Heritage Is Not Privilege

September 15th  marks the first day of Hispanic Heritage month and the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Florida has chosen to identify Hispanic leadership throughout the state who have contributed to their local community or state government.

I personally acknowledged one of these leaders on my social media page and surprisingly received some pushback from fellow conservatives. With organizations like Black Lives Matter pushing a narrative that America is inherently evil and systemically racist, it is Latin Americans who throw a wrench in the narrative.  If America does have a problem with bigotry as the liberal left would have us believe, then why have so many Latin Americans come to this country and proven successful?

Santiago Avila Jr. is the state chair of the Florida Republican National Hispanic Assembly and shared this thought, “My heritage is not something I personally did to earn. I was born with it. Personally I come from a Cuban and Mexican heritage. The same heritage that molded my character and made me who I am today. Unlike me, people like my grandfather weren’t born with the same rights in his own country of Cuba. Unlike me, my father did not have the same ability to start his own business and fight for economic prosperity in his own country of Mexico. But, what I have learned from both men is that when they came to America they were just as American as anyone else. Both worked very hard and loved this country like it was their own.”

Celebrating a heritage month is not asking for special privileges or government handouts because we are Latin Americans. It helps us to reflect on where our families came from and why it is important to support and defend our rights and freedoms granted by the Constitution.  You can be proud of your country and your heritage without expecting special favors. We celebrate things like St. Patrick’s Day, Octoberfest, Cinco de Mayo, and the San Gennaro Festival in New York every year without the perception that America comes second, and our heritage comes first. For the critics who oppose celebrating the annual event, I would ask why we celebrate the festivals I have mentioned without the same negative connotation that has been bestowed by a certain few upon Hispanic Heritage month?

Our country was founded by immigrants and it is one of the things that makes our country great. Who doesn’t respect a personal story of someone fleeing Cuba to come to America for a better life? To hear that they have achieved the American dream with hard work and determination is surely a story deserving recognition. People find courage, hope, and inspiration through the stories and accomplishments that we share. We should continue to fight and work for their dreams.