Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the experiences of our diverse community


J. Dollins

Sept. 15-Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrating the variety of Spanish speaking cultures that make up the United States.

Erin Dallatorre, Pepper Bough Staff Writer

Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15, spotlighting Latino/a’s, Hispanic’s, and Chicano/a’s heritage and culture. 

Hispanic heritage has been observed since 1968, first as a dedicated week, until President Ronald Reagan expanded it to an entire month in 1988. 

Heritage Month starts on the 15th instead of the first because it aligns with the anniversaries of independence for several Latin American countries like Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

But if you knew absolutely nothing about Hispanic Heritage Month, you might be confused about the differences between Latinos and Chicanos. That is because of the absent meaning of the word “Hispanic.”

“Hispanic” simply means Spanish Speaking, yet there are about 20 countries with Spanish as their official language, not including countries with Spanish speaking citizens. 

As of 2019, the United States has an 18.5% Hispanic/Latino population, and California has the biggest population of all 50 states.

While Hispanics are the largest non-white ethnic group in the U.S. and California, Colton’s demographics show an even larger percentage, with 74% of the city proudly Hispanic.

When the numbers are considered, it is challenging to see what they mean. Hundreds of millions of people around the world speak Spanish. Whether or not they are all boiled down to one category, it is easy to see they are all not the same. “Hispanics” are 20 different countries with a variety of cultures. 

So it is up to those unfamiliar with these “Hispanic” cultures to do their own research and learn about the various Hispanic flavors in their communities.

What Hispanic Heritage Month means to the people it is directed towards is the most important thing about this special month.

“It is important to celebrate this month,” said Colton High Assistant Principal Jorge Alvarez. “[B]ecause we need to pay homage to our ancestors, the indigenous peoples whose blood runs through us, the Californios, braceros, refugees, those who risked their lives and continue to risk their lives at the border in hopes of a better future for their families, and all those who paved the way before us.”

This month is about sharing stories, experiences, and accomplishments with others. It is about being heard and acknowledged. Being Hispanic in this predominantly white society is hard, and it is even harder to get recognized for your struggles.

Sharing cultural experiences can help people understand each other and grow a sense of comradery and respect towards each other’s identities. 

Ernest Cisneros, Colton City Councilman for District 2 is the second generation of Latinx in his family to serve on the city council. “My mother was the second woman elected to the Colton City Council in 1976 and the first Latina ever elected in the City of Colton. That distinction reminds me how far Latinx people have come in the City of Colton, but there is always more to learn from each other.”

Hispanics, Latinos/a’s, and Chicano/a’s are a powerful group in this country, this state, this community. Hispanic Heritage Month is not something to skim over. It should be celebrated by everyone, “Hispanic” or not. 

Be proud of other’s heritage. Be proud of your heritage.