Hispanic Heritage Month Gets Justifiable Criticism, but it’s Still Worth Celebrating. Here's Why

Historians in the News
tags: Latino/a history, hispanic history

It happens like clockwork: At least one corporation ends up apologizing during Hispanic Heritage Month because their campaign intended to celebrate Latinos ends up offending them. This year’s loser is Twitch.

The Amazon-owned live video streaming platform issued an apology within hours of launching its campaign last month after users called them out on Twitter for the design of their Hispanic Heritage Month-themed emotes, which employed stereotypical and racist depictions of what Latinos are like.

“These were not an appropriate representation of Hispanic and LatinX culture, and we’ve removed them.” Twitch wrote on Twitter.

These corporate blunders have left some Latinos skeptical of Hispanic Heritage Month. Others take issue with the sanitization and whitewashing of how it’s celebrated. Despite all the critiques, the 30-day celebration — it ends Oct. 15 — still serves as a perfect opportunity for Latinos to celebrate and learn more about their history.

Stephen Pitti, a history professor and director of the Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity and Transnational Migration at Yale University, said some of this distrust can be seen in other Latino-specific holidays or events.

“I hear plenty of similar cynicism about Cinco de Mayo celebrations as having been taken over by corporate sponsors, or Puerto Rican Day parade celebrations as being no longer connected to community priorities, community leadership,” Pitti said.

But before Disney and Barbie co-opted it to remind you which parts of their intellectual property have Spanish surnames, Hispanic Heritage Month was originally intended to be a recognition and celebration of the many contributions Latinos have made to the United States.

In June 1968, Rep. George E. Brown Jr., whose district included large portions of East Los Angeles, introduced House Joint Resolution 1299, which called for the week that included Sept. 15 and 16 (two dates that fall on the independence day of many Latin American nations, including Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Mexico) to be proclaimed by the president as “Hispanic Heritage Week.”

Read entire article at Los Angeles Times

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