As we celebrate Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, I thought it useful to provide a broader frame inspired by the work of educational activist Françoise Thenoux.
Each year, the National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15th to October 15th in the United States. September 15th is a significant day because it is the anniversary of the independence from Spain in the Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. This, alongside the many other Latin American countries that celebrate their independence in September and October, makes this time period so special.
Yet here at SGS, we don’t confine our celebration of culture and heritage to just four weeks. We celebrate it all year round, both in the classroom - with Profe’s 7th and 8th grade Spanish class - and in every meeting with our Latinx Affinity group. This is important to our community because the United States has the second largest population of Spanish speakers in the world. Some people think that the terms Hispanic and Latinx describe racial categories; however, the communities that have been labeled Hispanic and Latinxs are actually very racially diverse.
Next week marks the start of our affinity and alliance meetings at SGS. We have 11 affinity and 3 alliance groups this year. Each group has 1-2 SGS adult leads who support student leadership and participation, and most importantly, who also affinitize with that identity. The affinity and alliance groups meet during lunch and we don’t schedule more than one meeting on the same day because we never want to force a student to have to choose between different identities. This is also why we don’t schedule other meetings or SIGs (student interest groups) on the same days, because once again, we want to encourage student identity development. We may not meet every week, but when we do, it’s really meaningful.
The Latinx Affinity group will have their first meeting to kick-off the school year on Friday, October 6th. Ani and I, Ms. Miryam, cannot wait to connect, celebrate and build relationships with our Latinx students!
Hispanic refers to people who speak Spanish or who have ancestors from Spanish-speaking countries. The term Hispanic refers to the language spoken by a person or spoken by their ancestors.
The term Latino (more commonly used nowadays is Latinx) refers to geography: specifically, people from Latin America including the Caribbean.
The words Latinx or Hispanic are related to ethnicity. Latinx people can be White, Black, Indigenous, Asian, etc.
The terms Latinx (pronounced Latine) or Latine have been adopted by communities who are looking for a more comprehensive gender inclusive alternative to the binary identity markers "Latino " or "Latina."
And most importantly, never use the word Spanish to talk about something or someone who is not from Spain!