Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 to October 15
Written by Danae Howe, Assistant Head of Middle School, Equity and Inclusion, and Taylor Kanemori, Director of Equity and Inclusion
Hispanic Heritage month has stretched from September 15 to October 15. This celebration was originally started in 1968 as a week-long recognition of Hispanic and LatinX cultures and contributions to the United States. In 1988, it was extended to its current month-long status.
We wanted to take a moment to recognize this month and the contributions and think this recognition would be a great time to talk about how complicated terms can be when it comes to race, ethnicity, and culture. In 1988, the term ”Hispanic” was a term used to describe Spanish and Latin American descendants living in the United States and many still use the term this way today. However, many also do not, and this is important to talk about when discussing this month’s celebration. Hispanic now refers to people whose native language is Spanish and LatinX, a gender-inclusive term for Latino or Latina, is now used more commonly to reference people whose ancestry comes from Latin America. Some might identify as both and others may identify with one or the other depending on their or their ancestors' place of origin.
The significance of the September 15 to October 15 span of time is the seven Latin American countries that celebrate their independence from their colonizers during that time, so for many, the label of “Hispanic” does not feel appropriate. Identity is complex and complicated and can shift over time. This includes one’s racial/ethnic identity as well. As people explore their identities, we find that even the language that we use might change and evolve as well. Although it can seem like these things are minor, they are very important for many people who are continuing to construct their racial and or ethnic identities after generations of trauma.
We have included some resources below that address some of the complexities mentioned above and a highlight of Rodolfo ‘Corky’ Gonzales, a Mexican American boxer, poet, organizer, and activist who lived from 1928-2005. His most known piece is “Yo Soy Jacquin” and speaks to the Chicano-Mexican American, experience. Gonzales was known before this piece but rose in fame, popularity, and importance with its publishing due to the way many fellow Chicanos related and still relate to his words.
- Rodolfo ‘Corky’ Gonzales “Yo Soy Joaquin” https://www.latinamericanstudies.org/latinos/joaquin.htm
- "I Am Joaquin" (1969) A video based on the poem directed by Luis Valdez, regarded as the father of Chicano theater.- View on YouTube here
- Latino High School Students Find Inspiration From Epic Poem “I Am Joaquin”- View on YouTube here
- What Being Hispanic and Latinx Means in the United States | Fernanda PonceDoes Hispanic Heritage Month Need a Rebrand?
- National Hispanic Heritage Month Website
- The Smithsonian Art Museum- Our America: The Latino Presences in American Art
- Scholastic Teachers Activity guide- Celebrate Hispanic Heritage