Youth Worker. Join us!
To ask Barbara a question or share your feedback about this blog, email [email protected].