Las Jefas: Hispanics, Who Are We? We Are America
By Marisa Rivera
Every year during Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15) we celebrate the enormous contributions Hispanics have made to America. Let’s not forget that Hispanics/Latinos have been here long before the USA was born in 1776.
Hispanic Americans and their descendants have had a profound and lasting influence in American history, values, and culture. We have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect a history that ties us all together.
Hispanics – Who Are We? Many of us can trace our roots to the cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, including the Arawak’s, the Aztecs, the Incas, the Mayans, and the Taínos. Many others trace their roots to the Spanish conquistadores, or Africans slaves. We are a mix of all those, valiant natives, bold aggressors, unwilling slaves that have survived, adapted, prevailed, and now thrive.
The truth of the matter is that Hispanics on this continent and in this country, predate the founding of our nation in 1776 by nearly 300 years.
Hispanics have always played a major role in the growth, development, and success of this country.
So who are we?
We are your neighbors: Hispanics today are 62.1 million, or 18.7 percent of the U.S. population and represent 25 percent of the youth population. 1 out of 5 people in the U.S. are Hispanic. (Census 2020 & NBCUniversal Telemundo and BuzzFeed News. Young Latinos a Generation of change, 2020).
We are the workforce and service providers: 86 percent of new businesses in the last 10 years have been launched by Hispanics. 8 out of 10 new businesses are Latino-owned, representing 82 percent of the workforce growth in the U.S. and best of all, Latinas open businesses six times faster than the rest of the population. (U.S. Latino GDP Report, 2020 & (SLEI) State of Latino Entrepreneurship, 2020). In addition, 19 million Hispanics are reported to be essential workers (Center for American Progress 2021).
We are the driving force of the economy: Hispanic GDP is $2.6 trillion. If it were a standalone economy, it would be the 8th largest in the world and among the world’s 10 largest GDPs, Latino GDP was the single fastest-growing. Hispanics represent $1.7 trillion in purchasing power (Latino Donor Collaborative 2020).
We are the entertainment and music: Latinos are key influencers in music, social media and sports and culture. Latin music is one of the top five consumed music album genres in the U.S., surpassing country music since 2018. Hispanics are defining a new mainstream, with talents like J Balvin, Bad Bunny, Ozuna, Rosalia and Mon Laferte (BuzzAngle & NBCNews).
We are providing security and exporting peace: Hispanic American soldiers and veterans have bravely fought in every war for freedom and democracy since the birth of this great nation.
We are the political game-changers: Hispanics are considered the second-largest voting bloc in the country. No presidential candidate can win an election without the Latino vote (latinocf.org). Although much of our history has been ignored, the fact remains that Hispanics have been an invaluable part of the creation and growth of the United States of America.
Hispanics are America and America is Hispanic!