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Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month

A curated list of films, media, and books celebrating the rich histories, complexities, and impactful contributions of Latinx/e/a/o and Hispanic communities to the culture and history of the United States.

A Dream For All

In celebration of Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15), the Library EDI Committee presents this curated list of films, media, and literature to highlight the rich diversity and impactful contributions of Hispanic and Latinx/e/a/o communities on American culture, society, and the world over.

Why is Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month celebrated September 15 - October 15?

  • September 15 was chosen as the starting date as it marks the historical anniversary of independence of 5 Central American countries from Spain including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras.
  • The month-long celebration also coincides with the national independence days of Mexico (Sep 16), Chile (Sep 18th), Belize (Sep 21), and Puerto Rico (Sep 23)

No matter the choice of word(s) an individual or group uses to describe their heritage, we acknowledge the unique cultural differences among all Spanish-speaking countries along with the many distinct cultures throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Allowing one another the space to listen, learn about, share conversations, and celebrate one's heritage is an essential step to recognizing the intrinsic value of all cultures that make up the American fabric. 

We encourage you to explore the films within this guide and share/reflect with others using the additional research and learning resources provided for many of the selections. 

Sharing Differences

In this brief overview, UC Berkley researcher Cristina Mora examines the origins of the words Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx and points to the larger socio-economic impacts of how these terms are used and adopted by different societies.  

It is important to recognize that people of Latin American, Caribbean, Spanish, and Portuguese descent in the United States are not a monolith. No one term can ever fully capture the diversity of identities, ethnicities, nationalities, races, and experiences which are grouped under terms like "Latinx," "Latine," Latino/a," "Hispanic," and "Hispanic-American." Use of these words is contextual and situational.

The very desire for one all-encompassing term to describe this diverse mix of people comes from academic, governmental, activist, and economic impulses and strategies to identify labels for groups--despite the fact that many individuals within those groups do not use or prefer to describe themselves with those terms. 

Here are some essential keywords and nuances to keep in mind while exploring the sources within this guide, and conducting further research: 

Latino, Latina, Latin@

Commonly used adjectives in books, book chapters, articles, and mass media that allow gender binaries of masculine (o), feminine (a) and masculine/feminine (@). Latino as an adjective reflects the acceptance of the -o ending in Spanish to describe a group of people that includes men; men and women; or as a default when gender is not specified. Latin@ is used to encompass masculine and feminine.

Latinx, Latine 

Latinx and Latine originated as categories by and for transgender and gender-diverse individuals. They have come into wider use as a form of rejecting masculine/feminine gender binaries when labeling a group that encompasses diverse gender identities. Latine is a more recent development than Latinx that reflects a preference to use the "e" rather than the "x" because it is easier to pronounce in speech. Both tend to be used in progressive and activist-leaning publications, whether academic or popular/ mass media. At present, you are more likely to find Latinx in academic publications and databases than Latine.

Hispanic

Term used by the U.S. Government to collect census data, thus a common keyword in demography, politics and media. It is also a term that many use to self-identify, along with the Spanish hispana/o.

Hispanic Americans

Key term to use when looking for books, since this continues to be the standard Library of Congress subject heading used to catalog books about Latines in the United States.

Chicano, Chicana,  Chicanx, Chicane

Refers to Mexican-Americans, particularly in relation to activist movements of the 20th century

Mexican-American, Mexican Americans

Cuban-American, Cuban-Americans

Venezuelan-American, Venezuelan-Americans

etc.

Hyphenated nationalities are commonly used across publications and in Library of Congress subject headings.

Puerto Rican, Puerto Ricans

Commonly used across publications, including Library of Congress subject headings. Also try boricua, which may appear in titles and texts, but not subject headings.

Cubans --- United States

Mexicans --- United States

Venezuelans --- United States

Colombians --- United States

etc.

Try subject searches for nationality AND United States when looking for academic resources.

Afro-Latino, Afro-Latina, Afro-Latinx, Afro-Latine

Terms used to describe people of both African and Latin American descent. Not a Library of Congress subject heading. 

African-American, African-Americans

Library of Congress subject heading that may be used in combination with others for books about Afro-Latines, e.g. African-Americans AND Hispanic-Americans.

Black, Blacks

Library of Congress subject heading that may be used in combination with others for books about Afro-Latines, e.g. Blacks AND Hispanic-Americans, Blacks AND Colombia, Blacks AND Brazil...

 

To Find a Way

Openly sharing one's family heritage and history with others takes a great deal of courage. Many families who have made the difficult decision of leaving their homeland to live in another country face tremendous pressures to assimilate and leave behind the original customs and traditions of their ancestors.

This insightful and personal testimonial below by Itzel Martinez, a UC Berkley alum and graduate in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, chronicles the many obstacles she and her family experienced immigrating to the United States from Oaxaca, Mexico. 

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