Hispanic Heritage Month in the US

Written by: Erich

Edited by: Sara

Visual by: Sarah

The United States is widely recognized for having a racially diverse population. After all, it is home to a large number of minorities, including Hispanics, Africans, Asians, and many multiracial citizens. Current population projections predict that by the year 2045, more than half of the population will be composed of members of these racial minorities. In particular, the Hispanic community is predicted to make up 24.6% of the population, which equates to nearly a quarter of the entire nation. This is a plausible prediction considering that they currently compose 18.5% of the population, making them the largest ethnic minority at present. 

In recognition of its Hispanic community, the U.S. celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month every year. During this period, many take the time to acknowledge and celebrate the rich history and culture of Hispanic and Latin Americans, as well as their contributions to modern-day society. Previously, it was only recognized as Hispanic Heritage Week, a commemorative week that was first introduced by Congressman George E. Brown in 1968. This 7-day window lasted for 2 more decades until President Ronald Reagan expanded the celebration into a 30-day period. On August 17, 1988, National Hispanic Heritage Month was officially enacted into law after it received the approval of Public Law 100-402. Lasting from September 15 to October 15, the timeline of this celebration is of great importance to the Hispanic community, as it coincides with Independence Day celebrations in multiple Latin American nations. September 15th, for instance, is National Independence Day for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, as these five nations declared their independence from Spain on September 15, 1821.

Here are a few ways in which we Bearcats can celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month no matter where in the world you might be. You can familiarize yourself with the history of the Hispanic community by learning about their remarkable achievements and the hardships they have suffered as a minority. The Zoot Suit Riots is a notable event to look into, as it clearly depicts astigmatism directed towards the Hispanic community back in the 1900s. The riots lasted for 10 days, with US military men targeting the young Mexican American community who were dressed in zoot suits, the latest fashion trend at the time. Besides the riots, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is another remarkable milestone for the Hispanic community, as it outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, or national origin. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s approval of the act led to the demolition of segregation for Mexican Americans, bringing them one step closer to being viewed as equals by others despite their ethnicity. Essentially, this is what the celebration aims to bring about: the development of a deeper understanding of the Hispanic background and culture. You can also educate yourself about the racial discrimination directed towards this community in different regions of the world and in different aspects of modern-day life, such as workplace inequality. For instance, recent records display a large gap in wages between Latinas and white men and women in the US. On average, Latinas only earn $0.55 for every dollar a white man earns and every $0.79 a white woman earns. Those statistics depict a 45% gap between the salaries of a Latina and a white man, and a 30% gap between the wages of a Latina and a white woman, which just goes to show the underlying discrimination projected in modern-day societies. Understanding how issues affect minority groups in our everyday lives is integral towards promoting a more inclusive and diverse environment.

If you find yourself interested in learning  more about National Hispanic Heritage Month, BT invites you to check out the WoRLD Club’s Verus Nuntius podcast for the month of September! Fleur, a current senior and one of the Verus Nuntius managers, explains that “To adequately represent the multidimensional nature of our international community, the WoRLD Club feels it is our duty to highlight National Hispanic Heritage Month. By spotlighting current events in Central and South America, we hope to inform our listeners about developments that are perhaps not on their radars, and create a more well-rounded awareness of current events.”  The Verus Nuntius podcast for this month will be available on Spotify and Apple on September 30, so mark your calendars and be on the lookout for its release!

As members of such a racially diverse student body, it’s vital for us to continue learning more about the different ethnic groups and nationalities through events like National Hispanic Heritage Month, as it is the key to fostering a more culturally aware environment: one where all members of the Bearcat community can be welcomed with open arms even despite racial differences. 


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