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Fronteras: After El Paso, Hispanic Heritage Month Takes On A Greater Meaning

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Norma Martinez | Texas Public Radio
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Photo from the makeshift memorial behind the Cielo Vista Walmart in El Paso.

Hispanic Heritage Month comes a little over a month after an act of violence targeting Mexicans and Mexican Americans claimed 22 lives in El Paso. Activists want communities across Texas and the U.S. to have more profound observations to elevate Hispanic history and culture.

Tony Diaz, a Houston-based writer, says the rich culture should not be recognized and appreciated for just 30 days, but all year long.

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Credit Pablo Rocha
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Tony Diaz, Houston-based writer and founder & director of Nuestra Palabra, Latino Writers Having Their Say.

Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, and this year’s celebration occurs soon after the Aug. 3 mass shooting in the West Texas border city. Americans are now more aware of the history of violence against Mexicans and Mexican-Americans since the 19th century, and some activists are calling for a different approach to this year’s holiday.

Diaz, founder & director of Nuestra Palabra, Latino Writers Having Their Say, proudly calls himself a “librotraficante,” a trafficker of books. In 2012, Arizona enforced a ban on Mexican American studies in state schools, which included a long list of books by Latino writers including Sandra Cisneros, Sergio Troncoso and Rudolfo Anaya. Nuestra Palabra organized caravans to “smuggle” books to Arizona students, and Diaz said the now-overturned ban should be one of the key highlights of Hispanic Heritage Month commemorations.

He believed the distribution of art, literature and culture can eliminate racist stereotypes. He said the Latino community must not retreat in fear, as many feel they are targeted following the racially-motivated attack. He said they must fully embrace Hispanic Heritage Month and proclaim the culture and art throughout the year.

Tony Diaz posts weekly Community Cultural Capital updates every Tuesday at 2 p.m. (CST) on his blog, “The Cultural Accelerator” on tonydiaz.net.

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Activist Tony Diaz explains how we can get involved in Hispanic Heritage Month.

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter @NormDog1 and Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter @terrazas_lauren.

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren