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While the name of the month-long celebration may be a bit out-of-date, the timing of the holiday couldn’t be more appropriate.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

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Publisher's Note

I moved to the United States almost 20 years ago, and as a sports fan, I couldn't stand the fact that I did not understand how American football worked.

It was impossible not to get infected by the passion and the love New Orleanians have for the boys in the Black and Gold, so I made it a point to learn the basics and join the fun of watching the beloved Saints play.

I was lucky to suffer with a weak team only for a few years, and I was fortunate to be part of the WHO DAT Nation when they made it to the Super Bowl in Miami.

Even though the Super Bowl we wished for this year did not happen, our team gave us a great season, and off the field, many Saints players are doing so much for this community through their foundations and giving back some love to their fan base. Today, The Saints continue to be an essential driving force of our community.

It is amazing what passion and pride can do for the city of New Orleans. The Saints gave us an incredible season! I know we’ve had a few weeks of coping, and many people have decided to party away from television sets the night of the championship game, but I still want to thank the New Orleans Saints for all the joy they gave us this last season.

Like most of you, I'm always proud to yell out loud WHO DAT!

AnaMaria