Making Change: Celebrating Hispanic and Latinx Heritage

September 9, 2020

A vital part of our mission is leadership. LEADERSHIP IS MAKING CHANGE.
This month: Celebrating Hispanic and Latinx Heritage

Following our Leadership is Making Change post, which was written in response to the many stories of racial inequality that plague our country, the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership Development at Worcester State University made a vow to provide support for and education about marginalized cultures and identities. Marginalized populations are defined as “groups and communities that experience discrimination and exclusion (social, political and economic) because of unequal power relationships across economic, political, social and cultural dimensions.”  This post is the first in our series Making Change, which will feature monthly posts that share historical backgrounds, educational resources (to read, watch, and listen), and activism opportunities centered around a specific culture, identity, or community.

September marks the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month, providing time to celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

We strive everyday to educate our students to be impactful campus and community leaders. Leadership begins with education. This resource list is not exhaustive, but will provide the opportunity to begin the journey of educating yourself and those around you.

Start Here

Hispanic Heritage Month
7 Facts for National Hispanic Heritage Month
Top 8 Reasons Why and How We Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
Latinx Heritage Month: More Than One Word, More Than One Heritage

To Watch

Latin History for Morons
Available on Netflix
In this one-man Broadway show, John Leguizamo finds humor and heartbreak as he traces 3,000 years of Latin history in an effort to help his bullied son.

My Identity is a Superpower – Not an Obstacle
America Ferrara, TED Talk
Hollywood needs to stop resisting what the world actually looks like, says actor, director and activist America Ferrera. Tracing the contours of her career, she calls for more authentic representation of different cultures in media — and a shift in how we tell our stories. “Presence creates possibility,” she says. “Who we see thriving in the world teaches us how to see ourselves, how to think about our own value, how to dream about our futures.”

What Afro Latinx -Want You to Know 
Pero Like, YouTube
Time to talk about micro-aggressions like: “Arregla la raza.”

What Being Hispanic and Latinx Means in the United States
Fernanda Ponce, TedX Talks
Fernanda provides a first person account of identity–addressing stereotypes and assumptions, and inviting the audience to dig deeper into the Latinx experience in the United States.  Fernanda addresses the role of Latinx people in shaping the culture, politics, and economy of the USA.

Available on Netflix
Gentefied follows the story of “three Mexican-American cousins and their struggle to chase the American Dream, even while that same dream threatens the things they hold most dear: their neighborhood, their immigrant grandfather and the family taco shop”.

Available on Netflix
Biopic of the bold and controversial life of artist Frida Kahlo. Set in Mexico City, this visually evocative film traces her lifelong, tempestuous relationship with her mentor, along with her illicit affairs with Trotsky and various women. Her forward-thinking artistic, political and sexual attitudes are explored as we witness a hard-drinking, passionate woman of the early 1900s, which earned an Oscar nomination for Salma Hayek.


Why We Need to Stop Talking About DACA and Start Talking About Immigrants
Catalina Morales, TedX Talks
Catalina Morales lives in the United States under the protection of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), but she’s much more than just a ‘dreamer.’ In her talk about what it means to be an immigrant, Catalina reminds us all of something much more important: what it means to be human.

One Day at a Time
Available on Netflix
This comedy-drama is inspired by Norman Lear’s 1975 series of the same name. This time around, the series follows the life of Penelope, a newly single Army veteran, and her Cuban-American family, as they navigate the ups and downs of life. Now a nurse, Penelope is raising two strong-willed children. When faced with challenges, Penelope turns to her “old-school” mother, and her building manager, who has become an invaluable confidant. The series offers a contemporary take on what life looks like in both good and bad times, and how loved ones can help make it all worthwhile.

Cesar Chavez
Available on YouTube Movies
Michael Peña stars as Cesar Chavez in this empowering biopic. Chavez inspired millions of Americans from all walks of life to fight for social justice. Also starring America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson and John Malkovich, this film chronicles Chavez’ triumphant journey and is a testament to the power of one individual’s ability to change the world.

To Listen

In The Thick 
If you’re looking for a daring podcast that doesn’t hesitate to feature difficult conversations, try In the Thick, hosted by award-winning journalists Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela. They don’t hold back when discussing race, identity, and politics with episodes that feature topics such as domestic terrorism, the cycles of trauma, and census suppression.

Latina to Latina
Hosted by Alicia Menendez, this podcast is an interview series that talks to remarkable Latinas about making it, faking it, and everything in between. Each episode is almost always hilarious, but, beneath it all, revealing—Menendez also talks to her guests about the challenges of being women of color, and how they have managed to thrive in the end. You will definitely want to hear recent episodes with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and Gina Torres.

