Lewis Diuguid

Ignore Donald Trump’s scapegoating and celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month for all the right reasons

Members of a ballet folklorico and mariachi band from San Antonio, Texas, carry flags from several Latin American nations during a ceremony celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month before an NFL football game between the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys last month in Arlington, Texas.
Members of a ballet folklorico and mariachi band from San Antonio, Texas, carry flags from several Latin American nations during a ceremony celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month before an NFL football game between the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys last month in Arlington, Texas. The Associated Press

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has turned a lot of the nation’s attention on Latinos — albeit negative.

But Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is actually National Hispanic Heritage Month, and it is filled with positive things about Latinos in the United States. It began as National Hispanic Heritage Week through a proclamation in September 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson.

Congress expanded it into a monthlong celebration in 1989. The Census Bureau notes that it recognizes the culture and traditions of people whose heritage traces back to Spain, Mexico and Spanish-speaking nations in Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Latinos enrich this country and make it stronger.

Sept. 15 begins the celebration because it is the anniversary of the independence of five Latin American nations — Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18.

The census notes that as of July 1, 2015, the U.S. had 56.6 million people of Hispanic origin. They represent the country’s largest ethnic or racial minority, constituting 17.6 percent of the total U.S. population.

Among Latinos, 57.6 percent in 2015 were married couple households with children younger than age 18. There were 16.2 million Hispanic households in the U.S. in 2015.

Hispanics added 1.2 million people to the U.S. population between July 1, 2014, and July 1, 2015. That number is nearly half of about 2.5 million people added to the nation’s total population in that period.

The census notes that 46 percent of Hispanic married couples with children were in homes where both spouses were employed in 2014 compared with 59.7 percent for the nation as a whole.

Of the Hispanics in the U.S., 63.9 percent were of Mexican origin in 2014; 9.5 percent, Puerto Rican; 3.7 percent, Cuban; 3.8 percent, Salvadoran; 3.2 percent, Dominican; and 2.4 percent, Guatemalan. The rest are from other countries in Central America and South America.

Nine states in 2015 in the U.S. had a population of a million or more Latinos. They are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Texas.

The census reports that 39.3 million U.S. residents age 5 and older spoke Spanish at home in 2014. That was a 126.3 percent increase since 1990 when the number was 17.3 million. Put another way, 73.1 percent of Hispanics age 5 and older spoke Spanish at home in 2014.

Latinos are entrepreneurs just like other Americans. In 2012, the U.S. had 3.3 million Hispanic-owned businesses, up from 2.3 million in 2007. Those companies owned by Latinas had an estimated sales/receipts of $78.7 million in 2012, for Latinos reported sales were $359.1 million.

There were 1.2 million Hispanics age 18 and older who were veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

Enjoy National Hispanic Heritage Month.

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