Sept. 15 marks the start of Latinx Heritage Month, a time dedicated to celebrating the contributions and achievements of Latinx and Hispanic Americans.
In 1968 President Lyndon Johnson first acknowledged National Hispanic Heritage Week, during which Americans would pay tribute to Hispanic culture and history. Since then, the event has evolved into an annual month-long celebration, beginning in the middle of the September to commemorate the independence day of several Central American countries, including Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and Chile. Each year the month features a unique theme, decided by The National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers . For 2021 the theme is “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.”
To celebrate, Marlborough’s Latinx affinity group, Organized Latinx Exchange, will be hosting activities open to all members of the Marlborough community. The aim of these activities is to encourage students and faculty to engage with the Latinx community. Additionally, this year’s OLÉ members will host a Latino Family BBQ on Saturday, Sept. 11 which will serve as both a celebration of Latinx heritage as well as a time to welcome new families. Those interested in attending should contact the OLÉ Faculty Mentors Andrea Fuentes and Pamela Wright for more information about the upcoming event.
Many students and faculty within the Marlborough community also have their own familial traditions to celebrate Latinx heritage month. For instance, OLÉ Co-Leader, Eva ’22 said that she and her family celebrate the independence days of each of her parents or origin.
“On August 10 we celebrated Ecuador’s Independence Day by eating all of our favorite foods, and on Sept. 18 we will celebrate Chilean Independence Day,” Eva said. “Since we haven’t been able to travel to South America due to COVID-19, celebrating these moments makes me feel closer to my family there.”
However, not all Latinx individuals place the same importance on Latinx Heritage Month.
“It feels very performative…. It is just something that the government does to demonstrate inclusivity without actual changes,” Dana ’22 said. “More importantly, my family feels like they are being told to suppress their heritage for the whole year except that one month. In our culture, everyday is a day in which we can be proud of our heritage.”
For those who do choose to celebrate, there is a wide variety of ways for people both inside and outside of the Latinx community to individually honor and support Latinx heritage month.
“As an educator, I value this month as a time for everyone to learn about Latinx people who have had an important impact in society and should be celebrated for their incredible contributions,” Fuentes said. “One way that we can all celebrate Latinx Heritage Month authentically is by supporting Latinx businesses in our community, reading books by Latinx authors, watching Latinx films, learning about our history and understanding how this history continues to contribute to some of our struggles today.”
Likewise, Latinx Heritage Month can be an opportunity to educate and inspire younger generations.
“I use it to teach my younger sisters about people who look like us and achieved greatness,” Dana said. “It’s a way to encourage them to reach for the stars. I constantly remind them that Latinx identifying women like Dolores Huerta, Sonia Sotomayor and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez achieved greatness looking like us and advocating for our people. If those powerful Latinas did it, then so can they. Not just during September and October, but every month of the year as well.”