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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager (18) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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Hispanic Heritage Month: Informative, Important, Imperfect

I never pay much attention to being Hispanic but every year, September rolls around and I find myself being reminded of it.
Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) is observed Sept. 15-Oct. 15 and celebrates Hispanic achievements and influence in the U.S. This can be a time to reflect on the history and diversity in our community and educate ourselves about our differences and similarities.
I don’t remember when I first became aware of HHM. In Mexico, September came with festivities celebrating the country’s independence day, Sept. 16. I remember the food, music, colorful decorations and spontaneous outbursts of “Viva Mexico!”– but Mexico doesn’t observe HHM.
Once my family moved to South Texas, it seemed my new school celebrated September in a similar way. It’s hard to say if it was my lack of curiosity or my school’s emphasis on Mexican heritage rather than Hispanic heritage, but prior to higher education I was not aware of HHM either.
Living in a border town is different than living in College Station. Near McAllen, the vast majority of people I came in contact with identified themselves as Mexican-American or Mexican. For us, celebrating heritage was always about celebrating our Mexican roots.
Moving so far from the border has made me realize heritage is not bound by location. As I get older, I find myself connecting with other Hispanics through shared language and the traditions that HHM brings to the forefront.
When I first moved to College Station, I was astounded at the amount of ethnic-specific events and groups. During HHM, the university and surrounding community offers Hispanic-themed lectures, performances, exhibits and festivities. These events help some connect with their own heritage and others learn about a culture different from their own. However, I don’t always see HHM in a positive light.
The umbrella term “Hispanic” refers to cultures that sometimes are as foreign to each other as they are to non-Hispanics. “Hispanic” unifies these cultures, but also diminishes their uniqueness and reduces them to its language and colonial history.
To me, it doesn’t make sense to segregate months by subsets of history or ethnicity. It seems too much like a list of chores we have to complete, and this gives the impression that once it’s done we’re allowed to forget for a year. Heritage is not something that should be set aside, but instead witnessed year round.
I spoke to family and friends to ask what HHM meant to them. “There’s no need for it,” “I didn’t realize that was a thing” and “I don’t care for it” were amongst the most common answers. Then I remembered one of my sisters shared a picture of my two nieces, four and five-years-old, wearing folk dresses from Mexico. Their school was allowing students to wear outfits that portray Hispanic heritage, and the girls wore them proudly.
Because of HHM, second generation immigrants living in the U.S., like my nieces, are able to take part in a culture they’re not exposed to daily. I think this is the most meaningful aspect of HHM: allowing a space for those unfamiliar with their own culture to break from the norm and experience their heritage. I don’t know if there are alternatives to HHM which can bring about the same opportunities, but my hope is that we can view Hispanic heritage, and all diversity in our country, as a source of strength rather than an inconvenience.
Salvador Garcia is a performance studies graduate student and a life and arts reporter for The Battalion.

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