This year, National Hispanic Heritage Month began Sept. 15 and ended Oct. 15. Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates Hispanic and Latin American culture and the positive impact they have had on the development of the United States.
But what is it like to be Hispanic in the United States during Heritage month?
As someone who is from Mexico, I thought I might take the liberty to make some comments concerning what it is to be Hispanic in general in the United States and how this month, in particular, affects my life here in Missouri.
I moved to the United States when I was around four years old because my father received a job offer in Florida. I’ve since lived in Florida, Texas and, now, Missouri. I would say that I am probably slightly estranged from my mother culture, but I think that I nonetheless live in a way that is different from the average person in the US.
Particularly around the months of October and November, I find myself often reminiscing about my memories of Mexico. This is because around this time is when the celebration of the Day of the Dead takes place (specifically, the Day of the Dead begins on Oct. 31-Nov. 2). Especially now that I am at William Jewell College and can see the preparations Mi Gente takes to celebrate this holiday, I find myself missing my house in San Luis Potosi and my family.
It has been about six years since I last visited! I think I am long overdue for a trip back to my home. And this yearning within me manifests itself in my drawings of altars in preparation for the Day of the Dead, in my searching for vegetarian recipes for pan de muertos, in my constant stream of WhatsApp messages with my family back home. ¡México, te extraño!
Here is an example of a sketch I was entertaining for an altar for my great-grandmother. She died a few years back, and I think about her often. She once crocheted me a cute little bear doll, which I have now sadly lost. She always had the wackiest stories to tell me about my grandfather’s childhood in Mexico.
I really like National Hispanic Heritage Month. I get extraordinarily excited to see the events Mi Gente has planned. I am looking forward to perusing the virtual Day of the Dead event that the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art has on their website. Even though I am so far away from my culture, these little events serve to bring a piece of home back to me.
I think that I especially appreciate having something like National Hispanic Heritage Month because things have been so crazy with COVID-19. The daily news about Mexico is disheartening, to say the least.
In 2020 alone, 2,240 women were killed in Mexico. The rate of femicides (that is, the murder of a woman or girl, often by a man on account of her gender) in Mexico has increased by 3.1 percent. As a result, women have taken to protesting, particularly in Mexico City.
I find myself constantly worried about my family in Mexico, particularly my grandmother, who works with the Supreme Court and deals directly with cases of femicide. I often have conversations with her concerning the difficulties surrounding her job because of COVID-19.
I was planning on visiting my family in Mexico over the summer this year, but the uncertainty surrounding last year’s spring break and the switch to online classes really threw a wrench in my plans.
Thus, I am glad that there is something like National Hispanic Heritage Month to remind me of the things I love most about my culture.