Latin culture celebrated through Hispanic Heritage Month

by BRITTNY STEGALL//Staff Writer

Graced with the culture that Hispanics and Latinos have brought to the United States, South Plains College has embraced honoring their traditions.

“Sabroso” (tasty) tacos were served at the SPC cafeteria on Sept. 15 to begin Hispanic Heritage Month.

“We served around 400 students that day during lunch,” said Mike Rodreick, food director for the SPC cafeteria. “We have always participated in Hispanic Heritage Month and will continue to do so.”

Freshman Sebastian Garcia not only participates in Hispanic Heritage Month, but lives it on a daily basis.

“Growing up, I had a grandfather straight from Mexico,” Garcia recalls. “He came to the U.S. after the American dream, at the age of 13. His father had just passed away, and he was looking for a better life for his family. He found work in the fields, where he worked all the way through his adult life.”

Garcia’s grandfather married and settled down in the U.S., but he never quit pushing himself. By creating a better life for himself, he also prepared his children and grandchildren for their futures.

“I’m a second-generation U.S. citizen, and I saw first-hand what work they do in the fields,” Garcia said. “It’s not easy. It’s back-breaking labor. When I think of Hispanic Heritage Month, I think of the people still out there that are trying to pave the way for Hispanics in the U.S. People overlook how hard it was for our ancestors to get us here, and we don’t need to take that for granted.”

Dr. Sara English, professor of psychology, teaches about Hispanics and the struggles they faced in her American Minorities Studies courses.   

“I teach them about Hernandez vs. Texas Supreme Court of U.S. in terms of Civil Rights for Mexican Americans and in Texas,” Dr. English said. “I asked the students how many are Texans, and most of the students raise their hands. How many have taken Texas History, and all raise their hands. Then I ask how many have ever heard of the United States Supreme Court case of Hernandez vs. Texas, and none raise their hands. It’s a shame no one has ever taught them about this issue. I also teach them race, class, sex, etc…”

Dr. English said she believes that Hispanic Heritage is more about the history than about the culture.

“I view it as the history, the economics, and oppression.” Dr. English said. “The Hispanic Heritage history, political power, and discrimination. It’s not the culture to me as much as it is the history and oppression.”

Dr. English said she believes that many students at SPC are uneducated about Hispanic Heritage.

“What do schools teach about? Whites, blacks, yellow, pink, purple, and plaid, but never about Hispanic Heritage,” Dr. English said. “We can fix that, by starting a curriculum about it in kindergarten through 12.”

She added that Dr. Armida Rosiles teaches Introduction to Mexican American Studies, Humanities 1301. That is a class that is totally devoted to Mexican American studies, offered at SPC.

“Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate and to remember the people that have made sacrifices that were before us,” said Maria Lopez-Strong, diversity coordinator at SPC. “I think we take a lot of our freedom for granted, and we have had people like Cesar Chavez, pave the way for us.”

Strong said she believes that Hispanic Heritage is about the richness of the different cultures and the pride of the Hispanic people.

“We have pride for our food, language, traditions, and the opportunity,” Strong said. “We live in a day where opportunity is everywhere, and now being a time to seek it. This is a time of reflection and to see where we are now and how far we have come.”

Hispanic Heritage Month, with origins dating back to 1968, is held Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. It is a time when people recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States, celebrating the heritage and culture. The anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guadalupe, Honduras, and Nicaragua is marked on Sept. 15. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18. In Latin American countries, Oct. 12 is not only Columbus Day or Discovery Day, but also the Day of the Race (El Día de la Raza). The Day of the Race honors the many different people of Latin America. These dates all fall within the 30-day period of Hispanic Heritage Month.

The observation started in 1968 under President Lyndon B. Johnson and was expanded in 1988 by President Ronald Regan to span 30 days. To honor the achievements of the Hispanics and Latinos in America, the Congress, by Public Law 100-402, as amended, authorized and requested the president to issue an annual proclamation, which is now known as Hispanic Heritage Month. Hispanics have had a profound and constructive influence through their strong obligation to family, faith, hard work, and service. They have improved and shaped the nation’s character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multicultural customs of their communities.

The term Hispanic or Latino refers to Puerto Rico, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of their race. Today, there are 56.6 million people, or 17 percent of the American population who are of Hispanic or Latino descent. In 2000, there were 35.3 million, or 12.5 percent of the total U.S. population, people of Hispanic and Latino descent.

Hispanics and Latinos have graced the United States in all areas, from politics, to business, film, music, sports, and art. Some of the most influential Hispanic people in film are Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, and George Lopez, among others. In music, Enrique Iglesias, Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, and Selena, undoubtedly influenced Latin music. Businesses whose owners are Latin Americans have grown three times faster than others, generating $2 billion a year. Hispanic influence has also been noticed in politics, where Hispanic occupancy has great relevance. Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush gained Latin voters. In fact, Bush received 40 percent of the Latin American votes during his time.

¡Celebrar el mes de la herencia hispana con nosotros! (Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with us) at South Plains College!

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