Café con Pam
Pam Covarrubias is the namesake and host of this podcast, which features weekly interviews with fearless Latinos and people of color who break barriers, change lives, and make the world a better place. She tackles all of the sex questions you’ve ever wanted answered, as well as empowering (unrelated) topics like finding courage.

Café con Chisme
Café con Chisme is a Latinx podcast created and hosted by siblings Yaz + Seb. We see chisme as a tool and practice for social justice—inspired by the mujeres and femmes who raised us and taught us how to be fierce, tell a good story, and speak truth to power—all with a little laughter. Join us as we take on cultural critiques of race, politics, and pop culture—to imagine new possibilities and more just worlds.

Life in Spanglish
Join Honey German and Carolina Bermudez as they talk about living their best lives in Spanglish! In their podcast the girls take on topics such as juggling demanding careers and marriage, breaking into the radio industry, staying motivated, weight struggles, motherhood, hair salon etiquette, staying connected to their roots and roots and much more.

To Read

We encourage you to utilize your local library or independent bookstore. Books can also be requested through the Worcester State Library when classes are back in session. Students may be eligible to access some of the titles below with a free 2-month Kindle Unlimited trial subscription or free Audible trial.

Clap When You Land
Elizabeth Acevedo
In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Vincent Toro
Puerto Rican poet Vincent Toro’s new collection takes the Latin American idea of an artistic social gathering (the “tertulia”) and revises it for the Latinx context in the United States. In verses dense with juxtaposition, the collection examines immigration, economics, colonialism and race via the sublime imagery of music, visual art, and history. Toro draws from his own social justice work in various U.S. cities to create a kaleidoscopic vision of the connections between the personal and the political, the local and the global, in a book that both celebrates and questions the complexities of the human condition.

In the Country We Love: My Family Divided
Diane Guerrero
Diane Guerrero, the television actress from the megahit Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, was just fourteen years old on the day her parents were detained and deported while she was at school. Born in the U.S., Guerrero was able to remain in the country and continue her education, depending on the kindness of family friends who took her in and helped her build a life and a successful acting career for herself, without the support system of her family. 

Angie Cruz
After the death of dictator Rafael Trujillo, the Dominican Republic is poised to begin its healing, but economic and political upheaval fling its communities into further chaos. For the Canción family, young Ana might be their ticket off the island, so they push her into a loveless marriage with a man twice her age who whisks her off to New York City. Vulnerable but not so naïve, Ana is able to survive the cold city streets and her abusive relationship: “I have learned a lot from growing up with animals.” But every day is a new test of her will to endure for the sake of her loved ones and to resist the possibility of true love. Dominicana is a triumphant return for Cruz, 14 years after the publication of her last novel. The journey of Ana Canción is one of the most evocative and empowering immigrant stories of our time.

Next Year in Havana
Chanel Cleeton
Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest—until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary…

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth. 

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba’s tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she’ll need the lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.

Sandinista: Carlos Fonseca and the Nicaraguan Revolution
Matilde Zimmermann
Sandinista is the first English-language biography of Carlos Fonseca Amador, the legendary leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front of Nicaragua (the FSLN) and the most important and influential figure of the post–1959 revolutionary generation in Latin America. Fonseca, killed in battle in 1976, was the undisputed intellectual and strategic leader of the FSLN. In a groundbreaking and fast-paced narrative that draws on a rich archive of previously unpublished Fonseca writings, Matilde Zimmermann sheds new light on central themes in his ideology as well as on internal disputes, ideological shifts, and personalities of the FSLN.

Who Are You Calling Latinx?
How Latina Women Are Shaping the US Economy 
For Latinos Ineligible To Vote, US Census Offers Path To Political Power 
Opinion | How Latinos Can Win the Culture War
In California, Latinos Bear the Brunt Force of the Coronavirus
Undocumented but unafraid: How my immigrant story led to DACA protections for young people
Latinos Shouldn’t Have To Prove Their Latinidad

To Act, Support, & Learn More

Hispanic Heritage Foundation
NALEO Educational Fund
Voto Latino: Home
United We Dream
Hispanic Scholarship Fund
Challenges for Latin America in the 21st Century | OpenMind
Latino Rebels
Remezcla | The New Latin Wave
Latino Voices

Campus Resources

Counseling Services
Office of Multicultural Affairs
Student Involvement and Leadership Development 
Student Affairs

Resource list compiled by Linzy Martinez, Assistant Director, Office of Student Involvement & Leadership Development
Featured photo: “Picturing Paradise” features cuadros, embroidered and appliquéd fabric pictures created by women of Compacto Humano and Manos Ancashinas, two art cooperatives in Pamplona Alta, located on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. Learn more.