While the historic appointment of Sonia Sotomayor, the first justice of Latino descent in the Supreme Court was a special moment in 2009, the highlight of this year was a stronger Latino presence in U.S. politics.
Latinos saw a reflection of themselves””and perhaps future presidential candidates”” in key moments of nationally televised political conventions, including Boyle Heights native Antonio Villaraigosa.
While the advancement of Latinos in the United States is worth celebrating during Latino Heritage Month, the rich international heritage of la raza is something that should not be ignored.
In an era where the world is going through globalization and people from around the world can interact easily via social media, it is an excellent idea to take time to discover and appreciate the intricacies of the global Hispanic community and the worldwide reach it has had for centuries.
“There are 20 Hispanic countries of origin that make up the United States Hispanic population,” said University of California, Irvine sociology professor Rubén Rumbaut at the International Conference on Aging in the Americas this month. Dr. Rumbaut’s speech and one by UCLA Public Health PhD student Jacqueline Torres highlighted both the incredible diversity and size of the American Latino community. They pointed out that the United States is expected to become a majority-minority country in 2050, with nearly one third of the country being Latino.
In addition to remembering the long history of Latinos in the Americas, Latino Heritage Month also offers an opportunity to reflect on the transatlantic heritage that is a part of many Latin countries. This is possible by exploring the art of legendary Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias, who traveled and painted in various African countries such as Morocco. Los Angeles-based Afro-Brazilian.com also highlights the often forgotten connections between Africa and Latin America by organizing cultural programs in the United States and trips to Brazil.
During this month of appreciation for the past and the future of Latino culture, there will be plenty of local and national opportunities for discussion and engagement, including via education and the arts.
Here are a few to consider:
The nonprofit organization National Society of Hispanic MBAs, which provides resources to help develop future Latino business leaders, will celebrate Latino heritage during its mixer on Sept. 26 in downtown Los Angeles.
Other nonprofits like Nosotros, the oldest National Latino Arts Advocacy organization in the United States, help increase the representation of Latinos in the entertainment industry and host monthly events in downtown Los Angeles.
Boyle Heights native Gabriel Tenorio, who has played the guitar internationally during several music tours and currently manages Southern California programs for the nonprofit MusicianCorps, helps aspiring musicians by providing instrument strings, which are handmade on Cesar Chavez Avenue at Guadalupe Custom Strings.
And lastly, the nonprofit Latinos in Social Media hosts national discussions on Twitter every Thursday at 6 pm PST revolving around issues that impact the future of the national and global Latino community.
Elias Kamal Jabbe is the founding editor of Multicultural Matters.