For some of us, mid-September symbolizes the beginning of midterm season. For many others, it symbolizes the beginning of a very important month: Hispanic Heritage Month. In California, Hispanic culture is everywhere from the food to the music, and it’s especially important this month to take some time to appreciate it (although we should every day, as we should with every culture). Although this appreciation can take different forms, many may not know where to begin, so I have compiled a list of Hispanic artists and activists to start Hispanic Heritage Month off right. Enjoy!
From bachata to reggaeton, Hispanic music is beautiful and always makes you want to dance, even if it’s in the smallest of ways. So, here are a few artists to listen to this month, some of whom you may already know.
Bad Bunny has been making headlines for a number of years now, and with more recently released music, the Puerto Rican artist is nowhere near finished. He is known for features on Cardi B’s “I Like It,” and Drake’s “Mia.” However, I would advise listening to some of his other songs such as “Yonaguni” or “La Canción” with J Balvin. Truth be told, you can’t go wrong with any of his songs.
Selena is a household name that reaches far beyond Hispanic households. Whether you know her from J-Lo’s covers of Selena songs, or from the iconic song “Como La Flor,” Selena is a household name, and she deserves it. I would advise listening to both Bad Bunny and Selena every day if possible, but for now, try taking a listen to “Fotos y Recuerdos.”
The late singer Jenny Rivera is known for songs incorporating styles of banda, mariachi and norteño, all of which I highly advise listening to. Although all of her songs and albums are outstanding — Rivera has 15 gold, 15 platinum and 5 double-platinum records — I recommend starting with “La Gran Señora.”
Although Hispanic music is excellent, I also recommend some authors if you are more of a reader.
Sandra Cisneros is a Mexican-American author who writes beautiful narratives and stories exploring the working class and the reality of Mexican-Americans, especially women, in the United States. Although all of her books, poems and short stories are beautiful, I highly recommend starting with her first novel, “The House on Mango Street.”
Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel García Márquez is a Colombian novelist, screenwriter and journalist. Aside from his beautiful and lyrical writing style, Márquez is known for the magical realism and fantasy he explores in his books. Although you can’t go wrong with any of his books, I highly recommend his most iconic novel to start, “One Hundred Years of Solitude.“
Jorge Luis Borges
Traveling south to Argentina, Jorge Luis Borges is an Argentine short-story writer and essayist and is known as one of the “giants in 20th-century literature.” Although he is known for multiple works in international literature and nonfiction, he is also credited with experimenting in fantasy and fictional worlds, paving the way for the science-fiction and fantasy genres we love today. “The Book of Sand” and “Universal History of Infamy” are some of his most famous works.
Artists and Activists
Dolores Huerta is an American labor leader and civil rights activist. Born in New Mexico, Huerta faced racial and economic prejudices growing up as a Chicana woman. After going to college and becoming a teacher, Huerta witnessed how hungry farm children came to school and she soon became an activist, ultimately co-starting the United Farm Workers Association.
Jean-Michel Basquiat was an Afro-Latine graffiti artist who rose to fame in the early 1980s. A prominent actor in the neo-expressionist movement, Basquiat used colors and shapes to depict class struggle, attack power structures and show the reality of racism in America being an Afro-Latine man. He was the youngest artist to be shown at the Whitney Biennial in New York at 22, and his work is still legendary today.
Previously known for her work on “Ugly Betty,” America Ferrera is a writer, actor, producer and director (essentially, she does it all). She is a woman of many talents, and has developed quite a platform that she uses to speak out about her life between two cultures, Mexican and American, as well as speak on prominent issues plaguing the Hispanic community. I highly advise listening to her TED talk; it is one of the best.
It is important to acknowledge that this is only a beginner’s list and Hispanic culture includes so many different countries and cultures that you can and should explore. The Hispanic community and culture are filled with so many different kinds of people that are beautiful and talented in their own ways from their own countries — there are so many other people that deserve to be on this list and so many more countries that deserve to be mentioned. This is just to get started, so I hope you enjoyed it. Bienvenidas!