Recommended Reading, Films, and Music from IIE’s Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Affinity Group
IIE proudly celebrates National Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month. Dating back to 1968, the U.S. observation publicly commemorates the societal contributions of Hispanic Americans, Latinos, Latinas, and Latinx-identifying people. The dates, September 15 to October 15, were selected to coincide with the independence days of several Latin American countries, including Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.
To celebrate, we asked the members of our Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Affinity Group: What’s on your list of recommended reading and watching on la Cultura? Here are some of their responses:
Senior Program Specialist Cèsar recommends Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, a memoir chronicling a Mexican American student’s intercultural and linguistic journey from knowing less than 100 English words to completing university studies in London. “This introspective work tackles the challenges of assimilation and underscores the intricate interplay between education and cultural identity, prompting readers to contemplate the trade-offs between personal success and heritage preservation,” says Cèsar.
Outreach and Recruitment Specialist Jaclyn recommends her recent summer read, Dominicana by Angie Cruz. It’s a coming-of-age novel that centers on a young woman who moves to New York City from rural life and political upheaval in the 1960s Dominican Republic.
Open Veins of Latin America by late Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano is “required reading” for those seeking to learn about colonialism in Latin America through a critical lens, says Team Lead Rogelio. Student Advisor Pia recommends anything by Chilean writer Isabel Allende: “I love everything she writes.”
From cumbia to EDM and champeta, the international band Bomba Estéreo provides a musical tour of the diverse musical genres of Colombia and beyond. The popular international band from Bogotá has collaborated with a range of performers, including Bad Bunny, Systema Solar, and Will Smith. “Their song Internacionales could… maybe be an IIE theme song?” says Outreach and Recruitment Specialist Jaclyn.
Nicknamed “The Voice of Latin America,” the late Mercedes Sosa was a folk singer from Argentina whose activism and candor drew fans and opponents. Sosa’s lyrics and statements in support of women’s and workers’ rights earned her international fans as well as political rivals; instances of censorship and arrests led her to briefly flee to Madrid and Paris. Her sixty-year career featured international collaborations and honors such as the United Nations’ Unifem Prize and Latin Grammys. One of Student Advisor Pia’s favorite songs? “Todo Cambia.”
Rogelio says, “Being from Panama, I always end up coming back to Rubén Blades. His multi-decade career has seen him evolve across musical genres from salsa to jazz, while always grounding his music in deep storytelling, which I find timeless.” A final musical selection from Rogelio is singer-activist Pablo Vittar: “They are…quite easily one of the most iconic drag performers in Latin America and the world right now.”
Maureen, Communications Officer, “loved watching the 2023 movie Flamin’ Hot, directed by Eva Longoria!” The biopic tells the story of a one-time Frito Lay janitor Richard Montanez, who drew on the flavors of his Mexican American heritage to invent the iconic Flamin’ Hot Cheetos recipe. The snack remains a staple in American pop culture and major source of revenue for the company today.
Communications Manager Laura recommends two films and the Public Art Fund’s exhibition of Mexican visual artist Felipe Baeza’s latest work in New York. Baeza’s work has garnered acclaim for its striking representations of Mesoamerican, religious, and migration themes. The Territory is a National Geographic documentary about—and partially shot by—the Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people of Brasil. The film centers on the group’s quest to protect and preserve their ancestral lands from deforestation in the Amazon.
Narciso Em Férias (Narcissus on Holiday) is a 2020 documentary about the 1968 imprisonment of Bossa Nova musician Caetano Veloso during Brasil’s military dictatorship. Veloso, who was popular among youth at the time, was arrested and detained for 54 days without a trial or clear evidence. The distressing true story sheds new light on Veloso’s case as well as the plight of persecuted artists under repressive regimes and arbitrary laws.
At IIE, we believe that diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA) are critically important to engaging thoughtfully with the world and remain deeply committed to these principles. Formalized three years ago, the Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Affinity Group is comprised of IIE team members in various IIE office locations. The affinity groups are a key part of IIE’s people-driven approach to pursuing and advancing its DEIA Commitment. There are five groups in addition to Hispanic and Latinx Heritage; they are the Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage; Black Heritage; Dis/Ability and Accessibility; LGBTQIA+; and Mental Health and Wellbeing groups.