Hispanic Heritage Month: What PIHers Are Reading, Watching & Listening To

Books, movies, songs recommended by PIH staff

Posted on Oct 7, 2021

Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15, is a time to celebrate the rich histories, cultures, and contributions of Hispanic, Latinx, and Afrolatinx communities. This time period, which includes the independence days of at least seven nations in Latin America, is a national heritage month in the United States.

As PIH celebrates this month, we recognize the outstanding work of our colleagues at Compañeros En Salud in Mexico and Socios En Salud in Peru and all of our colleagues of Latinx, Hispanic, and Afrolatinx descent, as we continue our work in the United States in communities with significant Hispanic populations such as Immokalee, Fla., Pima County, Ariz., and Chicago, Ill.

In honor of this special month, PIHers have shared their favorite books, movies, and songs related to Hispanic and Latinx culture. The recommendations below provide a snapshot into the diversity of cultures and experiences that make up Hispanic, Latinx, and Afrolatinx communities in the U.S. and worldwide—and where PIHers are finding inspiration during this month.

"Ritmo, Color y Sabor"

Ritmo, Color y Sabor by Eva Ayllón

Eva Ayllón is a very well-known Peruvian singer who has composed traditional Peruvian music known as musica criolla. Ayllón's music, especially her song “Ritmo, Color y Sabor,” is a celebration of Peruvian culture, and everyone should listen to her at least once in their lives. This song is about the Afro-Peruvian community and illustrates the importance of their African roots and continuing their African traditions in Peruvian society.

—Diego Burga, Executive Assistant to the Chief Policy & Partnership Officer

“Los Zapaticos de Rosa”

Los Zapaticos de Rosa

I recommend the poem “Los Zapaticos de Rosa” written by José Martí, because it was written by a Cuban national poet and is a literary work that is recognized in Latin America and Cuba. As a second-generation Cuban-American, this poem taught me how to read in Spanish as a child. Most importantly, the message of the poem taught me that universal human values like kindness and solidarity for those in need can transcend social classes. 

—Marian Pedreira, Miami PIH Engage Team Coordinator

Living on One Dollar

Living on One Dollar

The documentary Living on One Dollar will open your eyes to what it actually means to live on a dollar a day. The film takes place in Guatemala, where I’m from, and it shows how the people there are able to stretch their earnings in order to afford a meal a day and to keep a roof over their heads. Watching this film will put into perspective all of the opportunities we get here in the U.S.

—Jose Toledo-Vasquez, Social Media Specialist

In the Time of the Butterflies

In The Time of the Butterflies

In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez, is a book about the Mirabal sisters, who were known as resisters during the time of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. The book is historical fiction, but gives a good sense of the type of resistance movement and advocacy that I feel is reflected through many other struggles and stories in Latino culture. 

—Justin Mendoza, U.S. Health Care Advocacy Lead

Becoming Naomi León; Esperanza Rising

Becoming Naomi León and Esperanza Rising

Becoming Naomi León and Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan are children's books, but they're books that I read when I was a little girl and were gifted to me by my tía, my aunt. I remember reading them and they just changed my life. I think it's because I related to them in some sort of way—I empathized with the characters. I was reading about young Mexican girls when I was a young Mexican girl. I had never read that before. So I could relate to some of the experiences that they had, on a really personal level.

—Tiffany Treviño, Learning & Impact Associate

Roma; Radio Ambulante

Roma and Radio Ambulante

In Roma, a film directed by Alfonso Cuarón and released in 2018, the black and white images reflect the mastery and humanity of the characters and the historical backdrop the film is set in. The classist and racist hierarchy pervasive in Latin America is undeniable, and this film does not shy away from that fact—but it also shows how Cleo, the main character of Roma, transcends her official role as the family’s housekeeper because it is clear that she is an integral part of the family and truly loves them. Cleo represents, for me, the nannies, the cooks, the gardeners, etc. that worked in my grandmother’s house in Venezuela—and how their love and presence made my grandma’s home complete.

Radio Ambulante, which translates to “Traveling Radio,” is a podcast in Spanish that presents a collection of unique stories from across Latin America, told in first-person by their protagonists in the style of narrative journalism. Daniel Alarcon, the host, introduces each piece and hands it off to local journalists and the people that come from the community to tell the stories in their own way. For an hour, you might get lost in present-day San José, Costa Rica or Chile in the 1970s, or elsewhere. This journalism tells the stories you might not hear otherwise and that make up the social fabric of Latin America today.

—Mariel Alvarado, Graphic Designer

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