Skip to Main Content
Library Logo WOU Home Library Home

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month: Home


Hispanic refers to someone who speaks the Spanish language. Hispanics are people from or with ancestors from Spain, Mexico, Central America and South America. Brazilians are not considered Hispanic, however, because they speak Portuguese.

Latino/a refers to the geographic origin of someone. Latinos are from or have ancestors from Latin America which includes Mexico, Central America and South America. In this case, Brazilians are considered Latino, but people from Spain are not.

Latinx/e is a gender-neutral neologism, sometimes used instead of Latino or Latina to refer to people of Latin American cultural or racial identity in the United States.

Chicano/a is a chosen identity term that refers to someone who is native of, or descends from, Mexico and lives in the United States. It is rooted in the 1960s Chicano Movement which promotes retaining a connection to, and pride in one's community, culture, and ethnicity, and also has ties to political/labor activism.

Spanish refers to a language or someone from Spain.

But seriously, who? Because while it is Hispanic Heritage Month, the notion of a multiracial, multinational, pan-ethnic identity called "Hispanic" is a relatively recent — and somewhat haphazard invention — in the United States. So on this episode, we're digging into how the term got created and why it continues to both unite and bewilder.

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively.

The Umbrella of "Hispanic" and "Latino/a"


What is Latinx/e?