Stop tolerating, start celebrating

Editorial Board

On Sept. 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month — a cultural celebration of the contributions Hispanic Americans have made to our country — officially began. Sept. 15 is rooted in symbolism, as it is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile, too, celebrate their respective independence on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18. Considering 60 million Americans identify as Hispanic, the month-long cultural celebration is certainly deserved.

Hispanic Heritage Month is especially relevant for the UTSA community; the university is “proud to be a federally-designated Hispanic Serving Institution.” UTSA declares they are “committed to becoming a leading model Hispanic thriving university with an emphasis on serving our Hispanic students and community.” 

Unfortunately, erasure of the impact Hispanics have made on our country is frighteningly common. For many of us who grew up weaving our way through the Texas school system, our impressionable brains were inundated with a deluge of reverie and patriotism for our white, male founding fathers. We were encouraged to relentlessly worship the sacred ground of historic figures like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson while carelessly uninformed of their problematic pasts. Yet truth be told, our country’s history — and for Texans, our state’s history—is far more culturally vibrant than the pages of your history textbook will tell you. 

In recent years, our polarizing political climate has divided the nation — both figuratively and literally. The Trump Administration undoubtedly fueled the heated political fire with barbaric generalizations, demonstrating his ignorance by equating Mexicans and Hispanics at large as criminals, stating, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Despite the millions of Hispanics that call the U.S. “home,” somehow there is still a corrupt coalition in our country who refuse to acknowledge the significant contributions they’ve made to our society. While the Trump Administration is no longer in office, the ramifications of their xenophobia echo through the streets. We have not forgotten. 

However, despite the cracks in the foundation of our country, there is still hope for a better tomorrow. Hope is rooted in knowledge, and we must acquire that knowledge ourselves by diligently seeking it out. We must educate ourselves on our internal biases, training ourselves to replace ignorance with enlightenment; hatred with compassion; anger with peace. We must acknowledge the dark, shadowy corners of our complicated history, and carve a path to a brighter future. We must do our best to ensure that future generations will thrive with inclusivity, racial discrimination an unfathomable relic of the past. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.