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Our month

Por Mariel Fiori
October 2021
They say this is Hispanic Heritage Month, a month that begins on September 15 and ends on October 15 of every year since 1988 when President Ronald Reagan (the Republican who passed the amnesty for undocumented immigrants) and the Congress of the United States expanded what until then was a week, which in 1968 President Lyndon Johnson, with the civil rights movements, had established. They say that this month we celebrate the stories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Basically all of us who have Spanish as our mother tongue, or ancestral, and want to recognize ourselves as such.

It’s all well and good that this is celebrated. Who doesn't like to party? But we shouldn't get carried away by the headlines either, and it's better to reflect a bit. I think that since I came to this country I learned that I was no longer just another person in the crowd, but that I was assigned this label: Hispanic / Latina (now also Latinx). Argentinian? South American? Very well, thank you. Now those of us who come from the 22 countries where Spanish is spoken (I include the United States in this list) are being put in the same bag, that monolith called Hispanidad. Well, we accept it and we do not accept it. The truth is that it is wonderful to feel united with so many people from such rich, diverse and ancient cultures.

From many points of view we are also united in oppression, the current one and the one that already comes from the colonial era. We are united in the systemic racism that institutions make us feel, from the media, to politics and the school, to name a few. They talk about us, but where are we? Latino professionals are needed in places where decisions are made in all areas. In subtle ways, and not so much, the doors are closed, although sometimes there is a window to climb through.

The underrepresentation of Hispanics feels stronger this month when, suddenly, an imposed date reminds everyone that we do exist, that we are here and here we stay. The sadness of the lack of representation in the media, in politics, in education, feels strong, I say, because there is a lot of material ready to occupy those spaces. With more than 61 million people, according to the census, Hispanics / Latinos / Latinx make up almost 20% of the population of this country. More than half were born here, many for generations. However, our percentages of participation in spaces of power are extremely low: 1% among local and federal elected officials, around 5% in movies and television, and 9% among teachers and school administrators. Yes, we have to continue educating ourselves, learning to defend our rights, and continue creating our own spaces, because it seems that no one will willingly give them. Me, distrustful?

One thing that seems to be lacking in this Hispanic Heritage is that the name refers to our European ancestors. But what about our indigenous and African side? For this reason, this month, the photo on the cover of La Voz magazine is dedicated to highlighting one of those aspects, our African descent, with a sign in Spanish that reads: Black lives matter, and a close-up of the Puerto Rican journalist, feminist and social anthropologist, and visibly Afro-descendant Bárbara Abadía-Rexach, creator of the Negras podcast (which is excellent and I hope you take time to listen to it). In an interview with our collaborator Elizabeth Liotta, Abadía-Rexach reflects on racism on the Island of Enchantment, still a colony of the United States, in 2021.

I hope you enjoy this issue of La Voz, as much as we enjoy doing it.

Lets celebrate wittingly our month all year long!

Mariel Fiori
Managing Editor


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La Voz, Cultura y noticias hispanas del Valle de Hudson



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