By Sharon Schweitzer
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.
While the terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” are interchangeably used, their difference lies in the primary language spoken. Hispanic describes “a person from — or whose ancestors were from — a Spanish-speaking land or culture.” This excludes Brazil because Portuguese is the official language, but it includes Spain. Meanwhile, Latino, Latina and Latinx describe a person from Latin America, which includes Brazil, but excludes Spain.
This year, we focus on the themes of prosperity, power, and progress, recognizing the significant strides of Hispanics in the economic, political, and social growth of the U.S. under the theme “Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power, and Progress in America.”
These three themes – prosperity, power, and progress – are all interconnected. Our economic success leads to more power and influence, which, in turn, drives further progress for our community. It’s a cycle propelling us forward, an exciting time to be a Hispanic in America, and a critical moment to mobilize and equip Corporate America to engage genuinely with Hispanics as employees, suppliers, consumers, and the community.
So how many Hispanics truly reside in the United States? According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. Hispanic population reached 62.5 million in 2021, up from 50.5 million in 2010. The 19% increase in the Hispanic population was faster than the nation’s 7% growth rate, but slower than the 23% increase in the Asian population. In 2021, Hispanics made up nearly one-in-five people in the U.S. (19%) – the 50 states and the District of Columbia. This is up from 16% in 2010 and just 5% in 1970.
People use this celebration to show the importance of Hispanics in the U.S. by donating to Hispanic charities, eating food from any of the countries that are being celebrated, learning from their cultures and honoring influential Hispanics who have made an impact on society.
Photo by Mr. Boris A. Jiron
Sharon Schweitzer JD, is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.
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