Sunday, September 23, 2007
National Hispanic Month
Am I the last person to find out that September 15 marked the first day of National Hispanic Heritage Month? Or are others out there as clueless as I? I happened to notice the small print on the calendar at my son's school and came home to investigate.
Sure enough, since 1988, September 15 - October 16 has been officially National Hispanic Month (or Latino Heritage Month, depending on who you're talking to), designated as such because five different Latin American countries -- Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua -- received their independence on September 15. And Mexico, coincidentally, celebrates their independence on September 16th!
Now here at the Meltingpot, we're all about celebrating diversity, so I am truly appalled that I didn't have a clue that Hispanic Month was happening. And I am willing to bet that I'm not the only one. Why is that? There are now officially like 35 million Hispanic people living in the United States and counting. This celebratory month (which was a week long celebration for 20 years before the U.S. government upped it to a whole month) has been an official celebration for more than three decades so why aren't there commercials on TV? Where are the PBS specials? Where are the books about great Latino/as in history being released to coincide with the big month? In other words, why isn't Latino History Month as big as Black History Month? Even National Poetry Month seems to get more play than Latino History Month.
And don't get me wrong, I know that in other parts of the country where there is a larger population of Hispanic people, there is surely a greater awareness, but still, I think there is at the very least a need for a greater PR campaign for this very important month.
But don't take my word for it. Check out Tolerance.org. On their website they not only explain the importance of Hispanic Heritage month, but they also offer some great ideas and lesson plans to help celebrate this oft neglected piece of American history.
Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!