Let's Celebrate Hispanic Culture

The Hispanic and Latinx community have shaped the very society we live in. So why don't we celebrate them? asks Rose Taylor.

One Day at a Time (2017 Netflix)

Hispanic and Latinx (the gender neutral term for someone from Latin America or of Latin American descent) media representation is something that we should be concerned about. We live in a world where Hispanic and Latina women average just over half of the salary of a white male. Also, many assume that Latinx and Hispanic people are loud and unintelligent. There’s also this idea that Latinx speak only in broken English. These popular assumptions, reinforced by media, are so damaging.

I can name just four significant pieces of media that feature a valuable representation of Latinx people: Brooklyn Nine Nine - a police comedy that covers issues like assault, sexism, racism and more, while still remaining funny without making minorities the punch line; a second is One Day at a Time which follows the story of a Cuban-American family in LA; thirdly, Coco - a Disney Pixar movie that builds its story around Mexican culture and Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead); finally, Dora the Explorer which is the most popular of the four - a children’s show where Dora teams up with her monkey Boots to collect items and avoid the thieving fox, Swiper.

Out of these one has been cancelled (One Day at a Time), one was cancelled before another network saved it (Brooklyn Nine Nine) and one is a children’s show so over the age of 10pay little attention to it. Coco is generally underappreciated (even though it has won several awards) due its primary focus on Mexican culture - perhaps non-Latinx audiences don’t understand Spanish or some of the jokes.

However, much of the media portray Latinx and Hispanic people as nothing but their stereotypes. The majority of media have solely white cast. This lack of representation meant that I had never heard of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a celebration dedicated to acknowledging the contributions of Hispanic figures to American culture. Imagine my shock when I discovered (on Instagram) that this month existed.

It is surprising that this is such a quiet celebration as there are many Hispanic historical figures. Philip II of Spain ruled during the Spanish Golden Age and El Cid who became Spain’s celebrated national hero after by taking the city Valencia in 1094 from the Spanish Muslims in. He also defeated a powerful Almoravid invasion force.

There are a whole host of important modern-day Latinx figures who have helped shape the very society we live in. Guillermo González Camarena was a Mexican electrical engineer who introduced the colour television to the world. Rita Moreno is a Puerto Rican actress who became the first Latina to have won a Peabody, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award. Luis Miramontes was a Mexican chemist who created the birth control pill while Alexandria Ocasia-Coretz is the youngest woman to ever serve in the United States Congress. Latinx have made real contributions to the world, yet in the UK we don’t acknowledge the month in which they are meant to be celebrated.

President Trump has called the immigration of Hispanics an invasion

Could this be because of the stereotypes surrounding Latinx communities? Probably. We live in a world where small-minded people in the US chant ‘build the wall’ as US President Trump talks of an ‘invasion’ of Hispanics. Perhaps he’s forgotten that white people moved to America and forced Native Americans to live on reservations. Western diseases also wiped out a significant portion of their population.

So, Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month. Remember that stereotypes are engaging and wrong. Latinx and Hispanic people are more than depiction as and President Trump does not define the community. This community is rich with figures who have achieved so much and furthered our society to a point that needs to be celebrated.