How to Have a Robust Approach to ‘Hispanic Heritage Month’
by the Rocketship Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion National Leadership Team
September 15th launches a month of independence day celebrations across the Americas, a Columbus/Indigenous People’s Day debate, the #HispanicHeritageMonth hashtag, and activities in schools across the nation that span the gamut of robust to reductive. Like other cultural heritage month celebrations, some argue that a special month is needed in a country where Anglo European history dominates historical discourse.
Others argue that confining these lessons to 30 days can compartmentalize and further silo non-dominant groups while accomplishing little more than checking a superficial box. Whatever your stance may be, we believe that one of the most important steps in making our classrooms inclusive places that celebrate, honor, and teach these lessons is by integrating age-appropriate content into the curriculum all year long. Thoughtful integration of meaningful content into our pedagogy is critical, and something we continue to work towards as we strive to become an anti-racist organization. In addition to this, we also acknowledge that celebrating cultural heritage months can be a positive opportunity to plug into a national discourse with students and staff in schools, offices, and at home.
And in that spirit, here are some ideas on how to spark conversions and learning with both children and adults around “Hispanic Heritage Month” in an effort to go beyond the reductive:
- Teaching for Change has a lot of great social justice resources for elementary educators, a series on Teaching Central America, and a resource packet specifically around Latino Heritage Month.
- Familiarize your students in upper grades with a U.S. Latinx civil rights history timeline from Teaching Tolerance and dispel the mainstream myth of a homogenous Latinx identity by discussing the racial spectrum of experience held under the term ‘Hispanic’.
- Learn about young Latinx activists who are standing up for immigrants, farmworkers, the environment, and more.
- It’s all in a name. Explore the creation of the word “Hispanic” as a category in the U.S. Census and discuss the contention around the words Hispanic, Latino/a, as well as Latine and Latinx.
- Check out the work of organizations, like Undocublack, that expand the traditional imagery of an immigrant. Understand how immigration policies like DACA or agencies like ICE affect our communities. Follow United We Dream, the nation’s largest immigrant youth-led community, and check out their toolkit for educators to support undocumented students. The recent ICE documentary on Netflix is a difficult, but worthwhile, watch for adults.
- Listen to the stories of Afro-Latinx communities as well as Asian-Latinx communities and Indigenous communities.
- Explore more Latinx identity research in the Pew Research Center, and the complexities of multiracial/cultural/lingual identity.
- Read about cultural appropriation versus cultural appreciation from the PBS series, What I Hear When You Say.
- Stock your classroom with 60 Empowering Books Starring Latina Mighty Girls
- Check out our Los Dichos program, for bilingual read-alouds for elementary students
We are proud that many of our schools were founded on soil rich in Latinx activism, and that those roots run deep in our school culture. Cesar Chavez’s family home is just a few blocks away from our schools in East San Jose, in fact, some of his direct descendants are Rocketeers at Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep. And Rocketship Si Se Puede’s name pays homage to another great resident of East San Jose, activist Dolores Huerta.
Do you have any lessons or activities planned this month that you’d like to share with us? Tag us on our @Rocketshipschools social media platforms!
The Rocketship Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) National Leadership Team was founded in 2019 to lead DEI work across the network. Our vision is to unleash the full potential of our incredible team and communities by purposefully pursuing representation in our communities and breaking down barriers to power. At Rocketship, we work to create a safe, collaborative environment that celebrates our differences and strengthens our community. Our pursuit of diversity, equity, and inclusion recognizes the systemic inequality of opportunity in our society, and we seek to address these disparities.
Published on September 10, 2020