Why is National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 - Oct. 15) important to me? Well, for starters, I love any reason to celebrate and secondly, I'm Hispanic.
Almost daily, people ask me where I'm from. What they're really want to know is, what's my nationality. I'm American. I was born here, my parents were born here, and even my grandparents were born here. That being said, I have both Spanish and Mexican roots. I was born in the border town of Brownsville, Texas. If you pull up a map, you'll see that its only minutes away from Matamoros, Tamaulipas. If you ever partied down in Texas during Spring Break, you'll know exactly where I'm talking about.
Spanish was, for the most part, my first language. I didn't incorporate English into my vocabulary until I started school. Having grown up in Texas, I grew up eating chicken fried steak and bbq brisket, alongside beans and tortillas. I still speak Spanish to my relatives down South. It's my culture.
Why is this important? Well, as a reader, I can't help but notice that we (i.e. Hispanics/Latinos) aren't represented as much as we should be. As one of the largest minority groups in the U.S., you'd think folks (*ahem* writers) would be clued in on the fact that we're everywhere! We come in all shapes and sizes and while we may not all be the stereotypical Hispanic that comes to mind, we're here and we not going anywhere. Case in point...did you know almost half the cast of Jersey Shore is actually Hispanic? (JWOW, Snooki, and Ron).
Today, I read a great post by Marcela Landres, former editor at Simon & Schuster, on paying tribute to Latino authors/actors.
But support isn't limited to just writers and actors though. What about supporting Hispanic bloggers? Check out the Latina Book Club for a great reading list. If YA is your thing, try Books with Bite, run by the lovely Savannah (who coincidentally, is from the same hometown I am). Need a gossip fix? Let's not forget one of the most successful tabloid blogs, run by none other than Perez Hilton.
What about books? I know what some of you might be thinking, I don't really want to read a cultural book. Hey, I hear ya. Personally, I'm not big on those types of books either, but just because a book has minority characters or is written by a Hispanic author doesn't necesarily make it cultural. It just makes it realistic. Because seriously folks, do we really live an an all gringo world? I didn't think so.
So here's a list of some books I've come across where the authors are ahead of the game by incorporating Hispanic characters in their books:
The Zellie Wells Trilogy, Stacey Wallace Benefiel
The Paranormals Series, JL Bryan
Into the Shadows and Bloody Little Secrets Kacey Kirkpatrick
Sure, I can sit here and say, "Buy Latino!", but sometimes it's not always about celebrating Latino authors, but recognizing those that support us.