San Francisco Public Library is thrilled to announce ¡VIVA! at the Library—an annual celebration of Latinx heritage, cultures and traditions. San Francisco has a rich Latinx heritage that is highlighted in a diverse array of exciting programs for all ages, from Spanish/bilingual storytimes to cooking classes, author talks to art and cultural presentations. Come celebrate with us. ¡Bienvenidos!
Our September/October On the Same Page book club pick is Karla Cornejo Villavicencio’s The Undocumented Americans, a work of literary essays that draws from the author’s own experience as a former, undocumented immigrant from Ecuador to tell the intimate stories of undocumented people living and working across the U.S. today. Find out more information about On the Same Page and our author event with Karla Cornejo Villavicencio.
For years, this highly anticipated annual celebration has been known as “¡VIVA! Latino Hispanic Heritage Month.” After such a transformational and tumultuous time, we felt it was time to revisit this title and ask ourselves what it stands for in our community.
We held discussions with a cohort of Library workers who identify as Latina/o/x to unpack the meaning and the origins of the words “Hispanic” and “Latino”. The term “Hispanic” was introduced to the mainstream in the 1970s as part of a movement that urged the federal government to collect data on U.S. residents with ties to Spanish-speaking countries, and it first appeared on the Census in 1980. “Latino” came into prominence in the 1990s through community activism, which repudiated the term Hispanic because of its connection with Spain’s colonization of Indigenous Peoples. In San Francisco, this activism was concentrated in the Mission District. “Latino” appeared in government publications starting in 1997 and on the Census, along with “Hispanic,” in 2000. Today, “Latino” is most commonly used to signify identification with this group in San Francisco, as evidenced by the names of prominent local organizations that serve this community.
After our deliberations, the Library has decided to drop “Hispanic” and embrace “¡VIVA!: Latinx Heritage Month” as the moniker for our annual celebration. We chose Latinx because San Francisco has always helped move the country forward on social issues, especially when it comes to inclusion of other identities, and Latinx is a term that resonates with our local community.
We are striving for change and there is an open conversation happening. At the Library, everyone is welcome to bring their own identities, interpretations and experiences to the conversation in order to participate fully in our programs and events. Thank you for reading, and we hope you enjoy this year’s celebration.
"Though we tremble before uncertain futures may we meet illness, death and adversity with strength, may we dance in the face of our fears." – Gloria E. Anzaldúa