Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month and Indigenous Peoples' Day

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated every September 15th through October 15th to honor “the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.” The JEDI team is sharing recommendations below that celebrate these communities through movies, music, books, podcasts, tv shows, and more.

To learn more about the Month’s history and why the dates chosen have a special meaning, check out this article from History.com. Bonus, here are some Latina-owned businesses to support.

Resources on Frida Kahlo

via Arlene D’Attilio

I would like to highlight one of my Sheroes, the incomparable icon, Frida Kahlo:

“Spirited, unyielding and bold. Frida Kahlo was a woman who dared to defy the circumstances of her unfortunate life. Her works of art may have showcased great talent, but it was her tenacity in the face of hardship and a gender-biased society that have become valuable inspiration for many… Despite the harsh gender inequality of the 1900s, Kahlo was honest about being a woman. And that is what that puts her, even now, at the forefront of being a feminist. Never once did she hide, cower or expect to be shielded from the harsh realities of her life. She refused to alter her features. These included her mono-brow and faint moustache, which were labelled as inappropriately “masculine”. She even exaggerated them more in her self-portraits. Nevertheless, Kahlo was not afraid to be herself – a woman.”

  • In Books:
    • Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera: “Frida is the story of one of the twentieth century’s most extraordinary women, the painter Frida Kahlo. Born near Mexico City, she grew up during the turbulent days of the Mexican Revolution and, at eighteen, was the victim of an accident that left her crippled and unable to bear children. To salvage what she could from her unhappy situation, Kahlo had to learn to keep still – so she began to paint. Kahlo’s unique talent was to make her one of the century’s most enduring artists. But her remarkable paintings were only one element of a rich and dramatic life. Frida is also the story of her tempestuous marriage to the muralist Diego Rivera, her love affairs with numerous, diverse men such as Isamu Noguchi and Leon Trotsky, her involvement with the Communist Party, her absorption in Mexican folklore and culture, and of the inspiration behind her unforgettable art.”
  • On Film:
    • Frida: “Salma Hayek gives a passionate, Oscar-nominated performance in this biographical drama about Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.”
  • Documentary
    • Frida Kahlo: The Definitive Film Exploring the Life and Art of a Global Icon: “Who was Frida Kahlo? Everyone knows her, but who was the woman behind the bright colours, the big brows, and the floral crowns? Take a journey through the life of a true icon, discover her art, and uncover the truth behind her often turbulent life. Making use of the latest technology to deliver previously unimaginable quality, we take an in-depth look at key works throughout her career. Using letters Kahlo wrote to guide us, this definitive film reveals her deepest emotions and unlocks the secrets and symbolism contained within her art. Exhibition on Screen’s trademark combination of interviews, commentary and a detailed exploration of her art delivers a treasure trove of colour and a feast of vibrancy. This personal and intimate film offers privileged access to her works, and highlights the source of her feverish creativity, her resilience, and her unmatched lust for life, politics, men and women. Delving deeper than any film has done before, engaging with world-renowned Kahlo experts, exploring how great an artist she was, discover the real Frida Kahlo.”

“Feet, what do I need them for if I have wings to fly.”― Frida Kahlo

Latinx-Owned Bookstores and Audiobooks

via Jenny Waldmann

Libro.fm (an audiobook provider) has published a list of Latinx-owned bookstores across the U.S. While it doesn’t look like there is a local Philadelphia option, many of the bookstores offer online shopping options. (Here are some other non-book related Latinx-owned businesses in the Philly area.)

Libro.fm also has a list of Latinx-authored audiobooks available on its site and app.

A bonus recommendation: some food for thought from NPR on the title of Hispanic Heritage Month and why it doesn’t currently utilize the term “Latinx,” which has been growing in popularity.

A TV Show, Books, and Poetry

via Jessica Flamholz

I highly recommend Gentefied if you’re looking to binge a dramedy with guts (before Season 2 drops next month). The series follows the Morales cousins who hustle to save their grandfather’s taco shop and pursue their own dreams as gentrification shakes up their neighborhood in LA. It really peeks behind the characters, into their joy and struggles with identity and community.

Bonus: this article with scholar John Phillip Santos takes a look at how shows like Gentefied boost Latinx representation and stories in media.

For an incredibly moving book filled with unflinching honesty and humanity, The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez is one I could read and recommend endlessly. Per Goodreads: “A dazzling, heartbreaking page-turner destined for breakout status: a novel that gives voice to millions of Americans as it tells the story of the love between a Panamanian boy and a Mexican girl: teenagers living in an apartment block of immigrant families like their own.”

If you want dark, riveting fiction, please read anything by Silvia Moreno-García, including Gods of Jade and Shadow, a dark fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore. It follows Casiopea Tun, a young woman growing up in rural Mexico who accidently frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death and goes on a life-changing journey across the country. She’s an amazing writer with a lot of range.

Lastly, if you need poetry for your ears, I cannot recommend Uruguayan singer-songwriter Jorge Drexler enough. He paints a world of connection, beauty, and humanity in everything he writes and sings, with as voice as light as wings. For a taste before diving into his whole discography, I hope you’ll listen to his 2018 Tiny Desk Concert – with subtitles translating his songs. In so many ways, he builds on the tradition of other brilliant musical storytellers (whom I also love), like Mercedes Sosa, Victor Jara, Silvio Rodriguez, and Pablo Milanés.

Latinx Romance Novels

via Jillian Getting

I’d like to highlight author Alexis Daria, a Puerto Rican author and New York native who writes about wide-ranging Latino families in her Primas of Power romance series. “Latinx people are not a monolith, and I think often we get lumped in that way. And sometimes it is easier to use the term Latino, Latina, or Latinx …. But I think even within that, it is important for us to show that there are different cultures, different groups.” (Source)

The first two novels in the series, You Had Me at Hola and A Lot Like Adiós are full of complex and entertaining main characters dealing with real life, contemporary obstacles as they figure out their lives – both professional and romantic. Reading each book, I fell in love with all the characters and rooted for them whole-heartedly.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

We also want to acknowledge yesterday’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day. “The idea [for the day] was first proposed by Indigenous peoples at a United Nations conference in 1977 held to address discrimination against Natives, as NPR has reported. But South Dakota became the first state to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples day in 1989, officially celebrating it the following year.

Biden’s proclamation [this year] signifies a formal adoption of a day that a growing number of states and cities have come to acknowledge. Last week, Boston joined Arizona, Oregon, Texas, Louisiana, Washington, D.C., and several other states in dedicating a second Monday in October to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Native Americans have borne the brunt of the work to make that happen. Many state and local governments have gone a step further. More than a dozen states and well over 100 cities celebrate the day, with many of them having altogether dropped the holiday honoring Columbus to replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” Learn more about it here.

Here are ideas for how to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Philly and other ways outside the area—and bonus, 15 Native-owned brands to support and a resource about the Lenape of Pennsylvania.