Celebrated from September 15 to October 15 annually is Hispanic and Latin Heritage Month. It is a way to appreciate and honor the rich history and culture of these beautiful communities, and how they have influenced and contrived to American society at large.
Hispanic and Latin Heritage Month starts on September 15 since it is the day when multiple Hispanic countries gained their independence. This includes Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico gained their independence on September 16, followed by Chile on September 18, Belize on September 21, and Puerto Rico on September 23.
The celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month was first introduced in June of 1968 by California Congressman George E. Brown. The push to recognize the contributions of the Latin and Hispanic communities had gained momentum throughout the 1960s when the civil rights movement was at its peak and there was a growing awareness of the United States’ multicultural identities.
The Difference Between Hispanic and Latin-American
While it has been a common temptation to use the terms “Hispanic” and “Latin” interchangeably, it is important to know the differences between the two.
Hispanic describes a person who is of a Spanish-speaking origin while Latin/x/e/a/o describes a person who is of Latin-American origin. The key difference between Hispanic and Latin is that the definition of Hispanic excludes Brazil since the primary language of Brazil is Portuguese.
Multiple countries can be considered both Hispanic and Latin such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela.
In general, there are a number of ways that Hispanic and Latin people might identify themselves as and it is always best to respect whether they have a preference or not!
Did you know that our Founder and CEO is Latina? Learn more as we spotlight our very own CEO, Suz Hernandez, as she celebrates her rich Latin culture and heritage:
Full Name: Suzan Hernandez
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Current Residence: New York, NY
What is your cultural background? How has or has not defined who you are today?
Being multiracial in the US, people are always trying to place you in an ethnic box. Either you're white or brown - not both. But the thing is, my roots are both American and Mexican. Growing up in a single-parent household, I was only raised as an American. It's a surprise for most people when they learn I'm not fluent in Spanish and there's a stigma around having a latin last name and not speaking fluent Spanish. When I was younger, I disliked my Mexican side, I wanted to belong and blend in. It's why I never took up Spanish until later in my adult life. As a kid and teenager I'd face racism when people thought I wasn't white. Even now into adulthood, I still face racism. In my mid-20s, I went to business school and met latin/x/e/ao's from around the world. It wasn't until then I started to embrace my latin side and learn about my heritage (thanks friends!). Starting to learn Spanish again, traveling to Mexico, and learning about its diverse culture - it feels like I'm making up for lost time. As the world is becoming more diverse, us multiracial folks are able to celebrate all sides of who we are. This is one reason why I'm so passionate to fight for equality for all. I understand what it's like to experience both privilege and discrimination - and I believe that all humans are equal. Character is above all else.
What does Hispanic and Latin Heritage Month mean to you?
For me it's a time to reflect on the impact latin/x/e/a/o's have had and still have on society. It's a time for learning and supporting one another. I love scrolling through instagram and learning about latin leaders and history. A few of my favorite accounts are @mujeresdemaiz and @she_sepuede
Who is a Latin role model?
Cesar Chavez and his civil rights activism for the rights of migrant farm workers.
Where do you see opportunities for Latin people today?
The opportunity is focusing on the youth and helping them navigate education and moving up in the workforce. According to Fast Company, "The gap between the labor force and executive representation is wider among Hispanics than any other group. Statistics from 2017 show that Hispanics make up 17% of the labor force. However, they occupy only 4.3% of executive positions in the U.S." We need to lift one another up - and lift up our family in other minority groups. When we rise, we all rise together. Diversity is needed now more than ever in leadership positions.
Celebrate With Us!
As a Latina owned company, celebrating Hispanic and Latin Heritage Month is very important to us. This month we are highlighting all Latin and Hispanic business owners, creators, artists, you name it, in order to support the important work they do and the beautiful contribution they have in our culture and society. Our Reform Collection also celebrates the beautiful range of skin tones of the human race, and is our way of supporting all diverse cultures. Follow along on our Instagram and Tiktok! @mamap.life