On The Vine: Why does Hispanic Heritage Month start in mid-September?

·3 min read
Aaron Torres
Aaron Torres

Hi everyone, welcome to this week’s On The Vine. I’m Aarón Torres and I wanted to write about Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. This month, we’re going to tell stories about different Latino and Hispanic peoples and cultures across Kansas City. But I wouldn’t be doing my job — or Hispanic and Latino people justice — by only writing stories during Hispanic Heritage Month.

Hispanic Heritage Month is weird to me. I’m Mexican and bilingual, born to Mexican parents, who immigrated to the United States when I was 4 years old. I still remember that day. But growing up, my parents and my siblings never celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month. I never knew it existed.

It’s also important to note that different Latin American and Hispanic countries have different cultures and different customs. Use this month to learn about them. And use this month to learn about the diversity that exists among Latino and Hispanic people. There are Black Latinos and Hispanic people. There are Asian Latino and Hispanic people.

This month isn’t just about sombreros and tacos, about ponchos and margaritas, because what we wear, and what we eat, isn’t what makes us Hispanic and Latino.

And a final anecdote: yesterday, I texted my friend a picture of my pet bunny wearing a sombrero (more pictures of my bunny are available on my Twitter account). I wrote a little message to go along with it:

“Today and every day,” my text read.

“Key point,” my friend, who is Latina, wrote back, “Every day.”

For the culture

The free Fiesta Hispana KC will run Sept. 11-12 at Barney Allis Plaza downtown.
The free Fiesta Hispana KC will run Sept. 11-12 at Barney Allis Plaza downtown.

Why Hispanic Heritage Month starts in the middle of September

Dakin Andone writes for CNN:

Rather than starting at the beginning of September, Hispanic Heritage Month takes place over 30 days starting on the 15th -- a nod to the anniversaries of national independence for a number of Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua all recognize September 15 as the date of their independence, while Mexico’s independence is celebrated September 16 and Chile celebrates its independence September 18.

Hispanic Heritage Month traces its history to 1968, when the observance was just a week long. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill designating the week of September 15 as “National Hispanic Heritage Week,” according to the Office of the Historian and the Office of Art & Archives for the US House of Representatives.

It wasn’t until nearly 20 years later that Hispanic Heritage Week was lengthened to an entire month under President Ronald Reagan.

Latino Americans are optimistic about the country’s future despite being hit hard by the pandemic, a Pew survey finds

Rep. Esteban Torres of California had submitted a bill to expand it, saying in remarks at the time, “We want the public to know that we share a legacy with the rest of the country, a legacy that includes artists, writers, Olympic champions, and leaders in business, government, cinema, and science.”

Take a second and check out...

“Whitney” begins with Whitney Houston at her 1980s zenith.
“Whitney” begins with Whitney Houston at her 1980s zenith.

Whitney Houston’s ‘The Bodyguard’ Gets Remake at Warner Bros. Written by Tony Nominee Matthew López

This is decidedly not for the culture. It might actually be actively working against the culture. But we’re (apparently) getting a remake to Whitney Houston’s — and Kevin Costner’s, sure — seminal motion picture, “The Bodyguard.”

Variety’s Matt Donnelly reports:

Matthew López, the Tony-nominated playwright of “The Inheritance,” has been hired to write a reimagining of the iconic Whitney Houston film “The Bodyguard” at Warner Bros.

The new movie will be inspired by the 1992 romantic drama, which starred Houston and Kevin Costner. The original grossed more than $400 million at the worldwide box office and has what is considered the bestselling movie soundtrack of all time, with several chart-topping original songs from Houston.

Around the block

Protesters gather at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house Tuesday night near the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence to protest an alleged sexual assault over the weekend by a member of the fraternity.
Protesters gather at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house Tuesday night near the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence to protest an alleged sexual assault over the weekend by a member of the fraternity.

Is KU committed to ending college rape culture? Admins say yes. Students don’t buy it

On Monday in Lawrence, Kansas, scenes of hundreds of students from the University of Kansas gathering outside of a fraternity house flooded social media.

They were chanting “We believe her.”

They’d rallied after a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity had been accused of sexually assaulting another student at a party at the house over the weekend.

They were back in front of the house protesting on Tuesday too.

Students at KU have called out the administration for not doing enough in response to the alleged assault, nor doing enough to protect students on campus and working to end the the rape culture that has plagued the university.

The Star’s Anna Spoerre and Katie Bernard (assisted by reporting from a collection of journalists here) write:

In September 2014 more than 200 KU students had gathered for a forum on the same cause.

They were concerned about the high rates of sexual assault on campus, and what they viewed as insufficient accountability for assailants.

Despite the creation of a new office and reform of sexual assault prevention and response policies that followed in 2015, the voices of the protesting students of today echo those of the students who spoke up in 2014: The university hasn’t done enough...

In the time since the university instituted its reforms, sexual assault has remained a pervasive issue on the campus. In a 2019 survey 24% of undergraduate women reported they had been sexually assaulted during their time in college. Rates of rapes reported to campus police have not budged with 18 reported in 2014 and 20 reported in 2019 according to data provided to The Star...

Students say the university committed to change in image only, and that students who report rape continue to be dismissed while assailants are protected.

“To say that you care about sexual assault… and to know continually that this is not an isolated incident but to really institute no reform when that is your entire job, to say that you care about sexual assault is a joke,” said Faith Maddox, a KU senior and sexual assault survivor.

Don’t forget to read this too...

Beyond the block

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser makes a point at a news conference in Denver, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. Weiser says a civil rights investigation begun amid outrage over the death of Elijah McClain has determined that the Aurora, Colo., Police Department has a pattern of racially-biased policing. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser makes a point at a news conference in Denver, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. Weiser says a civil rights investigation begun amid outrage over the death of Elijah McClain has determined that the Aurora, Colo., Police Department has a pattern of racially-biased policing. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Aurora, Colo., police have pattern of racial bias, according to probe triggered by Elijah McClain death

After a 14-month investigation by a team appointed by the Colorado attorney general Phil Weiser, the office found that police in Aurora, Colo., have a pattern of racially biased policing and excessive force.

*gasps Blackly*

Andrew Jeong reports for The Washington Post:

Police engaged in repeated abuses against minorities, especially Black people, the state’s attorney general said Wednesday as he announced the findings of an investigation launched in response to the police killing of a 23-year-old Black man in the city in 2019.

The state will now ask Aurora to sign a voluntary consent decree that will appoint a third-party monitor to oversee changes to the city’s police and fire departments. The state is also prepared to seek a court order that will require Aurora to comply if the efforts to produce changes are unsuccessful, Weiser told reporters.

Weiser began a 14-month investigation into Aurora’s police and fire departments in 2020, as outrage over police brutality against racial minorities grew following the murder of George Floyd by a White police officer in Minnesota.

The Floyd murder resulted in a broader look at previous police killings of minorities, including the August 2019 killing of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black massage therapist who was stopped on his way home from a convenience store. Police officers put him in a chokehold, and paramedics administered — without McClain’s consent — about 50 percent more ketamine than recommended for a person with McClain’s 143-pound body size.

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