September Awareness: Latinx Heritage Month

Human Services

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With the arrival of September, summer comes to a close, but the seasons changing isn’t the only reason why September is a significant month. Beginning halfway through September, Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month is a celebration of the Latinx community and their contributions and achievements throughout history.

History of Latinx Heritage Month 

Latinx Heritage Month first began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 with a proclamation signed by President Lyndon Johnson. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded Hispanic Heritage Week to a full month, beginning on September 15th until October 15th. The beginning of the month was chosen specifically to coincide with independence celebrations for many Latin American countries. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua celebrate their independence from Spain on September 15th, while Mexico, Chile, and Belize celebrate their own independence on September 16th, 18th, and 21st respectively. 

While the official name for the month is Hispanic Heritage Month, over time, “Latinx” has generally replaced the term “Hispanic” to better represent and celebrate members of all Latin American communities, including indigenous, Brazilian, and other non-Spanish speaking nations. With Spanish being a very gendered language, many have adopted the term “Latinx” in addition to “Latino/Latina” to be inclusive of all who have Latin American heritage, opening up celebrations to a variety of identities. 

How to celebrate 

Whether you have Latin American roots or just want to find a way to engage and learn, there are a few ways you can celebrate and participate in Latinx Heritage Month. 

Support Hispanic and Latinx-owned businesses 

One of the best ways to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month is by supporting and buying from Hispanic and Latinx-owned businesses. If you’re not sure where to start, sit down and do a simple internet search, or reach out to your friends and ask what their favorite Hispanic and Latinx-owned businesses are. After you take a visit to a restaurant or shop, take a moment afterward to leave a positive review online. If you loved your dining or shopping experience, go further by sharing about it on social media with your network. 

Educate yourself on Hispanic and Latinx history 

Learning can be one of the best ways to appreciate another culture. If there are any museum exhibits nearby that document Latinx history or are displaying works by Latinx artists, make the time for a visit and learn a few things! You can also search for documentaries to watch and podcasts to listen to. Read books by Hispanic and Latinx authors. For kids, pick a movie that explores Hispanic and Latinx culture. Just pick anything that allows you to learn more and immerse yourself in the culture, and you might just find yourself with new knowledge and a newfound perspective. 

Attend a local festival 

Chances are, throughout Latinx Heritage Month, there are many festivals and celebrations you can attend. With the many independence days celebrated during Latinx Heritage month, it’ll be easy to find an independence day celebration near you. In addition to independence day celebrations, Día de la Raza falls during Latinx Heritage Month and is celebrated as an alternative to Columbus Day. Día de la Raza, or Day of the Races, celebrates and honors the people, cultures, and traditions of pre-colonization Latin America. You may also be able to find Latinx food festivals to chow down and learn more about the foods that are integral to Latin American culture. 

Nonprofits to support 

Pro Mujer 

Pro Mujer is an organization dedicated to empowering Latin American women and providing access to finance, health, and educational services to help them realize their full potential. In particular, Pro Mujer teaches women valuable skills like entrepreneurship and networking to boost women’s economic autonomy. By donating to Pro Mujer, you’ll help to give women access to online educational resources and create new market opportunities for women’s products and services. 

Spanish Coalition for Housing 

The Spanish Coalition for Housing is dedicated to helping aspiring and current homeowners in the Chicagoland area by providing financial education opportunities, foreclosure prevention and rental counseling, and pre- and post-purchase education. The coalition also provides assistance to low-income households who are struggling to pay their utility bills and mortgages. They are dedicated to preventing homelessness and keeping a roof over the heads of families, as well as fighting housing discrimination and redlining. 

allgo 

Allgo is a nonprofit organization in Texas that supports and empowers queer people of color through education and mobilization. With a combination of cultural arts, wellness, and social justice programming, allgo supports artists and helps to organize coalitions amongst a variety of communities to enact change. 

ACLAMO Family Centers 

ACLAMO provides social services, resources, educational programs, and more for members of the Latinx community, to help them reach their full potential. They have served over 20,000 individuals, families, and children with a variety of services and programs. With their network of local partners, ACLAMO is able to make an impact on members of the Latinx community across the greater Philadelphia area.

Final thoughts 

There are many ways to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month and support the Hispanic and Latinx community regardless of whether you want to celebrate your Latinx heritage or just want to learn more and experience the culture. Do your research and block out some time to get educated and celebrate the Latinx community’s contributions throughout history, 

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