Latinx Heritage Month: Embracing Culture

Latinx Heritage Month: Embracing Culture

Brown, caramel, and toffee colored skin graces the streets with its melanin. Bouncy curls, straight locks, and hair rocking the wavy in between decorate the heads of one of the most racially diverse ethnic group in the world–the Latinx community.

Oftentimes, people may wonder what labels to use when trying to identify people from the Latinx community. While terminology can be confusing, it is important that we all remain educated so that we may continue to support and celebrate with our sisters during the next weeks of Latinx Heritage Month and beyond.

As a quick refresher, or a crash course on terminology, referring to someone as Spanish implies that that person is directly from Spain. This term does not adequately describe those who come from Latin American countries and simply speak Spanish.

On the flip side, hispanic describes the descendents of those from Spanish-speaking countries. As a result, this does NOT include descendents from countries like Brazil and Haiti, where languages other than Spanish are spoken. The word hispanic is also a term coined by the US census to describe people from spanish-speaking countries.

In fact, this month of celebration used to be known as Hispanic Heritage Month, however in an effort to be more inclusive, a new term has been used. The term Latino or Latina encompasses all of the countries in Latin America, even Brazil and Haiti. Additionally, Latino/a has evolved into Latinx, which does away with gender restrictions and thereby making the term more inclusive for gender-fluid people.

September 15 to October 15 marks a time where rich history and culture is celebrated amongst Latinx Americans. The timing of the celebratory Latinx Heritage Month is ideal because it starts on the anniversary of independence for the Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Furthermore, Mexico and Chile honor their independence days on the subsequent days of September 16 and September 18, respectively.

Many Latinx voices have filled history with their rich stories, experiences, and wisdom. If you would like to read personal snippets from Latinx history, please click here: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/tellingallamericansstories/americanlatinoheritage.htm

Yemaya Chapter, Lehigh University

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