Hispanic/LatinX Heritage Month

Sep, 10 2021

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Black Background with White centered text that reads "Hispanic/LatinX Heritage Month" and under small green text that says "More than Just a Month with a graphic illustration of a green cactus on the left and orange illustration of a flower on the right

The observance of Hispanic Heritage Week began in 1968 as a week-long celebration enacted by President Lydon Johnson. Ten years later, Hispanic Heritage Week became a month-long celebration starting on September 15 and ending on October 15, under President Ronald Regan. Hispanic Heritage Month honors the histories, cultures, and contributions of people from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.

While many continue to apply "Hispanic" to celebrate, the Maricopa County Community College District honors “Latinx,” the redefined and inclusive term. Well, why not Hispanic? Hispanic refers to anyone who can trace their ancestors back to Spain, countries influenced by Spain, or  Spanish dialect. "Hispanic" is also meant to encapsulate the Latino community. 

Hispanic promotes the Spanish Heritage, connecting these diverse cultures by linguistic heritage and to Spain specifically. The problem? This makes the term exclusive to Spanish-speaking people. Latinos trace their ancestors back to Latin America, including Brailizans, who predominantly speak Portuguese and are not Hispanic. To further address the issue, the Spanish language includes nouns that are either masculine or feminine.  By only recognizing “Latino” or “Latina” as identifiers, gender-neutral people are excluded and forced to choose between masculine or feminine terms. 

Latinx is an inclusive term of all gender identities and the diverse heritages and cultures of Americans from or with ancestors from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. It demonstrates progress and inclusivity within the community, challenging gender and racial binaries. By recognizing Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month, we are able to empower all layers, complexities, differences, and identities to be represented and seen.

Earlier this year, MCCCD announced nine out of its 10 Colleges have been recognized as Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), a designation from the U.S. Department of Education that recognizes accredited, degree-granting higher education institutions with 25 percent or more total undergraduate Hispanic and Latinx student enrollment. With this recognition, we have better opportunities to apply for federal funds reserved for minority-serving institutions, allowing us to serve our Hispanic and Latinx students with the best possible learning opportunities.

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