Hispanic Heritage Month Offers Learning Opporunities

September 15 through October 12 marks the beginning and end of Hispanic Heritage Month. In 1968 the celebration only lasted a week and turned into the month-long celebration we know today 20 years later in 1988. And for Latinos that make up around 18.5 percent of the population here in the United States according to the United States Census Bureau, that remembrance and celebration mean a lot. 

Here at BBCHS, Latino students make up 14 percent of the student body according to Ms. Idalia Marin and Ms. Anne Stephens, English Language Learner (ELL) teachers. Regardless of the number it would be important to learn about not only as a way to commemorate it for those who are Latino but also to educate those who aren’t. According to Marin, there is room to improve efforts to celebrate and recognize Latinos during Hispanic Heritage Month. And with a growing number of Latinos in the country, schools and communities should do more to recognize the good they do.

According to National Public Radio (NPR), “Hispanic” is a term that they started using for the United States Census as a way to categorize Spanish-speaking citizens. “Hispanic” is a term that is used a lot to describe Latinos; however this is not entirely accurate, and the two terms are not interchangeable. “Hispanic” is a term that includes those from Spain or are of Spanish descent. Even if Latinos and Hispanics share the same language, they are not the same thing.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH), within the 60.5 million Latinos in the U.S the majority are Mexican, followed by Puerto Ricans, Central Americans, South Americans, and Cubans. These are Latinos, or people of Latin American descent; people from these places can use that term to identify themselves if they don’t feel like stating the country from where their family is from. It’s very important that a distinction is made among Latinos, because their cultures are unique. For example, you can’t say a Mexican is the same as an Argentinian because they are vastly different.

During this month it’s important to reflect on the struggle that Latinos have had as well as all the good they have accomplished. There are many Latinos we can learn about during this month — people who have made an impact. One of those people is Cesar Chavez, an Civil Rights advocate who worked hard to get Mexican-American farm workers better pay as well as better working conditions. That was one step in the right direction for Latinos. Caesar Chavez is an example you can follow to fight for the rights of your community.