Recognizing diversity during Hispanic Heritage Month


“You don’t have to be a certain appearance or a certain color,” said Lilly Cortés-Wyatt. “I definitely identify as Mexican-American.”

SACRAMENTO, Calif .– The Hispanic and Latino population is diverse, ranging from Métis people, language and heritage. This includes anyone of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South American or Central culture or origin, or of another Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.

“You don’t have to look a certain way, be a certain way, be a certain height or a certain color,” said Lilly Cortés-Wyatt, public relations and communications professional at Sacramento. “I definitely identify as Mexican-American. My mom is Spanish. My dad is Mexican.”

According to the US Census Bureau, more than 60 million Hispanics and Latinos live in the United States, which represents about 18% of the population. In 2019, among Hispanic subgroups, people of Mexican descent were ranked the most important at 61%, followed by Puerto Ricans and Central Americans at 9% each.

“When people try to tell me, I have to watch Aztec dancers every day, I just tell myself that I never experienced this growing up,” Cortés-Wyatt said. “My culture in Mexico is mostly family, food and not even music. It was really different. I got a lot of perspective from my fellow Mexicans. They saw me differently. So I never felt like I was not really accepted. “

California has the largest Hispanic and Latino population with over 15 million people. This includes over 560,000 living in the Greater Sacramento area. But, since most people who identify as Hispanic or Latino are of Mexican descent, Afro-Latinos and Indigenous peoples are often overlooked or overlooked in the United States.

“I am an Afro-Bolivian. I identify very strongly with my black community in Bolivia,” said Alejandro Gutierrez-Duncan, AFROSAYA Podcast podcaster. “If you are black, you are always at the bottom of society. Other black people live in other communities and they still face the same issues as people in the United States, our brothers and sisters. diversity is very important, not only what we have inside our country, but the people who come to our country. “

Spanish is the most dominant language in the United States after English, with over 40 million people using Spanish at home. This is according to the latest US Census data. But, not all Hispanics or Latinos speak the Romance language.

“Spanish is my first language,” said Gutierrez-Duncan. “But, what if you are a black Latino or a black Caribbean from Haiti, for example, you will speak French or Creole.”

According to the US Department of Health and the Office of Minority Health Human Services, language proficiency varies among Hispanic subgroups living in the United States. Data from the 2019 census shows that 71% of Hispanics speak a language other than English at home, while 28% are not fluent. English at all.

“I don’t like people making assumptions or speaking Spanish to me just because I seem to speak Spanish,” Cortés-Wyatt said. “Yes, I speak Spanish, English and Italian. There are 33 Latin American countries. Of these 33 Latin American countries, only 60% speak Spanish.”

The terms Hispanic and Latin are often used interchangeably. But, Hispanic refers to Spanish speakers or people who have a background in a Spanish speaking country. Latino refers to a person with a background in a Latin American country. This includes the entire continent of South America in addition to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Islands.

“For me, growing up in a house where we eat rice, plantains and chicken was my culture,” said Gutierrez-Duncan. “I am that black Bolivian who moved to the United States and is now trying to adapt his life to the mainstream of life in the United States.”

The terms Hispanic and Latin are rooted more in shared cultures than in racial categories. Remember that these identities can be claimed by anyone, regardless of race and heritage. One way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month is to recognize the diversity of cultures and often overlooked heritage.

SEE MORE : Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Legacy and Hope | Race and culture

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