Hispanic Heritage Month Syllabus

Hispanic Heritage Month is complicated for me, to say the least. From September 15 to October 15, we are told it is socially and politically acceptable to host festivals and fiestas in honor of our culture. For thirty days, we are encouraged to show national and ethnic pride; for the rest of the year, we are asked (not so politely) to erase our accents and hide our homelands.

From the outside, it can seem as if Hispanic Heritage Month is nothing more than an excuse to “order the tacos” or sign up for zumba classes. But, it — we — are so much more than that. Our histories and experiences in this country are diverse and span centuries. We come from a variety of racial, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds. Some of us are immigrants; many are native to this land. We aren’t a monolithic group and our struggles aren’t monolithic, either.

It has taken me years to understand the varieties and contours of my Latinxdxd, to understand how I am oppressed and how I am privileged, to be proud of my roots and embrace my intersecting identities. So, in honor of Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month, I have compiled a list of books, videos, articles, and songs that have helped me come to terms with who I am and what it means to be Latinx.

The usefulness of Hispanic Heritage Month? Should Hispanic Heritage Month be done away with, as Adriana Maestas’ piece argues, or is there a need for such a celebration, even if it is structured according to the colonizer’s terms?

As a Latina, I Have a Problem with Hispanic Heritage Month by Juliana Britto Schwartz

Decolonize Hispanic Heritage Month or Get Rid of It by Adriana Maestas

Hispanic Heritage Month May Be Imperfect, But It’s Necessary by Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez

When Hispanic Heritage Month is a Time to Grieve  by Barbara Sostaita 

The Case for ‘Latinx’? These writers and activists argue that ‘Hispanic’ is too limited a term to describe the Latinx population. Even the terms ‘Latino/a’ and ‘Latin@’, while attempting to be inclusive, reproduce an oppressive gender binary. 

Latinx: The Ungendering of the Spanish Language by NPR Latino Voices

What Is the Term Latinx So Important? by Erika Ramirez

Why We Say Latinx: Trans & Gender Non-Conforming People Explain by Raquel Reichard

What Makes Us Latinxs? What has our impact been on U.S. popular culture, from food to politics, entertainment to literature? How are we continually exoticized and invisibilized even as we gain popularity in politics and the marketplace? What do we share as Latinxs and what makes us different?

Latinos, Inc. The Marketing & Making of a People by Arlene Davilla

Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America by Juan Gonzalez

The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States by Miriam Jimenez Roman, Juan Flores 

Latino Cultural Citizenship: Claiming Identity, Space, and Rights by William V. Flores and Rina Benmayor

Immigration, Hybridity, and Mestizaje: Many Latinxs are either migrants ourselves or the children of migrants. How does this shape who we are as individuals and communities? What does it mean to be neither here nor there? What does it mean to live in the borderlands, shuffling back and forth between our different identities?

Borderlands/ La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa

Migrant Imaginaries: Latino Cultural Politics in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands by Alicia Schmidt Camacho

Undocumented to Hyperdocumented: A Jornada of Protection, Papers, and PhD Status by Aurora Chang

I’m Neither Here Nor There: Mexicans’ Quotidian Struggles with Migration and Poverty by Patricia Zavella

Latinx Feminisms: There is no such thing as a single Latinx feminism. These books explore the long history of Latinx women in the struggle, what it means to be a queer Latinx, and the fetishization, exoticization, and racialization to which our bodies are subjected.

¡Chicana Power!: Contested Histories of Feminism in the Chicano Movement by Maylei Blackwell

A House of My Own: Stories From My Life by Sandra Cisneros

A Cup of Water Under My Bed: A Memoir by Daisy Hernandez

From Bananas to Buttocks: The Latina Body in Popular Film and Culture by Myra Mendible

Loving in the War Years: Lo Que Nunca Paso Por Sus Labios by Cherrie Moraga

This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherrie Moraga, Gloria Anzaldúa, Toni Cade Bambara

Header via Latina Rebels, artist unknown 

Durham, NC

Barbara is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina interested in im/migration and migrant activism and organizing.

Barbara is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina interested in im/migration and migrant activism and organizing.

Read more about Barbara

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