What to Make of “Hispanic Heritage Month”

Heritage Month

It was 1968 the first time the federal government declared “Hispanic Heritage Week.” Now we celebrate every year from September 15 to October 15 thanks in part to seven Latin American countries commemorating their independence in its first few days. At LatinaMedia.Co, we can’t help but feel a little ambivalent about the holiday designed to celebrate us. To help you untangle it all, and learn what to expect from LatinaMedia.Co this season, co-founders Nicola Schulze and Cristina Escobar talk “Hispanic Heritage Month.”

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: It’s another “Hispanic Heritage Month,” and I have mixed feelings about it. I mean, I’m Chicana all year round and my community is Latinx all the time too. It feels silly to try to shoehorn our culture into 31 short days, two half months spread across the fall. But at the same time, we do want, deserve, and need the attention. What’s your take, Nicola?

NICOLA SCHULZE: It definitely is a funny tradition, and I’m still unsure how to feel about it. However, I do love when I see my fellow Latine friends get the flowers they deserve, but I wish it wasn’t limited to once a year. Also, personally, “Hispanic” has never been my favorite term. It feels dated, and just because we used it in 1968 doesn’t mean we have to use it today.

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: Exactly. And you know, even though we’re Latina and femme Latinx at LatinaMedia.Co 365, we did put together a package of particularly exciting, Latinx pieces for our Heritage Month. We’ve got looks back at Stand and Deliver and Cristela – both iconic pieces of Latinx media and ones worth celebrating. Do you have a film or show that really captures Latinidad for you?

Harvey Guillen in "What We Do in the Shadows"

NICOLA SCHULZE: I would never expect anything to capture all my feelings about Latinidad, and I don’t think we should. That being said, Guillermo from What We Do in The Shadows comes pretty close. I’m half Dutch Indonesian and the fact that Guillermo is a Dutch Latino who also has a mom named Syliva (like mine!) is wildly, hilariously, beautiful to me.

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: For me, as a mom, I think a lot about Coco and how it was the first time in Hollywood media I’d seen our culture’s bent toward familismo portrayed as a positive thing. But of course, I’m not stopping there with my family – I think the kids are ready for The Book of Life this fall, even if they’re still too small for Maya and the Three, which I can’t wait to show them.

NICOLA SCHULZE: Wow completely forgot about books. I recently read In the Dream House, which I’d been meaning to get to and I’m so glad I did. I have been a fan of Carmen Maria Machado for a while. And although much of it centers around a dark and difficult subject, her writing is incredible, smart, and moving. I know we’re also excited to have interviews with two of our other favorite writers Elizabeth Acevedo and Marisa Tirado this month.

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: Books were my first love and lately I’ve been pretty much only reading Latina authors. I’m excited for the coverage we have coming on Esmerelda Santiago, the famed Puerto Rican author. She’s got a new novel out, Las Madres, but really her whole catalog deserves a look. And in terms of my nightstand, I recently finished Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed, which I’d bought when it came out but then didn’t actually pick up until Jennifer Elsie Boone recommended it on our site.

NICOLA SCHULZE: This month, I’m really trying to work on my Spanish so I’m reading The Diary of Frida Kahlo in Spanish. Like many Latinas, I grew up with a healthy obsession with Frida and while I’ve read books about her I haven’t read her diary yet so I’m excited to learn about her through her words instead of her paintings.

Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed by Saraciea J. Fennell

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: I need to check that one out too! And of course, this being LatinaMedia.Co, we’re also bringing the hot take, the cultural analysis. Specifically, we’ll be looking at the new Latina stereotype with a piece by Michelle Young, who’s making a debut on the site, and returning writer Ces Heredia is breaking down the eldest daughter trope.

NICOLA SCHULZE: The lack of creativity and the continued use of Latine stereotypes never ceases to amaze me. And honestly, I’d think Hollywood should be getting tired of using them. I suppose these are the same people who’ve greenlit at least six Winston Churchill movies, though, so I shouldn’t be surprised. I honestly just want to see more movies that show Latine folks being their true authentic selves and not just another problematic underdeveloped sidekick.

CRISTINA ESCOBAR: You know, if I have one hope for Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, it’s not that we pick a name/term. I’ve pretty much given up on that. Instead, I’d like to see our community be represented as more than all those tired, old tropes – no more dumb sexpots, corrupt drug dealers, or maids existing only to serve. No more super strong, taking-care-of-everyone immigrants either. If we’re going to get more attention, I want that spotlight to show us a fully human – complex and diverse and more than just the struggle. Then, “Hispanic Heritage Month” would be something I’d find worth celebrating.

NICOLA SCHULZE: My intentions for “Hispanic Heritage Month” is that my Latine friends get more than just a couple gigs between September 15 and October 15 – I want organizations, companies, production studios (hint pay writers and actors please), and corporations to acknowledge us and invest in us all year round.

What We're Watching

Stay Connected & Sign Up for Our Newsletter!