Ashley Verdugo/ Contributing Writer
As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to an end, it’s easy to overlook just how diverse the U.S. is. Fifty-seven million Americans are Hispanic, according to the Pew Research Center. That makes Hispanics the nation’s second-fastest-growing racial group. Miami alone is 70 percent Hispanic while the FIU student body is 61 percent Hispanic.
Although Hispanics make up a large portion of the population and a whole month is dedicated to Hispanic heritage, people are still unaware that their month of representation even exists. Thus, more awareness needs to be raised about it.
Hispanic heritage is observed from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 in celebration of the history, culture and contributions of Hispanics in the U.S.
The holiday began as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. It was then expanded and enacted into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.
Throughout the month, countries such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, Mexico and Chile celebrate their cultures and independence days.
“Being Hispanic means having a sense of community wherever you go,” Daniela Guevara, a sophomore in biomedical engineering, said.
As a Cuban, born and raised in Miami, Guevara appreciates how close-knit Hispanic families are. However, she thinks it’s each community’s responsibility to celebrate their culture, rather than waiting for the country as a whole to recognize them.
Lorena Malavet, a senior in public relations, values the Colombian culture she was raised in and says she carries a piece of her country wherever she goes.
“I’m proud that I grew up with my family in another country and that we are still able to keep our roots and well grounded in our Colombian culture,” Malavet says.
However, Guevera didn’t know about Hispanic Heritage Month until she saw the Snapchat filter.
“A lot of other things have been talked about, things that can be set aside. But the media hasn’t mentioned it [Hispanic Heritage Month].” Guevera says.
Hispanic Heritage Month isn’t as highlighted as other celebratory months because Hispanics aren’t the topic of interest in 2017 unless it falls under the category of illegal immigration.
“When people get caught up in the conversation of immigration, they forget those who came here and built a life for themselves without committing crimes. I think that notion [illegal immigration] takes away from the good Hispanics in this country,” Guevera said.
Thankfully, there are many Hispanic icons that are celebrated throughout the month. Malavet has grown to admire Jorge Ramos, Mexican-American journalist, for being “the voice of the voiceless” for other immigrants like him.
“He’s fought for those who have prejudice against Hispanics. He fights against stereotype,” Malavet says.
On the pop-culture side, Jennifer Lopez has made a name for herself in both the Hispanic and American music industries. Guevara shares that although Lopez is an international celebrity, she’s not ashamed of her past.
“She’s a singer, dancer and made it big. But she always makes it a point to go back to her Latin roots,” Guevera said.
Miami is it’s own world. Many of us don’t realize that outside the “305,” the Hispanic diversity becomes a minority.
We are surrounded by the Hispanic culture everywhere in this city. It’s important to represent our Hispanic roots and embrace it with our American lifestyle because this nation progresses every day in its culture too.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
Photo Credit: Junior Pereira