Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates Latino and Hispanic individuals, culture

Each year, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua celebrate the anniversary of their independence on Sept. 15. This date marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month because of its significance to the Hispanic community, the celebration continues until Oct. 15.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of Latino and Hispanic individuals and culture. Latinos and Hispanics are often an underrepresented minority in America, and the goal of Hispanic Heritage Month is to educate the American public on the significance of these peoples’ contributions on a national and global scale.

A person is considered Hispanic or Latino if they hail from Puerto Rico, Mexico, South America, Central America or another Spanish-speaking culture. Hispanic and Latino art and culture should be showcased and appreciated during Hispanic Heritage Month while we remember “generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society,” according to the Hispanic Heritage Month website.

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum take part in making Hispanic Heritage Month visible and accessible to the public. If people are made aware of and educated on the importance of Hispanic culture, there may be more appreciation for the Hispanic population in America.

Important figures of Hispanic dissent are celebrated during Hispanic Heritage Month for their influence in America. Among these figures are scientist Baruj Benacerraf who discovered major histocompatibility complex genes, actress Rita Moreno, baseball player Roberto Clemente and NASA astronaut Ellen Ochoa. 

According to the Hispanic Heritage Month website, 18 percent of the American population is Hispanic. In 2016, only 3 percent of speaking characters in the top 100 American films were Latino. Only about 9 percent of the American Congress is Latino. 

We must all recognize the general, devastating lack of positive Hispanic representation in American society. Hispanic Heritage Month’s goal is to praise people of Latino culture and origin so that their levels of representation increase. The Hispanic community deserves to have a voice.

The Geneseo Student Latino Association, in collaboration with Geneseo Late Knight, will be hosting a Hispanic Heritage Night on Sept. 27 at 9 p.m. in the MacVittie Union Ballroom. Like the events hosted across the nation, this night will include crafts, games and food dedicated to celebrating Hispanic culture.

Geneseo, like the rest of America, has the opportunity to become better educated on Hispanic culture, history and impact on the world. Seize the chance to become a better citizen by supporting and celebrating one of the most underrepresented communities in America.