Honoring National Hispanic Heritage Month
In light of National Hispanic Heritage Month, deepen your knowledge of the Hispano, Latino, and Latinx population by learning these statistics related to their culture, veterinary medicine, and beyond.
Fall season is here again. For many of us, that means pumpkin everything (lattes, visiting pumpkin patches, candles, soup), going on hayrides, apple picking, hiking, raking leaves and more leaves, drinking apple cider, wearing fall sweaters, and bulking up on candy corn (for anyone that knows me well, candy corn is my guilty pleasure). Fall is also the time to honor National Hispanic Heritage Month and the many contributions that we Hispanos (Hispanics), Latinos (Latinos), and Latinx people have made in the United States.
Defining National Hispanic Heritage Month
- National Hispanic Heritage Month (Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana) is held annually in the United States from September 15 to October 15.
- It began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. In 1988, it was expanded to a month and signed into law.
- September 15 was chosen as the first day because it is the independence day of 5 countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Other countries celebrating their independence in September include Mexico on September 16 and Chile on September 18.
- Día de la Raza (Columbus Day) on October 12 falls within the 30-day period.
Defining Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx
- Hispanic and Latino refer to individuals living in the United States who are of Spanish or Latin American origin.
- These terms are often used interchangeably, including by the United States Census Bureau.
- Hispanic includes individuals with ancestry from Spain and Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America.
- Latino includes people from Latin American countries, formerly colonized by Spain or Portugal.
- There is no consensus on which term to use. People in the eastern United States prefer Hispanic, whereas in the western part of the country the preference is Latino.
- According to a 2011 Pew Research Center study, 51% of individuals prefer to identify with their country of origin or nationality (ie, Colombian, Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican, etc).
- Latinx was introduced in the early 2000s as a gender neutral and gender inclusive term. Spanish is a traditionally gendered language, but Latinx is inclusive of transgender, nonbinary, and gender-fluid communities and has been embraced by the LGBTQ+ community.
- According to the US Census Bureau, Hispanics and Latinos (including Latinx, although the term is not yet included in the Census Bureau) make up more than 60 million people or roughly 18.5% of the US population.
- The Census Bureau includes the following nationalities for this group: Argentinean, Bolivian, Chilean, Colombian, Costa Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Ecuadorian, Guatemalan, Honduran, Mexican, Nicaraguan, Panamanian, Paraguayan, Peruvian, Puerto Rican, Salvadoran, Spanish, Uruguayan, Venezuelan, and Other Hispanic/Latino.
- The top 5 nationalities that make up the Hispanic and Latino population include Mexican, at 61%; Puerto Rican, at 10%; Cuban, at 4%; Salvadoran at 4%; and Dominican at 3%.
- As of 2019, 31.4% of Hispanics and Latinos in the United States were high school graduates; 21.6% had some college or held an associate’s degree; 13.1% held a bachelor’s degree; and 5.7% held an advanced degree.
- By 2018, 26% of Hispanic and Latino new entry immigrants, ages 25 and older, held a bachelor’s degree or higher, up from just 10% in 1990.
- Regarding household income, 15% of Hispanics were at the $35,000 to $49,999 level; 18.8% were at $50,000 to $74,999; 12.7% were at $75,000 to $99,999; and 20.3% were at $100,000 or more.
- According to the University of Georgia Multicultural Economy report, Hispanic buying power grew from $213 billion in 1990 to $1.9 trillion (11.1% of total US buying power) in 2020.
- From 2007 to 2016, Hispanic and Latino homes with pets grew from 11.4 million to 20.4 million.
- Per the AVMA Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, Hispanic and Latino pet ownership stands at 61.4%.
- Hispanics, Latinos, and Latinx make up 7% of US veterinarians and 10.4% of the veterinary services industry.
Notable Hispanos, Latino, and Latinx
- Rita Moreno – third person to achieve Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award status
- Cesar Chavez – founded the National Farm Workers Association
- Roberto Clemente – Major League Baseball player
- Julia Alvarez – prolific Dominican American writer. I attribute Julia Alvarez, in part, for sparking my interest in Hispanic literature after reading How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents in college.
- Jennifer Lopez – entertainer and entrepreneur
- Sylvia Rivera – iconic figure in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement
- Ellen Ochoa – first Hispanic American woman to go to space in 1993
- Sonia Sotomayor – first Hispanic American Supreme Court Justice
- Lin-Manuel Miranda – arts and pop culture icon
- Dolores Huerta – cofounded the Agricultural Workers Association in 1960
- Gloria Estefan – entertainer and entrepreneur
Ideas for celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month
If you are still looking for ways to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, or perhaps want to learn more about your Hispanos, Latinos, and Latinx colleagues, consider browsing some online exhibits through the National Archives, National Art Gallery, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Park Service, Smithsonian, and The Hispanic Society Museum and Library.
Additionally, be sure to catch up on Amazon’s Best Sellers in Hispanic American Literature & Fiction during the month. Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina García, who has 7 novels to her name, remains my favorite book.
Next, be sure to host a small (COVID-19 safe) movie-watching party. Options include 22 Best Movies Celebrating Latinx and Hispanic Culture to Watch in 2021. Roma, the Netflix groundbreaking and Oscar-winning film, is a must-watch. You can take this opportunity to bake your favorite (or should I say my favorite?) tres leches dessert. For more cooking ideas, go to Hispanic Food Network.
Lastly, put on your dancing shoes and head over to the nearest salsa, merengue, tango, or samba class while listening to one of Spotify’s many Latinx Heritage Month channels. If you need a kickoff point, Celia Cruz’s Latinos en Estados Unidos is a great song that unites us all.
Paul Miranda, CVPM, is an operations support manager with NVA Compassion-First, supporting and leading operations in multiple hospitals throughout the western region of the United States. In addition, he works with numerous veterinary affinity groups in the equity, inclusion, and diversity space identifying, addressing, and advocating for sustainable and scalable change in the veterinary industry.