The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center community will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a variety of events and discussions over the next four weeks.
The 30-day observance, which spans Sept. 15 (Thursday) to Oct. 15, recognizes and celebrates the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, histories and important contributions of Hispanic individuals.
The HSC Office for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) is organizing events – some in person and some online – to honor Hispanic culture through mid-October, says John Paul Sánchez, MD, executive associate vice chancellor for DEI. For more information on the events and registering for presentations, check out the Hispanic Heritage Month webpage.
“Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to honor, acknowledge and celebrate the journey of those individuals who consider themselves Latina, Latino, Latinx, Latine, Hispanic or of Spanish origin across the United States,” Sánchez said.
Hispanic Heritage Month marks the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Two other countries, Mexico and Chile, celebrate their independence on Sept. 16 and 18, respectively.
The month shouldn’t be the only time we do this – we should be doing this every day, but it does give us a moment to pause and make special mention of Hispanic heritage
— John Paul Sánchez, Executive Associate Vice Chancellor for DEI
“The month shouldn’t be the only time we do this – we should be doing this every day,” Sánchez said. “But it does give us a moment to pause and make special mention of Hispanic heritage.”
To kick off Hispanic Heritage Month events, Mariachi Tenampa will perform a concert on the Barbara and Bill Richardson Pavilion Plaza Thursday, Sept. 15, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served by the DEI team as well.
Then, on Monday, Oct. 3, learners, faculty and staff are invited for a night of Lotería (Bingo). The hybrid event led by students from the School of Medicine Latino Medical Student Association will be held via Zoom from 6 to 7 p.m. and in person at Domenici Center North Wing, Room 2706, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Another event, called “Taking Care of the Next Generation of Latina/o Adolescents,” will discuss social structures and factors that influence the health and well-being of Hispanic- and Latino-identified adolescents. That event will be via Zoom Tuesday, Oct. 4, from noon to 1 p.m. That event will be facilitated by Veronica Plaza, MD, MPH, an assistant professor in the UNM College of Population Health and the School of Medicine.
Valerie Romero-Leggott, MD, vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – together with Eric R. Molina, MD, PhD, a physician from Massachusetts General Hospital, and Victor H. Rodriguez, MD, MPH, a physician from the Tulane University School of Medicine – will be on a panel of guest speakers for a discussion called “History of LHS+ Identified Physician Presence, Activism and Leadership in the Southwest Region.” The Zoom event will be Thursday, Oct. 6, from 6-7 p.m.
Another presentation – “Curanderismo: Traditional Medicine Approaches in the Hispanic World for Times of Stress and Anxiety” – will discuss the current interest in combining traditional medicine with modern allopathic medicine, as has been done in Mexico and other cultures.
That event will be Wednesday, Oct. 12, from noon to 1 p.m. via Zoom, and is sponsored by UNM Hospital in collaboration with the HSC Office for DEI. Interested participants can register via Zoom here.
An online form for all other event registrations can be found here.
Sánchez said that Hispanic Heritage Month also provides an opportunity to educate new terminology surrounding the community, including LHS+ (Latina/o/x/e, Hispanic, or of Spanish Origin+).
The acronym LHS+, comparable to LGBTQ+, reflects the heterogeneity of terms reflective of communities with a common geographic and Spanish language ancestry. It gives recognition to historical terms like Latino, Latina, Hispanic, of Spanish Origin (used on standardized surveys), and emerging generational/non-binary terms (e.g., Latinx), with the plus sign acknowledging other terms linked to national identity (e.g., Mexican, Chicano, Cubano, Honduran, etc.).
“LHS+ is a new umbrella term that moves to unify beyond the term Latinx,” Sánchez said. “There’s a wide diaspora of cultural variation due to where people’s families are from, and we’re trying to bring everyone together.”