Latinx Heritage Month

15 Sep Latinx Heritage Month

September 15 to October 15 is National Latinx Heritage Month — a time for recognizing the extraordinary contributions and lasting influence of Latinx Americans. Latinx Heritage Month celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of ancestors who came from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. It began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 with a proclamation signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. However, in 1987, U.S. Representative Esteban Torres of East Los Angeles decided a week was not long enough to celebrate such a rich history, so he penned H.R. 3182. The bill expanded Hispanic Heritage Week into Hispanic Heritage Month.

The September 15 date is significant as it coincides with the anniversaries of independence for countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Additionally, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. For centuries, communities across the diverse Latinx spectrum have played important roles in the building and shaping of the United States, which includes a rich history and legacy that can be traced before the country’s establishment as a nation, particularly in the labor movement. 

In recent times, Latinx leaders that have pushed the labor movement forward for all working people have included one of the country’s most famous labor advocates, Cesar Chavez, who led the United Farm Workers of America. Then there is Luisa Moreno, a passionate advocate for women and immigrant laborers’ rights who helped create a coalition of Latino labor rights activists in the 1930s. But who you may not have heard about is Carmelita Torres, who at 17-years old led the Bath Riots at the Juarez/El Paso border by refusing to take  the toxic “bath” imposed on all workers crossing the border. 

Inclusivity in the Latinx Community 

Latinx populations are growing across the country, as the 2020 US Census reports 62-million people identify as Latinx/Hispanic, making up 18% of the total population. Latinxs have played a major role in driving population growth in the U.S. over the past decade, which grew by 22.7 million from 2010 to 2020, and Latinxs accounted for 51% of the total increase. 

Across Los Angeles County, the Latinx community makes up about 49.1% of the population. That’s 4.9 million people, about 3.7 million of whom are of Mexican descent and about 800,000 of Central American descent.  The data also notes that the amount of Latinxs who identified as white dropped from about 53% (2010) to about 20% (2020). While those who identified as “other” rose from 37% to 42%, and the share identifying as two or more races jumped from 6% to 33%. As fewer Latinxs identify as white, it makes it crucial that Latinx Heritage Month be inclusive in amplifying Black, indigenous and brown and other Latinx voices. 

For this November, it is a perfect time to flex our voting power. 

Pandemic Burden – Fight for Equity

The pandemic further exposed deep-seated inequities for communities of color, amplifying factors that contribute to socioeconomic and health disparities. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about four in 10 adults across the country reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, compared with one in 10 in early 2019. While, Black adults (48%) and Latino adults (46%) were more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder than White adults (41%). In fact, a recent poll from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies found that people in Latinx communities were more insecure about finances and health concerns compared to other groups.

Prices for everyday commodities are increasing and the economy is heading towards a potential recession. There’s a heightened fear of eviction, issues with being able to afford groceries, and difficulty addressing health issues are hitting families nationwide. But these serious issues disproportionately impact Latinx families, according to a new national poll by Pew Research. 

As many of us are frontline workers, it’s important to organize around policies that improve our quality of life, like our fight for a living wage, and recognize the dignity of the lives that we lead. 

Although the month comes with its flaws, it provides an important opportunity to think about diversity, equity and inclusion, and how we engage and talk about racial and social justice within the Latinx community. Latinx Heritage Month can be about issues related to anti-black racism, social change and equity. During this time, let’s recognize how far we’ve come, while also taking the opportunity to organize and mobilize our communities towards reconciling around the important issues of inequities that continue to exist.

Here are some ways to celebrate and support Latinx Heritage Month!

Events to Check Out

Grand Performances Concert: Cumbiaton – Saturday, September 17 at 6 pm
Dance the night away to the rhythm of cumbia! Join this Grand Performances concert featuring Cumbiaton, a cultural movement that utilizes music to uplift communities. This concert is in-person and takes place at 350 South Grand, Los Angeles CA 90017. Register HERE.

COFECA (Confederacion Centroamericana) Parade – Sunday, September 18, 2022 at 10am
Parade and festival to celebrate the Independence of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The parade will kick off at the corner of Pico Blvd and Vermont Ave in Los Angeles. 

East LA Parade Mexican Independence Day Parade & Festival – Sunday, September 18, 2022 at 10am
The 75th annual East Los Angeles Mexican Independence Day Parade & Festival, billed by organizers as the longest running and largest of its kind in the United States. The parade begins at 10 a.m. at Cesar Chavez Avenue at Mednik Avenue and continues west along Cesar Chavez Avenue to Gage Avenue. More information HERE

Heart and Hand Virtual Book Talk: Celebrating Authentic Cultural Representation – Thursday, October 6, at 6pm
Celebrating Authentic Cultural Representation will feature an illuminating conversation between Library Director Skye Patrick and Annette Chavez Macias, Mexican American author of Big Chicas Don’t Cry and Too Soon for Adiós. Register HERE.

CicLAvia: Heart of LA – Sunday, October 9 at 9 am
Grab your bikes, scooters, skates, skateboards and pets—join CicLAvia from 9 am to 4 pm in the Heart of LA. More information HERE

Books To Read

Hermosa by Yesika Salgado, a Los Angeles based Salvadoran poet who writes about her family, her culture, and her city. Salgado is a two time National Poetry Slam finalist and the recipient of the 2020 International Latino Book Award in Poetry. Hermosa is the path to becoming one’s own home. A thread pulled when Salgado thinks about who she is and who she has been. 

Puro Chicanx writers of the 21st Century by Sandra Cisneros, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Rosemary Catacalos. In these pages is writing that goes deep into Chicanx culture and reveals heritage in new ways. This is work that challenges, that is irreverent, that is defiant and inventive. That is Puro Chicanx. The idea of Puro Chicanx is rooted in Mexican ancestral heritage, is about attitude and may overlap with other Latinx cultures. 

Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States by Felipe Fernández-Armesto. An overview of the early history of the U.S. through a Latinx lens. Readers will learn about the Spanish conquistadors that arrived and laid claim to Puerto Rico, Florida, and the Southwest; the missionaries who took the entire west coast for themselves; and the land Mexico lost in the U.S.- Mexico war that later became the entire American southern border.

Barrio America: How Latino Immigrants Saved the American City by A.K. Sandoval-Strausz. While many credit gentrification as the reason many urban cities in the U.S. were revitalized and reinvested in, Strausz’s research reveals that it was actually the Latinx community that was at the forefront of buying homes, starting businesses, and turning cities around, starting as far back as the ’70s.

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