- Arlene Isardat
Being Hispanic During Hispanic Heritage Month
Diversity, equality, and inclusion are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s organizations as they demonstrate the importance of acknowledging and celebrating group differences. Hispanic Heritage Month began last week and will last until October 15. This was meant to highlight and appreciate the history and culture of various Latin American and Hispanic countries.
In the U.S. Census Bureau, different citizens’ demographics are recorded, and race and Hispanic origin are one of them. It’s important to note here that these two seem to appear almost mutually exclusive. Despite the concept of race being a social construct to differentiate between social groups and cultures, the Hispanic origin is considered different from the racial categories of Black, White, Asian, and Indigenous.
So, what does it mean to be Hispanic?
To be considered Hispanic means to have been descended from any of the Spanish-speaking countries, either in South or Central America. Latinx is anyone descending from Latin America. One who is Hispanic can be Latinx, but not necessarily vice versa. Brazilians, for example, are Latinx but not Hispanic.
Race, in a dominant American context, is understood to be descendants of Africa, Asia, Europe, or pre-colonized Americas. Hispanics are still descendants of one or more of these regions, meaning Hispanics could still identify with another racial group. During the Spanish colonization of the Americas, there were Spanish European colonizers, African slaves, and Indigenous colonized peoples all mixing races throughout the generations, overall resulting in Hispanics having certain deterministic looks and characteristics.
Sometimes you can tell where someone’s ancestry originates from, but it’s not always the tell-tale sign to confirm identification. It’s often very rude to assume someone’s ethnicity based on how they look. One should never guess someone’s ethnicity; there is always a time and place for those discussions. There are better ways to appreciate Hispanic culture and observe Hispanic Heritage Month.
Firstly, as mentioned before, it’s rude and annoying to be asked “What are you?” or have people guess your nationality. Even more so when that information is irrelevant to the task at hand. Unless the topic or racial background comes up in an appropriate setting or there is a more personal connection, one shouldn’t ask that kind of unwarranted question.
Another way to respect Hispanic and Latinx during Hispanic Heritage Month is to identify notable Hispanic figures that have helped shape society or relevant industries. With the PR industry in America only being made up of 5.7% of Hispanic people, and Hispanics constituting almost a fifth of the American population, it’s important to recognize when and how Hispanic citizens are represented. In the field of PR, there is a Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA) meant to provide resources and insight on Hispanic marketing practices to communications professionals. With chapters from all over the country, it would be beneficial to stay up to date on local chapter events for a better understanding and appreciation of the Hispanic market or Hispanic PR practitioners.
Social media is another great place to be educated on Hispanic culture and issues, supportive of Hispanic businesses and creatives, and advocate for social recognition and change. During Hispanic Heritage Month, countless organizations are doing their part in educating their followers on the importance of respecting Hispanic culture in infographics. These infographics typically hold basic information, so it would be best to do individual research on the topic.
Hispanic Heritage Month has been celebrated for over 30 years, and Hispanic Heritage Week for an additional 20 years before that. Despite all the stigma against Hispanics and Latinx in America, so many goodhearted Americans have continued to show support and respect towards the Hispanic community. With educating oneself on Hispanic and Latinx heritage not taking much time or effort, learning about Hispanic culture could especially benefit aspiring PR practitioners in understanding the Hispanic market and public.
This blog post was written by Arlene Isardat, TSG Representative