Today is the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month! It’s a month long celebration of Hispanic and Latino culture which runs from September 15 to October 15 in the U.S. We’re excited to learn more about it, and we hope you join us!
What is Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic Heritage Month started in 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Originally only a week long, it was to honor the contributions and sacrifices of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the U.S. President Ronald Regan expanded it to a month-long celebration in 1988. It begins on September 15th because five Latin American countries celebrate their independence today: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile, and Belize also celebrate their independence during the month.
Why is Hispanic Heritage Month Important?
Hispanic Heritage Month gives people an opportunity to connect to their heritage that they may not have otherwise. Over 17% of the U.S. population is Hispanic or Latino, making Hispanic Americans the largest minority in the U.S., whether ethnically or racially. 9.4% of Georgians are Hispanic or Latino as of July 2016. The Latin American diaspora has separated many people from their homelands and identities. Hispanic Heritage Month allows them to reconnect with their communities and strengthen their cultural identity.
Ways to Participate
We believe that everyone has a right to their heritage and cultural identity. “Local is Global” after all. Each Hispanic Heritage Month, the University of North Georgia hosts a series of events for students and members of the local community. Dance performances, guest speakers, and a Day of the Dead presentation will all be occuring. These events are sponsored by the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) on the Dahlonega campus, the Latino Student Association (LSA) on the Gainesville campus, and the Spanish Club on the Oconee campus, as well as Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA), directed by Dr. Robert Robinson.
UNG Reads will also be reading Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya for Hispanic Heritage Month. Project director Dr. Tanya Bennett says that this novel was chosen because of “its relatability to north Georgians with a Hispanic heritage.” UNG Reads will host campus events through October, including visiting author Daina Chaviano on October 25. More information can be found here.
Each Wednesday during Hispanic Heritage Month, the Press will have a blog post featuring different Hispanic authors and books, as well as any updated information about the UNG events. Below are our first three recommendations. If you want to discuss these books, or have any other recommendations or requests, leave a comment, tweet us @UnivPressNG, or follow us on Facebook!
1. The Barbarian Nurseries — Héctor Tobar
The Barbarian Nurseries follows the Torres-Thompson family—half Mexican only in name—and their live-in Mexican employee, Araceli Ramírez. When the Torres-Thompson parents disappear, leaving behind two boys who Araceli has never spoken to, she must find a way to bring them to their grandfather. Tobar’s tongue-in-cheek tone creates a compelling narrative. The duality of American and Mexican identity follows each character in this book about humanity and what it means to belong.
2. The House on Mango Street — Sandra Cisneros
A classic. Taught byevery English teach, read by children and adults alike. The House on Mango Street is a bittersweet memory shared to the world. Told in a series of vignettes, Cisneros wrote a novel that “can be opened at any page and… still make sense.” Mango Street creates the universal ache of growing up, the pain of conflicting identities and forlorn hope that each person experiences. But in its sorrows, it reminds us that we are not alone in the world. “You can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are.” But you can still be free.
3. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao — Junot Díaz
The de León family is cursed. The fukú has followed them for generations, in the Dominican Republic, in America, lurking in every corner. The story rotates between characters, following Oscar, his sister Lola, and their mother Beli. This novel is heart-wrenching. A dreaded tale where something always gets worse. Your heart breaks for the de León’s, but the multigenerational tale creates the feelings of being part of something greater than everyday life. The novel makes you unsure of your footing from the start, but the chaos is authentic, and as you’ll learn, ever family has their own fukú.
National Hispanic Heritage Month 2017 (Gov)
National Hispanic Heritage Month 2017
U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Georgia
Latino Student Association connects UNG students to Hispanic culture
UNG reads “Bless Me Ultima”