September 15 marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. Programs in schools, communities, and the media will run thru October 15 to celebrate this month. I don’t want to seem ungrateful for this generous time allotted to remembering that the Hispanic population is not only one of the largest segments in the U.S., but has also made many contributions to the history and prosperity of this country. Yes, the goal of trying to get to know us better through dance presentations, news specials, and the occasional parade is very nice. One month, however, is not enough. I don’t mean that there should be an emphasis on Hispanic Heritage every month, I don’t think I could handle the tongue-in-cheek news specials all year long, what I mean is that we should have equal representation always.
There should be some truthful mention of our roles in American history. There should be some believable interpretations of our culture in the media. There should be some real respect for us as a major component of the U.S. society and economy. We should be applauded, not criticized, for our desire to keep our traditions and the language that goes along with them. We should be given our due as people with love and law, flaws and beauty, beliefs and pride, variety and acceptance. We are brown, white, black, and every hue in between. We are Catholic, Christian, Jewish, and an assortment of other beliefs that defy stereotypes. We are laborers, philosophers, writers, doctors, students, housewives, and even misfits. We are traditional, old-fashioned, mystics, modern and radical. We are Hispanic, Hispanas/os, Chicanas/os, Latinoamericanas/os, and other labels that define us and divide us.
One month of superficial attention after 11 months of pretending we’re not here is not enough to understand who we really are. It never will be. And, in the meantime, we’re not going away.