The 30-day span between September 15th and October 15th marks Latinx Heritage Month (otherwise known as Hispanic Heritage Month, but we'll let your critical minds dissect why we prefer the “Latinx” nomenclature.)
In celebration of the complex richness and strength of Latinx culture, we curated a potent list of books, films, music, and social media pages to engage your mind and soul.
R E A D
The Poet X
“And isn't that what a poem is? A lantern glowing in the dark.”
Winner of several awards including the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, Elizabeth Acevedo’s debut novel The Poet X tells the story of 15-year old Harlem native Xiomara, who through the powerful medium of slam poetry finds her voice and comes to terms with her familial and community relationships, and ultimately, with herself.
For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts: A Love Letter to Women of Color
“Remember who you are, and the rest will come.”
In this brilliant work of nonfiction, Latina Rebels founder Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez offers candid, timeless wisdom and a path forward for all women of color and the systematically-in-place challenges they face, from dealing with colonialist world views to experiencing imposter syndrome. Beautifully written, this book will see you, inspire you, grab your heart and not let go.
The Black Flower and Other Zapotec Poems
"I write in Zapotec to ignore the syntax of pain, ask the sky and its fire to give me back my happiness."
This award-winning translation lets us step into modern-day Zapotec life through the eyes of poet Natalia Toledo, whose work has helped to revive interest in indigenous culture and the Zapotec language in Mexico. Toledo has won the Premio Nezahualcóyotl de Literatura, Mexico’s most revered prize for indigenous literature. Her writing focuses on the relationship between women and their environment, and her words dance across the page with luscious candor and true connection with the sacred feminine.
The Soul of a Woman
“We have to consider violence against women for what it really is: the greatest crisis that faces humanity.”
Perhaps the most personal work of New York Times bestselling author Isabel Allende, her memoir The Soul of a Woman is a revelatory exploration of her path on the feminist movement, past and present. It is full of intelligent and relatable insight, diving into varied yet interconnected topics like the power of community, the reverberating effect of embracing and owning her sexuality, and what the movement means today.
W A T C H
I'm No Longer Here (Ya No Estoy Aqui)
This gorgeous film from Mexico City native writer/director Fernando Frias tells the story of Ulises, the 17-year-old leader of a Northern Mexican “gang” (in quotation marks here because it’s not the typical kind of gang you are probably thinking of) who, after a misunderstanding with a local cartel, is forced to flee to the United States and leave behind everything he knows and loves. I won’t say a lot more about it, other than you’re likely to never forget this one. It’s a must-see.
An intimate portrait of Costa Rican-born Mexican queer singer Chavela Vargas, Chavela tells her story via raw footage and interviews. Vargas pioneered the singing of cantos rancheros - Mexican folk songs- by a woman, as these were traditionally sung only by men before her time. It tells the struggle of living as a closeted queer woman most of her life (she came out when she was 81), and of her extraordinary life as both an artist and a muse.
Day of the Dead: A Celebration of Life
The annual Dia de los Muertos celebration in Mexico honors the dead by celebrating the lives they once led. This excellent documentary will take you on a virtual journey into this magical, mystical tradition.
In Times of Rain ( Tiempo de Lluvia)
Directed by Oaxaca native of Zapotec lineage Itandehui Jansen, In Times of Rain unfolds the story of Soledad, an indigenous matriarch and healer, and her relationship with her grandson and her estranged daughter. With beautifully juxtaposed heartbreak and joy, it illustrates the stark contrast between rural and city life in Mexico, modern and ancient culture, and the ties that bind us beyond time and space.
L I S T E N
A Oaxaca native of Mixtec heritage, Lila Downs has a rich and soulful voice that is uniquely hers , singing in English, Spanish, Mixtec, and Zapotec. Three-time Grammy award winner, her songs tell stories of love, injustice, activism, and indigenous life, blending different styles across genres. Her live performances are transcending, not easily forgotten.
Another Grammy-award winning artist, singer-songwriter Carla Morrison is a deeply honest and emotional storyteller. Her songs mesmerize with tales of heartbreak and loss, rebirth and self-awareness. In recent years, she has courageously shared with the world and her fans her struggles with mental health, and is an outspoken advocate for mindfulness as a path to peace of mind.
Whether you watch first the documentary listed earlier in this article, or dive straight into checking out her songs, you will not be the same after listening to Chavela Vargas. Unapologetically raw, her voice palpably comes from the depths of her, from the core of the earth beneath her, and takes you there, hanging on to every note.
NPR once called Natalia Lafourcade “The 21st Century's Guardian Of Cultural Memory,” a commentary on her deeply rooted approach to music and her craft. Her voice transcends time, and her lyrics and musical arrangements have a lovely way of covering the entire spectrum of light and dark at once. And yes, the Grammy’s took notice of her, too - with a whopping eleven awards to date.
F O L L O W
Kim Guerra / @brownbadassbonita
Kim Guerra is a queer activist, writer, entrepreneur, and complete powerhouse of a woman. She has created a thriving community as an extension of her dynamic brand Brown Badass Bonita, and via her consistent message of empowerment through self-love, radical inclusion, community, and the fight for social and racial justice. Her no-holds barred diction and candor is refreshing, inspiring, and oh-so-badass.
Gloria Lucas / @nalgonapositivitypride
Rooted in Xicana indigenous feminism, Gloria Lucas is the founder of Nalgona Positivity Pride, self-described as “an in-community eating disorders and body-positive organization dedicated in creating visibility and resources for Black, Indigenous, communities of color (BICC)," (YES, GIRL!) Lucas has been featured on NPR, Teen Vogue, and Huff Post, among others.
Sara Mora / @misssaramora
We are super inspired by Sara Mora, a DACA recipient in her mid-twenties who has been an immigrant-rights activist since her teens. She explores topics like the intersectionality of climate and migrant justice, self-love, and the decolonization of immigrant rhetoric. Her blend of motivational inspiration on self-love combined with effective activism is so resonant and we are HERE for it.
Latinx Heritage Month: September 15th- October 15th
We hope you've enjoyed this curation of Latinx books, films, music, and activists. Please share your own recommendations in the comments below.
Happy Latinx Heritage Month!