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Tony Lucero: Why “Hispanic Heritage Month” needs to be rethought

September 28, 2021

Recently José Antonio Lucero, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Comparative History of Ideas Associate Professor and Department of American Indian Studies Adjunct Associate Professor, shared his thoughts with us on the meaning of Hispanic Heritage Month:

“Hispanic Heritage Month” does seem to need some re-thinking. While I understand and endorse the celebration of peoples from across the Americas, like our own families in Mexico and Peru, I share the worry that many have expressed about the label “Hispanic.”  To put it simply, the focus on Spain and European heritage erases Indigenous and Afro-Latinx Peoples. Just as troubling, the symbols of “Hispanidad” have historical connection with anti-Blackness and dictatorship, most clearly under the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic and also in the discourses of ultra-nationalists in the Southern Cone. More recently, some symbols of Hispanidad (like the red and white flag of Borgoña) have been used in Bolivia, Peru, Chile, and across the Americas as part of conservative rejections of Indigenous peoples, progressive politics, and inclusive pluri-national imaginings. “Latinx” has its limitations, but there is something about its intentional inclusivity, its connection to Afro-Latinx communitiesLatinx Indigeneities, and other intersectional possibilities that make it feel like a much better term than “Hispanic.”