During the months of September and October, countries from Nicaragua and Guatemala to Mexico and Brazil celebrate their independence from colonial rule. Spanning from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15,
National Latinx Heritage Month — dubbed National Hispanic Heritage Month by President Ronald Regan in 1988 — is meant to celebrate the histories and cultures of Latinx people in the United States.
Make the most out of this month by expanding your knowledge of diverse Latinx cultures and lending a hand to the community where you can — and bring that energy with you through the rest of the year.
“We must advocate for Latinx folks every day for the same reason we advocate for any community — because there are undeniable, institutional injustices and violence being committed against our community members,” abolitionist organizer and educator
Andrea Alejandra Gonzales tells Bustle. “Some Latinx [folks] may believe that issues of land sovereignty, exploitation, police brutality, and other forms of violence are irrelevant simply because they are further removed from the impact of violence, however, it is essential to recognize the complex and diverse experiences of the Latinx community.”
If you want to make this Latinx Heritage Month a month of action, exploring the
difference between “Latinx” and "Hispanic" is a good place to start. From there, you can tune into the work of local Latinx arts organizations near you, or donate to U.S.-based groups dedicated to preserving Latinx cultural heritage. If you’re a Spanish speaker, you can sign up to be a poll worker this coming Election Day and serve as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking voters. And if you want to make a more direct impact, you might consider volunteering for an organization that serves Latinx communities near you.
However you observe Latinx Heritage Month, know that you can celebrate the contributions of Latinx people to this country, and fight for Latinx rights, any time of year. As Gonzales says, “None of us are free until all of us are free.”
Here are ten action-oriented ways to celebrate.
Educate Yourself On The Difference Between "Latinx" and "Hispanic"
While there’s a lot of overlap between “Latinx” and “Hispanic,” the two terms aren’t interchangeable. The main
difference between “Hispanic” and “Latinx” is that “Hispanic” refers to anyone whose culture’s primary spoken language is Spanish (which includes Spain, but not Brazil), while “Latinx” refers to anyone whose cultural heritage is based in Latin America (which includes Brazil and the Caribbean, but not Spain).
Some people may have a strong
preference for one over the other, for very different reasons. “ Hispanic” was introduced as a census identifier to group together people of vastly different cultures and identities, whose sole tie was the fact that they spoke Spanish, typically as a result of colonization. Saying Latino, Latina, or Latinx, by contrast, groups people by geographic origin. “Latinx” is a gender-neutral form of Latino or Latina, as is Latin@, but neither translates so easily into Spanish — some people might use “ Latine” instead.
How people choose to identify is complicated. “About half of Hispanic adults say they most often describe themselves by their family’s country of origin or heritage, using terms such as Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican or Salvadoran, while another 39% most often
describe themselves as ‘Hispanic’ or ‘Latino,’” Ana Gonzalez-Barrera wrote for the Pew Research Center.
According to a
2021 Gallup poll, just 4% of respondents preferred the term “Latinx” as an identifier, while 57% reported that “it does not matter to them” how they are labeled. Learning about these differences can help people understand that Latinx (or Hispanic) communities are not a monolith, and the people who make up these communities bring a lot of different experiences and identities to the table. Donate To Organizations That Advocate For Latinx Communities
Organizations across the United States work hard all year round to protect the rights of Latinx folks in this country and abroad. If you have some cash to spare this month, you might consider making a donation to one whose mission resonates with you. From immigration policy and community organizations like
Make The Road NY to direct service and advocacy groups like the TransLatin@ Coalition, you can find Latinx advocacy organizations to donate to anywhere. Support Latinx Representation In The Arts & Media Sign Up To Work Or Interpret At The Polls
Elections don’t just happen when the presidency’s up for grabs — every year, local elections decide representation at your city and state level. Poll workers are essential to a smooth election, particularly bilingual or multilingual workers who can help voters whose first language isn’t English. Getting more Latinx folks out to the polls is essential for increasing representation in government, especially since, historically, Latinx folks have had
the lowest voting rates among all major racial and ethnic groups. If you speak Spanish, you can connect with your local Board of Elections to see if they need poll workers or interpreters. (In some cities, like New York, these positions are paid, too!) Volunteer For Organizations That Serve Your Local Latinx Communities
There’s no better way to take action this month than by serving Latinx communities directly through volunteering. From mentoring students through the college admissions process in order to help close the education gap at
Latino U College Access, to teaching basic computing skills to Latinx community members in Oregon with the Latino Community Association, there’s no limit to where you can lend a hand. ( VolunteerMatch is a great tool for finding volunteer opportunities near you.) Buy Goods From Latinx-Owned Businesses
If you’re in the market for something specific — from seasoning to makeup — support a Latinx business so you put your money where your mouth is.
Loisa is an NYC-based brand that makes classic cultural seasonings like Adobo, Sazón, and more and even their own onion powder, cumin, and other spice stables you likely already use in the kitchen. La Gritona is a tequila distillery that is Latina-run and follows the authentic tequila making processes. Look into Latinx-owned fashion and accessory brands for your fall wardrobe refresh as well. For inspiration, here’s a running list of companies to check out that are made and curated by the Latinx community.
Doing the extra step of looking up Latinx-owned businesses will help support these individuals in their entrepreneurial endeavors and ensures your money is going straight to the source.
Eat At Latinx-Owned Restaurants
Food is an important part of cultures everywhere, and in order to really learn about a culture’s food, eating food from members of those communities is a must. To make finding these places in your area even easier, apps like Y
elp now have a “Latinx-owned” label on their platform so restaurants can self identify as being Latinx-owned and you can go straight to the source to learn about the food that makes these cultures so special. Repost Resources About The Latinx Community
Chances are, if you see an infographic or post on social media that teaches you something new about Latinx communities and Latinx Heritage Month, someone else may find that information valuable as well. Feel free to repost any resources to your Instagram story or Twitter feed to share stories and create even more visibility amongst your followers.
Get In Touch With A Pen Pal At A Detention Center
group of nonprofit organizations have put together programs that allows individuals to connect with immigrants that have been detained. Letter writing gives these people a meaningful, emotional connection to the outside world and is one way to use your time thoughtfully during Latinx Heritage Month. Go Grocery Shopping At A Local Latinx Market In Your Area
If you live in a big city like New York, you likely know of a Latinx-owned bodega in your area. In smaller, suburban communities it may be harder to spot these businesses. Check out a farmer’s market or local food truck owned by Latinx individuals to show your support this Latinx Heritage Month.
Sources: Andrea Alejandra Gonzales, abolitionist organizer and educator
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This article was originally published on
Sep. 28, 2020