Oct 14, 2022 - News

Hispanic Heritage Month: Texas Latinos are not monolithic

Illustration of a light bulb with a filament in the shape of Central and South America.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to an end on Saturday, Latinos in Texas are diversifying their media coverage and organizing events that are inclusive of all countries, rather than lumping Latinos together under the state's heavy Mexican influence.

By the numbers: Hispanic residents may now be the largest population group in Texas, surpassing the white demographic, according to unofficial statistics released in September by the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

  • Latinos account for 40% of the state's total population, while non-Hispanic white people make up 39%, the data shows.

The big picture: That milestone, coupled with Hispanic Heritage Month, is motivating people to highlight the diversity within Latinos.

Nancy Flores, publisher of Austin Vida, says it's "always a work in progress," and "gold star examples" of inclusivity are hard to come by. But she and Lilia Swayne, vice president of Sociedad Cultural Hispanoamericana San Antonio (SCHASA), offer ways communities can create a wider scope of celebration.

  • Buy from small, Latino-owned businesses.
  • Explore cultural festivals throughout Texas.
  • Think about who hasn't been included previously in events.

Between the lines: Mexicans account for 33% of Hispanic Texas residents, but Flores and Swayne represent and celebrate all Latinos through their work.

  • Flores is Mexican American and originally from Eagle Pass. Swayne is of Colombian descent.

What's happening: Austin Vida was launched as a cultural hub for Latinos. Flores says readers are sometimes surprised to see their countries covered by her team.

  • SCHASA organizes events in San Antonio throughout the year to integrate and showcase folkloric dances, gastronomy and art from countries like Peru, Colombia, Panama and more.
  • "It shouldn't be this big shock, no matter what kind of cultural ties you have, to see yourself in a publication. I know what it feels like to not see yourself in the city and I want to help change that," Flores says.

What they're saying: Flores and Swayne are hoping the population growth will encourage the exploration of Latino arts, food and customs outside of the dominant Mexican influence in the state.

  • "We are not a monolithic group, and it's really that diversity within our culture that makes us special," Flores says.
  • "Most people, when they hear someone speaking in Spanish, [they] assume right away that this person is Mexican. In fact, the person speaking Spanish could be originally from one of the 19 different Latin American countries," Swayne says.

Go deeper: Austin Vida's coverage of the sazón Latino artists are bringing to Austin City Limits, from Cuba to Colombia.

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