Ortiz: Acknowledge Latinx contributions to America

Kenia Ortiz

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

The Latinx/Hispanic community makes up 17.8 percent of America’s population making it the nation’s largest racial minority group. As Latinx/hispanic heritage month comes to a close its important to recognize the contributions Latinx individuals have to American society.

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The Latinx population, culture and influence is highly prevalent in American society and so should the recognition of its contributions.

The main, and seemingly only known Latinx influencer in America is Cesar Chavez and his fight for rights of farmworkers across the United States.

Aside from Cesar Chavez, hardly any other Latinx influencers are recognized even though many have made great contributions to today’s society.

Guillermo González Camarena, a Mexican electrical engineer, was the inventor of the first color TV screen and his invention was used by NASA in the space mission of 1979 to take pictures and videos of Jupiter.

To this day television remains as one of the highest forms of entertainment and use for education. They are used in schools, homes, hospitals and film productions. If it were not for Camerena, we would not enjoy the luxury of watching movies on a colored screen. 

Luis Ernesto Miramontes Cárdenas, a Mexican chemist was the inventor of oral contraceptives.

Cárdenas synthesized the hormone norethisterone in order to make oral birth control effective. In 1956, Cárdenas and two senior chemists were granted a U.S. patent for oral contraceptives.

Nicaraguan-inventor Fernando Torres is to thank for the invention of the SIM card. The SIM card is used to store cellular data such as: location, phone number, contact lists and text messages.

Even during the time that Latinx contributions were helping improve American society, American society pushed members of the Latinx community to the side. 

During the 1940s Mexicans were sent to segregated schools. According to Fransisco Macías, a senior legal information analyst, Mexicans were seen as inferior in personal hygiene, ability and their economic outlook.  

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This led to Méndez v. Westminster, a case that challenged racial segregation in schools in Orange County, California in 1947. Méndez v. Westminister helped jump-start the dismantling of the separate but equal doctrine before Brown v. Board of Education.

America correlates patriotism with involvement in the military yet Latinx are not considered true Americans despite them playing a big part of the military.

Twenty thousand Latinos fought in the Civil War, one of the most widely known American wars, and yet their participation goes unnoticed.

While America was fighting in World War II, Mexico provided their air force to help America fight the Japanese during the Battle of Luzon in the Philippines. 

More than 500,000 Mexican Americans fought in World War II but it was not until the Korean War that Puerto Ricans were allowed to fight among other Americans when the US was lacking man-power and turned to Puerto Rico for support.

In 2015, according to the Pew Research CenterHispanic individuals made up 12 percent of all active duty personnel.

America should be willing to recognize and teach about Latinx contributions in American society for more than its food and music.

This is especially important when the current president of the United States wants to build walls not only against Mexico, but also Cuba, Puerto Rico and Central America leading American society to look down on the Latinx community.

There is no way to encompass all of Latinx contributions to America in one column whether that is scientific, through military involvement or social justice.

These chemists, soldiers and social justice activist should not go unrecognized and should be celebrated because they helped advance science, entertainment and equal rights in an attempt to make a difference to improve American society.

Kenia Ortiz can be reached at letters@collegain.com or online at @Kenia_Ortiz_