Along the likes of Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and many other observed months, Hispanic Heritage Month in itself holds an underlying hypocrisy. Hispanic Heritage Month reigns yearly, from September 15th to October 15th to honor the contributions and history made by Hispanics in America. According to the national site, “the observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988.”
Undermining the community of people it aims to represent in its government mission statement, Hispanic Heritage Month is in place to “celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.” However, this mission fails to acknowledge the difference between being Hispanic vs. Latinx.
Those of Hispanic descent come from a place of Spanish speaking origin. This includes but is not limited to Spain, Cuba, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, etc. Being Latinx, on the other hand, covers those who are native to Latin America, regardless of what language is spoken in their country/island of origin. This includes but is not limited to Haiti, French Guiyana, Brazil, and more.
This difference alone is where the hypocrisy of Hispanic Heritage month lies, as many countries/islands/communities are branched under the identity and history of being Hispanic, when they are not. The danger of this umbrella label serves to benefit the regions original colonizers, the Spanish conquistadors. Thus, serving a white-washed definition and understanding of the Hispanic/Latinx identity.
This is extremely detrimental, as while the Hispanic label can serve both white/non-white Hispanics, to label someone Latinx descent as “hispanic” undermines their racial/cultural identity. Latinx identities can often encompass labels of color, as Latin America originally housed indigenous populations that later intermingled with African populations during the Atlantic Slave Trade/African Diaspora. Thus resulting in “mixed” ancestry, and ethnic/racial identities that surpass the whiteness of being “hispanic.”
With that in mind, it is simple to see how indigenous and African backgrounds can/are left out of the narrative represented in Hispanic Heritage Month. This leaves a lack of understanding of their cultural/historical impact, subsequently ostracizing their place in what is said to a month to observe their very being.