By Katie Stanton
Social Media & Online Engagement Manager, YWCA USA
Beginning on September 15, National Hispanic American Heritage Month is a celebration of Hispanic and Latino culture and history. This week’s Top Five on Friday marks the theme for this year: “Hispanics: Serving and Leading Our Nation with Pride and Honor.”
1. Nine undocumented immigrants made bold steps in the name of keeping their families together, openly leaving the U.S. and returning through a legal entry point in Mexico. They hope to inspire other DREAM-ers to continue the fight for immigration reform.
Immigration Reform 2013: Will These Young People Do What Congress Can’t?, by Sara Sollors, PolicyMic
“Nine undocumented Mexican immigrants, some of whom were living in the United States at the time, attempted to cross the border into the country in Arizona, dressed in graduation caps and gowns. The protest was streamed live. Each of the original participants posted video messages before beginning the march and a hashtag, #BringThemHome, was created for the initiative. Upon arriving at the check-point, they requested humanitarian parole, or, failing that, asylum, claiming fear of persecution in Mexico. After 17 days of detention at Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, on August 9, the Department of Homeland Security announced that asylum was tentatively granted to all nine. Their journey is far from over, however: An immigration judge will ultimately determine whether they have the right to remain in the United States, and the ruling might not arrive for years.”
2. Jakiyah McKoy, age 7, was stripped of her title as Little Miss Hispanic Delaware and her family asked to show proof of her Latino heritage – because of her skin color. Icess Fernandez Rojas writes to her in a beautiful letter about celebrating her identity.
An Open Letter to Jakiyah McKoy and the Little Black Latinas, by Icess Fernandez Rojas, Huffington Post
“At this point you may think that this color is a burden. Not at all. This is a gift, your super power, your secret weapon. Because you will know what it’s like to be different and discriminated against, you will be able to recognize it when it happens to someone else. You’ll be able to lift them up as I am doing with you. And then they will pay it back with someone else and so on and so on. This super power means you have the potential to stop this ugliness just by being you. If that is not a gift, I don’t know what is.”
3. Finding your identity when you’re caught between two cultures can be a challenge no matter where you’re from or how old you are.
Hispanic Heritage Month: Connecting Our Children to Their Roots, by Mari Hernandez-Tuten, Babble
“As a first generation Hispanic growing up in the United States, I was confronted with the challenge of not only understanding American culture, but also helping my parents juggle both worlds and find their place in the U.S. They didn’t expect me to, but it was my duty as their bilingual child.”
4. Congratulations to Ana Maria Rey, a Latina atomic physicist who’s an inspiration to girls interested in science and math!
Latina physicist chosen for MacArthur Foundation “genius” award, by Monica Suarez, NBCLatino
“‘Since I was very young, I loved the possibility of describing with math the behavior of the world,’ she said. ‘I could describe how a ball was going to fall by writing an equation and that fascinated me. I wanted to learn if I can describe how a ball behaves, I should be able to describe how more complicated things behave.'”
5. Finally, we had to share this story of a young boy who knew what he wanted to accomplish and, with the support of his family and years of hard work, made it.
Hispanic Heritage Month: Jose Hernandez, From Field Worker to NASA Astronaut, Brad Newman, Fox News Latino
“‘It took me 12 tries to become an astronaut,’ Hernandez said. ‘You think I’m gonna quit my first time as a congressman? I don’t think that’s in my nature.’
Belief is a big thing in Hernandez’s life. It has carried him to this point, and it’s something he hopes to pass on to his children.
‘Folks should not be afraid to dream for something big,’ Hernandez said. ‘Don’t ever give up on yourself.'”
If you have a story that needs to be shared, let us know! Leave a link in the comments or send us a Tweet at @YWCAUSA.