Hispanic Heritage Month is a U.S. national celebration of Latin contributions to the United States.
The national celebration is every September 15 to October 15
We cherish our Hispanic and Luso cultural heritage, but nobody with a conscience should celebrate colonial times. It was World War Zero, the Europeans against the world. There is a direct line from European slavers to the U.S. Civil War, to Jim Crow, to the Capitol Insurrection of January 6, 2021.
Hispanic Heritage Month News
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month Sep 15 – Oct 15.
Celebrate Mexican Independence Day on Thu, Sep 16. 🇲🇽
The New York Yankees celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a giveaway of Yankee caps with Hispanic flags for Yankee games on Fri-Wed, Sep 17-22, 2021. From $40. mlb.com
Celebrate Chilean Independence Day on Sat, Sep 18. 🇨🇱
Hispanisim0, a virtual celebration of Latin culture, is on YouTube and cable channel Canal America, on Sun Oct 3 at 1pm.
NYC’s Panamanian Parade and Street Fair is in Crown Heights, Brooklyn on Sat, Oct 9, 2021 at 12pm. FREE 🇵🇦
Indigenous People Day is Mon, Oct 11.
Columbus Day is Mon, Oct 11. (We know what he did.) 🇮🇹🇺🇸
NYC’s Columbus Day Parade is on Fifth Avenue, Mon, Oct 11. 🇮🇹
NYC’s Hispanic Day Parade (Sunday before or after Columbus Day) is cancelled. 🇦🇷🇧🇴🇨🇱🇨🇴🇨🇷🇨🇺🇩🇴🇪🇨🇸🇻🇬🇹🇭🇳🇲🇽🇳🇮🇵🇦🇵🇾🇵🇪🇵🇷🇪🇸🇺🇾🇻🇪
Sonia Olla & Ismael Fernández and other Spanish immigrants celebrate Indigenous People Day at Columbus Circle in Midtown on Mon, Oct 11 at 4:30pm. FREE. instagram.com 🇪🇸
Celebrate Spain’s national day (La fiesta nacional de España) on Tue, Sep 12. 🇪🇸
The Flamenco Certamen USA 2021 Finals are at the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center on Fri, Oct 15 at 7pm. $35. flamenco-vivo.org 🇪🇸
Es un Gran Día en El Barrio
Hispanic Heritage Month is an interesting time. The kids are calling it Latinx Heritage Month now. That’s important because it shifts focus from the colonizers (pirates and slavers) to us in an inclusive way. This is our story after all.
Our story has been badly told because colonizers wrote the book. As Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute has said, “We have to tell our own stories because nobody else will.”
The Spaniard brought the African.Eddie Palmieri at the 92nd Street Y
The African put everyone to dance.
In the States they took away the drum,
And we got the Blues.
He didn’t mention Indigenous which is a very U.S. point of view. After the colonial genocide (beginning in 1565 with the founding of St. Augustine, the oldest city in the U.S.) and the Trail of Tears (1831), there are very few Indigenous in the U.S. until you cross the Mississippi or our northern and southern borders. But we’re not dead, we married into the American family. We are still here. We’ve always been here. We are the First Nations.
And from the Blues, the African Diaspora generated this incredible flowering of American popular culture. We get Gospel, Ragtime (American Classical Music), Jazz, Swing, Country, Rock, R&B, Hip-Hop and Trap. Yes even country music has African Diaspora roots. The banjo is West African.
Dizzy Gillespie folded Latin rhythm back into jazz in 1940s New York City. From Cubop (Cuban bebop) we got Latin Jazz, Salsa, Freestyle Rap, Reggaeton, Latin Trap, and whatever the kids are creating next.
People love Latin music because it’s more than music. It’s faith, family, community and love. Everybody wants that. So that’s our story. It’s complicated, often beautiful, sometimes ugly, but this is who we are.
It’s All In Her Smile
This young New Yorker was at NYC’s Mexican Independence Day Parade a few years ago. Look how proud she is in her Jalisco Dress. She probably carries our entire Hispanic Heritage in her smile.
Mexico is a mostly Indigenous country. She probably has some Spanish blood from colonial times. Spain is itself a mix of European, African, Arab, Jewish and Roma (Northern India) people and cultures.
Mexico’s African community is struggling for recognition, but most of us have an African grandmother in the closet. For example, Los Angeles was founded by Mexicans (then New Spain). You would think the founders were Spaniards or perhaps Indigenous, but most of the founders of Los Angeles were African descent. Bet you didn’t know. [Editor: I grew up in Los Angeles and didn’t know.]
We are Asian too. Indigenous Americans originally came from Asia. There have been major modern migrations from Japan and China. During colonial times, the Pacific Spanish galleon route sailed between Acapulco, México and Manila, Philippines. The legend of the China Poblana (an embroidered folk dress from Pueblo, México) is that it was inspired by the beautiful saris of a South Asian woman who came with the galleons.
We are connected with Pacific Islanders too. There are South American plants in Polynesia and South American genes (from what is now Colombia) in some Pacific Islanders. We don’t know whether South Americans made their own way or Pacific Islanders came and took some of us back, but how cool is that?
The reality is that we Latins are the children of the world, the whole world. After the Indigenous First Nations, we are all hijos del mar (children of the sea).
What is Hispanic Anyway?
Hispanic means related to Spain or the culture of Spain. It’s an American term. The former Spanish colonies are Hispanic. 🇦🇷🇧🇴🇨🇱🇨🇴🇨🇷🇨🇺🇩🇴🇪🇨🇸🇻🇬🇹🇭🇳🇲🇽🇳🇮🇵🇦🇵🇾🇵🇪🇵🇷🇪🇸🇺🇾🇻🇪
But what is Spain? If you don’t know anything about Spain, it’s just one thing. But the reality is that Spain is a nation cobbled together from semi-autonomous regions that are very different from each other. The Colonial Spanish socio-economic-political system was so messed up that it even messes up Spain today. It was designed for the leaders to steal everything and its legacy also devils us in the Americas.
Spain is many different things. Europe is actually a peninsula and Spain is its tip. Migration pressure is generally east to west, so whoever was migrating eventually ended up in Spain. Some crossed into Africa and some came from Africa.
The Iberian Peninsula was Romanized. That’s one great civilization. The Italian Renaissance had an impact across Europe. So that’s another great civilization that was in Spain. But there is one more that nobody talks about.
Islamic Spain was one of the peaks of Spanish culture. It was an important civilization that was equal in depth and influence to the Roman and Renaissance cultures. Islamic Spain was one of the most advanced societies of its day. People don’t talk about it because Christians and Muslims compete with each other, but it was important.
Spain also has Roma culture which generated flamenco. And Africa is only nine miles across the Strait of Gibraltar. People and culture traveled in both directions.
So Spain is many things. It’s European, African, Arab and Roma. In fact the classic Spanish beauty has all of this mixed in. We shouldn’t pick on Muslims. Islam is part of who we are as Hispanics. For example, the “Diana” the “A-la-la-le-le-lo…” that often starts a Caribbean salsa comes from the Islamic call to prayer. The Spanish word for hopefully “ojala” is probably derived from the Arabic expression “In sha’Allah.”
Latin culture in the Americas is incredibly diverse. It already was very diverse in Spain.
The Hispanic United States
All this talk about immigration is ironic because we were here first. After the Indigenous First Nations, two thirds of what is now the United States was Spanish or French.
Many things we consider “American” originated in the Latin world. Take the iconic American cowboys for example. Spanish introduced cattle to the Americas. Mexican herding traditions became American herding traditions. Most “cowboys” were Black or Indigenous.
St Augustine, Florida is the oldest city in the United States. It was founded by Spanish colonizers in 1565.
In 2021, these states have at least 10% Hispanic populations.
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
Reclaiming Hispanic Heritage
2021 was the first Hispanic Heritage Month since Black Lives Matter began changing the way people think, so celebrating Hispanic heritage is complicated. So many things we were raised to believe in turn out to be colonial nonsense.
Love for Hispanic culture, language and often faith are complicated by the colonial legacy.
Colonization is brutal and we are still suffering its effects. Colonial social-political-economic systems are designed for a small group of people at the top to steal everything. That pretty much describes politics in the Americas today.
Furthermore, the colonial legacy is one of human enslavement. On the one hand, the culture is loved, while on the other hand, people remember what was done. Colonial violence, thievery, and the relentless assault on one’s sense of self are not easily forgotten by those whose ancestors lived through it.
In Latin America the colonial legacy of White supremacy continues to play out in a struggle between governing urban White elites and rural Indigenous, Black and Mixed peoples. Governing elites often trace their privilege back to the Colonial Era. A similar struggle also plays out in the asymmetric relationship between the United States and the rest of the Americas.
So it’s complicated and will take time to settle out because everything has to be reexamined.
Columbus was Evil, but Columbus Day was Started to Stop Violence Against Italian-Americans
Columbus Day is part of Hispanic Heritage Month. Columbus was an evil man. Even the Spanish government jailed and prosecuted him for how badly he treated Indigenous Americans.
The Columbus Day commemoration in the United States was begun to stop violence against Italian Americans. That is why Italian Americans treasure the day and treasure Columbus.
Our African communities are involved too. Most Italian immigrants of the past came from Southern Italy. Sicily is less than 100 miles from Africa. Southern Italians share a North African heritage and were comfortable with it.
The big wave of Southern Italian immigration came after the U.S. Civil War when human enslavement was illegal. Being comfortable with Africans, Italian immigrants moved into African American communities, did work that was previously done by enslaved humans, and intermarried.
Confederate White supremacists abused African Americans terribly, even after losing the war and began to do the same to Italian Americans.
There is no point celebrating evil. Perhaps we can celebrate a more honorable Italian or Italian American on this day. There are many. A great first step would be for our communities to commemorate the day together. We invite leaders of New York City and our Italian, Indigenous, Hispanic and African communities to come together around this. We are All In NYC.