Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month

By Christopher Ard

Click aqui para español->Mes de la Herencia Hispana

Every year, from September 15 to October 15, the United States observes National Hispanic Heritage month. During this time, the nation celebrates the significant contributions made by Hispanics to the cultural fabric of the United States. But there’s a problem…or two... What the hell does Hispanic mean?

In our nation’s need to categorize everything, the United States had a problem when it came to people from the southwest and Latin America. Originally, the terms Spanish-Americans, Spanish-speaking Americans, and (my favorite) Spanish-surnamed Americans were used to describe this group of people. However, the leaders of our country quickly realized that not every Latino could speak Spanish, not all Latinos have Spanish last names, and many Latin Americans are actually native American with no Spanish ancestry.

So, the term Hispanic was invented to group all of us who dance, eat beans, live south of Texas and Florida, are likely Catholic, and usually a shade or two browner than most people. It derived from the term Hispania which is the old Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula which has something to do with rabbits--but that’s not what this article is about.

Since 1988, after Ronald Reagan signed the National Hispanic Heritage Month into law, there has been much controversy about the name. Probably the biggest problem with the name is that it leaves out Brazilians. That’s right--National Hispanic Heritage month leaves out the most populous country in Latin America; although if you ask a Brazilian-American, they absolutely identify with other Latinos.

While the name of the month-long celebration may be a bit out-of-date, the timing of the holiday couldn’t be more appropriate. The independence days of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica are all on September 15th. Mexico’s independence is on the 16th, while Chile celebrates on the 18th.

Of course, like it or not, the United States celebrates Christopher Columbus’ conquest of the Americas on October 12--although many of us may know it as Dia de la Raza, or Day of the Race which is a great way to end this article.

Most Latinos outside of the United States don’t refer to themselves as Latinos. They are more likely to identify with their country of origin, or even their region of the country. Terms like Latino, Hispanic, Spanish-speakers, etc., were used to identify something or some people who were new to the current culture. At times, this was done to marginalize minorities because the dominant culture felt threatened. But, they were also used to unite a group of people who share a very similar culture. Some of us dance salsa, some bachata, others champeta colombiana.

Some of us speak Castellano, Quichua, Portuguese, and/or English. Many of us are Catholic, but not all of us go to church. This National Hispanic Heritage Month take a moment to learn about the other countries of Latin America--including Brazil; after all, we’re all related... at least according to the United States government.

Christopher Ard

Writer/Escritor

We are NOLA/Somos NOLA

Louisiana / Mexico

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Publisher's Note

Ready for the outdoors!

Although we do not have very well defined seasons, the weather changes enough to create different vibes in and around the city.

The moderate Spring weather accompanied with sunny clear skies is inviting to get back to the outdoors and be more active. The backyard also gets more use in the form of the very Louisiana tradition of the crawfish boil, which we learn more about in our food section.

Short day-trips are perfect during Spring and the Northshore offers some amazing destinations for nature and food lovers. Just sitting down on the bank of the Tchefuncte River, looking at the boats pass by can be a relaxing change of pace and scenery.

In this edition, we visit the Northshore to explore some of the Latin restaurants in the area. We will be coming back to enjoy the different places and activities that the Northshore has to offer. St. Tammany hosts a vineyard, a safari, strawberry and blueberry patches, breweries, swamp tours, museums, kayaking, and tubing, among so many other interesting things. The Northshore is the perfect destination when you need a little getaway.

But for now, we prepare to get outdoors in New Orleans to enjoy the great music during French Quarter Fest and to see the national and international superstars coming to Jazzfest. See you out there!

AnaMaria