Guest column by Rebeca Herrera Gonzales, senior political science and peace studies double major
Why is it important to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, or Latin@ Heritage Month as we formally call it at Chapman?
Yet, a more important question people often get confused is, what and who is it that we celebrate during National Hispanic Heritage Month?
Many people in the U.S., even Hispanics and Latin Americans, often think that the Hispanic Heritage Month is dedicated exclusively to the celebration of Mexican people and culture in the United States. Related to this is the misinterpretation that the majority of Hispanic and Latin American people living in the United States are Mexicans or from Mexican origin. This misconception might be a result from the fact that the United States borders with Mexico. The city of Orange is approximately 100 miles away from the international border, about a two-hour drive. It is not as distant as we might think. In fact, Orange County is home to a diverse amount of Hispanic and Latin American communities, with more than one million habitants.
This is just one of the many reasons of why I, a Hispanic woman from the border and co-founder of Latin@ club on campus, celebrate Latin@ Heritage Month on our campus: to recognize the different Hispanic and Latin American nationalities that coexist among students and staff from Chapman, to commemorate the people and leaders who have influenced our history and who have fought for the rights of many Hispanics and Latin@s in the U.S. (thanks to them, many of us have had the opportunity to receive an education) and to celebrate and remember the cultural diversity and richness that exists within each country’s customs (food, music, history, language, ideology and traditional clothing).
The observation of National Hispanic Heritage Month started under President Ronald Reagan in 1988 by recognizing a 30-day period from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Consequently, each year, during this time, Americans celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Why from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15?
Sept. 15 represents the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Subsequently, Mexico’s Independence Day is celebrated Sept. 16, while Chile’s Independence Day is Sept. 18. Moreover, Día de la Raza or Columbus Day, which commemorates the discovery of North America by Christopher Columbus, takes place Oct. 12.
Do you want to learn more about this and other topics or issues related to the Latin American and Hispanic community at Chapman University? Feel free to contact the Latin American Student Association at firstname.lastname@example.org or look for us on Facebook as Chapman LASA. Even though we are a cultural club on campus that seeks to represent and unite the Latin American student community, our opinions and ideas do not represent or speak for each of the members of the whole Latin@ and Hispanic on campus and in the U.S.
We invite you all to join us to celebrate together Latin@ Heritage Month at Chapman University in our all-inclusive events.