Each time you log on your to social media account, whether its Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you probably have come across a post that said “Happy National ______ Day.” Have you ever sat back in your chair and thought is this really that important to be celebrated nationally. Some of these national days created seem a bit foolish. But there are some that are very essential to this country like National Hispanic Heritage month. This is way more inspiring then National Donut Day. Sorry donut lovers!
This is nationally recognized each year beginning on Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. The purpose of National Hispanic Heritage is to honor the history, traditions and influences of Americans [citizens] whose ancestors hailed from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America. According to the U.S Census Bureau, Hispanics establishes 17 percent of the nation’s total population and as of July 1, 2014. While the Hispanic population makes up of about 55 million. It’s clear we see the importance and the reason for Hispanic Heritage month celebrating all walks of life in the United States.
A little bit of history on National Hispanic Heritage Month, it was originally created under President Lyndon Johnson for a week but then expanded to a month long under President Ronald Regan. The national event was passed into law Aug 17. The dates chosen are prominent to history because this is when many of the Latin American countries gained their independence. For example countries like Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua and more.
Creating a month dedicated to celebrating the culture and civilizations for a community of people is a humble thing to do. It is reflecting the respect and gratitude you have for that group of individuals. Speaking of respect and appreciation, there should be a week within the National Hispanic Heritage Month dedicated specifically to Afro-Latinos. The African heritage in Latin America is tremendously prominent, with their influences on our food, music, tradition and beliefs. The most we see of it is in our Afro-Latino community with our skin, tone and our different beautiful shades of brown.
The influences of African customs has been around the Latino culture for years and it’s not going anywhere. We will continue to embrace our black heritage while blending it with the Latino culture. But when will our time come when we can get recognition for it. As an Afro-Latina I believe we struggle to find approval from both the black and Latino community. We shouldn’t have to choose or be pushed away.
Last year at the annual Afro-Latina Forum conference was held in New York City on Sept 17. The need for recognition of Afro –Latinos was discussed and a need for accurate census count. According to NBC, Latino activists and professors are working with the U.S Census Bureau to make it less complex for mixed-race Hispanics to account their background on the 2020 Census. The Afro –Latina Forum discussed the structural barriers to full Afro-Latina individuality, prominence and representation. I believe it is inspiring that we have institutions like the Afro-Latina Forum that see what’s wrong in society and makes a path towards change to fix it.
Pedro Noguera, Professor of Education at New York University, believes Afro-Latinos still face discrimination from other Hispanics, according to NBC. “It tends to be that darker Latinos are less likely to get the better jobs, the best positions. The only profession where Afro-Latinos are really visible is athletics, like boxing and baseball.”
That same year at the conference, Jiménez Roman, editor of “The Afro-Latin@ Reader,” believes when you talk of African American History you have to look at Latin America and he said some truly inspiring words. “. “And our Latino culture is filled with African influences. But we Latinos are a community that acknowledges its racial mixture, and at the same time denies its racial mixture.”
I believe by giving a week committed to celebrating the life of Afro-Latinos during National Hispanic Heritage Month it will show that we matter not only in America but to the community we are most unaccepted by. In this week long period each day should be praised with honor for the African heritage influenced on our culture. We will raise awareness for Afro-Latinos because we are enough. Our day will come soon. I can see it and I believe it.