In 1988, Congress passed a resolution that authorizes the President to proclaim the 31 days from September 15 to October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month. The celebration recognizes the contributions and achievements of Hispanic Americans and the Latinx culture to the history and society of the United States. Beyond cultural contributions, Hispanics and Latinx strengthen the U.S. economy and boost productivity growth by:
- Creating New Business. In recent years, the number of self-employed and venture capitalists among Latinx/Hispanics has been growing rapidly. The creation of new jobs has a powerful effect on the economy by producing tax revenue, consumer spending, and local employment.
- Working in Economy Growth Sectors. Latinx/Hispanics hold jobs in some of the most important sectors that contribute to the growth of the U.S. economy. For example, agriculture, mining, construction, retail, manufacturing, transportation, and hospitality.
- Spending Power. The growing Hispanic/Latinx population holds increasing power as wage earners, taxpayers, and consumers.
- Contributing to Tax Revenue, Medicare, and Social Security. Nationwide, Hispanics and Latinx contribute billions of dollars a year to Federal and State taxes by spending, earning wages, and creating new business.
- Voting Power. The majority of Hispanics/Latinx in America are U.S. citizens. Their participation in the voting booth will significantly impact the political landscape in some states.
What is the difference between Hispanic and Latino?
As a Latina, Spanish native speaker from Colombia, South America, I feel that it is important to understand the difference between these two terms. At the same time, it is key to explore the fact that Hispanic/Latinx culture is very diverse since it is a group of people from many different countries.
Hispanic is a person who descended from Spanish-speaking populations and speaks Spanish. Latino refers to people who are from Latin America. Brazilians are Latino because the country is in Latin America. But Brazilians aren't considered Hispanic because the country's primary language is Portuguese.
As we can see, the Hispanic and Latinx culture is very rich and diverse since it constitutes a group of people from 33 countries in Central, South America, the Caribbean, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, and Spain. Each of them with a different culture, ethnicity, race, music, food, and art.
What issues are American Hispanics and Latinx facing in the U.S.?
- Immigration Reform. The Hispanic/Latinx communities are facing discrimination, inequalities, family separation, human rights violations, and blocked access to opportunities regardless of their documentation status.
- Education and Health disparities. The underserved communities of color and other ethnicities struggle to navigate a segregated system. They encounter many obstacles when trying to find resources and basic services.
- Politics. Voter suppression, representation, and lack of opportunities to hold leadership roles at a government level are some of the barriers this community faces.
- Equity and Inclusion. Racism, discrimination, regional segregation, and violence towards Hispanics/Latinx is on the rise. These communities struggle to find resources and a sense of belonging in a country that in most cases, is the only home they know.
In conclusion, Hispanics/Latinx in America have a complicated history, based on their diverse origins and immigration status. The challenges that this community is facing, that impact other communities of color and ethnicities are well known and researched. We must use this knowledge to improve and change policies for a better tomorrow for all.