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September 28, 2020
By Beatrice Alvarez
An estimated 60 million Americans identify as Hispanic and/or Latinx. It must be noted that no one term can perfectly describe all the people of Latin American and Spanish-speaking descent, so when we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month we honor the contributions and accomplishments of brilliant humans with lineage from a vast geography. Among the millions we recognize are people who take pride in being descendants of over 20 different nations and people who proudly identify as Tejano, Mestizo, Afro-Latino, Hispanic, Taíno, Chicano, Nuyorican, Latinx, Indigenous, Isleños and so many more empowering labels.
This week, we shine a light on the diversity of Hispanic and Latinx people, including stories of how identifying language changes to define one group made up of millions of different American journeys. You will also see how diversity continues as Hispanic and Latinx Americans are a part of communities from Alaska to the American South.
Language evolves and some phrases catch on quickly, while others take time. Then again, some words never really take hold and become ghosts in the lexicon. In this video from KCTS in Seattle, Washington, three Seattleites share their views on identifying language and the importance of representation through labels.
It is well-known that Hispanic and Latinx people are a diverse community, so it is worth noting how Puerto Rico's own rich diversity of heritage contributes to the larger group. In this episode of If Cities Could Dance from KQED, we learn about the dance and sound of Puerto Rican bomba, a sound that originated by West Africans who were forcibly taken to the Caribbean island and enslaved. It has become a defining sound for collectives who seek to be heard and demand progress.
Also make sure you watch the episode featuring the tap and zapateado dance styles of La Mezcla dance crew. Frankly, every episode in this series informs and inspires. Stream. Them. All.
Mariachi music originated in Mexico, but it has thrived in the States not only as an art form, but also a cultural history through the generations. At times it is a uniting sound and, especially these days, a salve in hard times. This episode of Southland Sessions from PBS SoCal in Los Angeles, CA explores how mariachis are giving the community strength through their sound during the pandemic.
This episode of Indie Alaska (from Alaska Public Media) shines a light on an immigrant experience in their community: from Guatemala to Anchorage, Alaska. Hispanic Americans are woven into the fabric of America, whether new immigrants or generations that pre-dated United States.
A quinceañera is a meaningful event for Latinx families in part because it displays individual creativity woven into familial history. Reel South brings us different perspectives of just what the cultural moment means in a new place: the New South. This sweet documentary might set your pent-up teenage feelings free. Just saying.
The Boston episode of No Passport Required (full episode is available to Passport Members) explores the Brazilian (and Portuguese and Cape Verdean) ties to the city through its cuisine. Americans of Brazilian descent bring their ancestral country's layers of history to the shared heritage of Latinos here in the States. It's a beautiful thing.
Watch a collection of films and specials that highlight and add context to the many aspects of race and racism in our country.
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Nothing says 'I love you' more than a PBS binge.
Stream the best of PBS.