Why Hispanic Cultural Heritage Month Matters

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"Defend DACA" by Molly Adams is licensed under Creative Commons.

by Alex Huizar

Natalia Carroll and Jackie Sandoval came into Ms. Saucedo’s advisory period and projected a Kahoot game. The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts) seniors wanted the students in the class to be educated about Hispanic and Latinx culture.

Sandoval said it was important for ChiArts students to be informed about stereotypes that she, as a Mexican-American, encounters every day.

“It’s nothing that I feel offended by; it’s just normal stereotypes like calling me Taco Bell or something,” Sandoval said. She wants ChiArts students to have a better understanding of her experience and of the experiences of students like her.

Hispanic Cultural Heritage month was officially September 15 through October 15 in 2017. The assembly took place on September 26 in the school auditorium.

The assembly featured dances — including flamenco and bachata — performed by ChiArts students. There were also an array of other performances, including spoken word, singing, and a live band.

The whole school was invited to come to the assembly, which took place at 12 p.m.

“It was nice. I liked the dances and the song,” said Jupiter Dandridge, a senior in the Creative Writing program. “It’s important because other people need to get involved in other cultures.”  

Mexico, Chile, and Belize each celebrate their independence in the month of September. But Americans whose ancestry can be traced back to Spain, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean celebrate their culture through music, food, and art.

The national holiday started as week-long celebration in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson and got expanded to a month by President Ronald Reagan.

On September 10, 2017 there was a parade in celebration of Mexico’s independence from Spain in the Little Village neighborhood in Chicago.

There are other celebrations throughout the country. The El Barrio Jazz festival takes place in The Bronx, New York from September 15 to 25. The Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. displayed one of the Mexican-American singer Selena’s costumes.

This year, Hispanic Heritage Month is painful for some people.

President Trump announced that he would repeal the Deferred Action Plan for Childhood Arrivals (D.A.C.A.) in September this year. D.A.C.A. is an American immigration policy developed for minors who came to the United States illegally, who would receive a two-year deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit. Many of the people who have been protected under D.A.C.A. are Hispanic and Latinx.

“I have three uncles one aunt that are a part of D.A.C.A., so I’m honestly worried about their kids,” said Sandoval. “They’re so helpless and they didn’t do anything and the youngest is 10 months.”

Sandoval wants to be a voice for people who are affected by D.A.C.A.

“They are really scared right now,” said Sandoval. “I can’t speak for them, but I think as any Hispanic we represent them.”

Sandoval is frustrated with some people who aren’t Hispanic or Latinx because she believes they don’t take the removal of D.A.C.A. seriously.

“It affects everybody, like business owners; people don’t think it’s a big deal but a lot of things are gonna change if all D.A.C.A. members are deported,” said Sandoval.

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