Established in 1968as Hispanic Heritage Week (yes, it was once only a week) by President Lyndon Johnson, in 1988 President Ronald Reagan turned HHM into the 30 days between September 15 —the day five Central American countries celebrate their independence from Spain; plus don’t forget Mexico’s September 16 independence — and October 15. There is even a public law in the books saying that Americans must recognize this month so that, as the government’s official HHM page describes, we all celebrate“the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.”
That all looks good on paper, but let’s be real: U.S. Latinos have a love-hate relationship with Hispanic Heritage Month. Putting the entire invented U.S. Hispanic label aside, for the past few years, many people online have started calling HHM “Hispandering Heritage Month.” The quest to find the worst Hispandering examples (from brands to politicians) has become an annual social media ritual. I am still hoping that the Hispandering aspects of HHM become less and less in 2015, but I doubt it. Nonetheless, Hispanic Heritage Month is something we should still talk about, and this year, Latino USA will try to present the positive —and very likely, not so positive— moments of the month.
We started by asking you, our community: How do you feel about Hispanic Heritage Month?
I’ve created a Storify of the responses we have received in the last 12 hours. As you can see from the conversations, the love-hate relationship with HHM is evident, and you all have A LOT to say. If you want to share your own thoughts, add your comments at the end of this post or tweet us @LatinoUSA or me @julito77. However, there is just one rule that I need to let you know about: you can read it here on my Twitter.
Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15-Oct. 15, is supposed to be a time to celebrate Latino contributions to U.S. society and culture. But for some, it feels like a way to sanitize Latino history in the U.S. Or worse, just another excuse to market to Latinos. Host Maria Hinojosa speaks with Prof. Arlene Dávila and humorist Lalo Alcaraz about the uses and meanings of Hispanic Heritage Month.
This is part of our series on Latino identity, “Somos.”
Click here to download this week’s show.
Lalo Alcaraz is the creator of the first nationally-syndicated, politically-themed Latino daily comic strip, “La Cucaracha,” seen in scores of newspapers including the Los Angeles Times. He is also co-host of KPFK Radio’s popular satirical talk show, “The Pocho Hour of Power,” and co-founded the political satire comedy group Chicano Secret Service. His work has appeared in major publications around the world and he has won numerous awards and honors. Alcaraz received his Bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University, and earned his master’s degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently a faculty member at Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles. Alcaraz was born in San Diego and grew up on the border. He is married to a hard-working public school teacher and they have three extremely artistic children.
Arlene Davila is a professor of Anthropology, Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. She is the author of Sponsored Identities: Cultural Politics in Puerto Rico and Latinos Inc: Marketing and the Making of a People, Barrio Dreams: Puerto Ricans, Latinos and the Neoliberal City. Her book, Latino Spin: Public Image and the Whitewashing of Race recently received the Latin American Studies Association prize for the best book in Latino studies.