September 15 kicked off the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, a month where the United States celebrates the contribution and achievements of Americans who hail from Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean.
Congress approved National Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968; just twenty years later that week of observance was stretched to a month. September 15 is a historically significant day that marks the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In fact, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence just days later on September 16 and 18 respectively.
Hispanic vs. Latino
Hispanic is used to broadly refer to individuals with heritage from Spanish speaking countries, and Latino is used to refer to individuals with Latin American origin or ancestry. Recently, the term Latinx has been introduced to be more gender inclusive. This term has been adopted by individuals and institutions alike, though it does face its own unique criticisms.
You can be both, or identify with one. Examples include Portuguse-Brazilians identifying as exclusively Latino, whereas Spanish-speaking Latin American countries like Bolivia or Ecuador can identify as both. For the purpose of the U.S. Census Bureau, the term Hispanic has been used to encompass both populations since the 1980s.
What are you doing at your institutions?
Recently, a bipartisan Senate Resolution introduced by U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and adopted unanimously by the full Senate observes National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week.
The Senate Resolution acknowledges the achievements of the 539 HSIs throughout our nation by designating Sept. 14-20, 2020, as National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week.
Now, more than ever, it’s time to make your students feel valued. As of 2019, “Latinx are half as likely as non-Hispanic whites to hold a bachelor’s degree, and the gulf has widened since the early 2000s.” So in addition to recognizing the value your Latinx and Hispanic students add to your institution, ask: what are we doing for them? How are we providing services to ensure completion?
AACRAO’s Latinx Caucus is open to any and all members looking to be an ally. Join today and confer with the Caucus members about what initiatives they are undertaking on their campuses, or just to learn more.