With the September 15, 2021 kickoff of Hispanic Heritage Month, OceanBased Perpetual Energy is paying respect to the richness of America’s Latin communities, but especially to Hispanic influence in American culture and history.
Websites like www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov illustrate the significant contributions Hispanics and Hispanic-Americans have made to our nation, with packed schedules of free, educational and entertaining events from the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which join this month in paying tribute to the generations of Hispanic-Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society.
More specifically, we know that Latins have a special connection with our ocean. In its introduction to a special report entitled “Latino Connections to the Oceans and Coasts,” by Cirse Gonzalez, the Hispanic Access Foundation explained in 2020:
“We know that the U.S. Latino connection to the ocean and coast is strong, historical and intimate. From indigenous settlement to the present day, the ocean has given and taken away, alternately providing food and flood, salary and storm. While vulnerable to nature and vulnerable to the man-made issues carried in its currents and waves, we know that Latinos value our ocean and coasts, and the resources they foster; and we know that Latinos are becoming increasingly concerned with the environment. Moreover, we know that Latinos acknowledge the myriad of reasons to steward our seas; a sentiment that is recognized as fervently in the headwaters as in the tidewaters.”
The report, which was created to combat these threats to the oceans future using the inherent social capital in Latin communities, continued:
“We know that water, like language, binds Latinos nationwide – connecting inland communities to the shore, physically within watersheds; professionally, as with occupations like agriculture; and tangibly, through recreation and tourism.
“We know that there are existing initiatives dedicated to exploring and fostering the Latino connection to the outdoors and natural resources, including those addressing broad environmental issues like climate change. We also know that there are organizations connecting underrepresented populations, namely coastal youth, to the ocean through science-based education initiatives.
And yet, while Latinos remain a consideration in these efforts, there exist very few endeavors, studies, programs or otherwise, that focus on understanding the Latino-specific connection to the ocean and coast, and/or implement this understanding in their approaches. In the same vein, these initiatives focus on limited sectors of the population, ignoring opportunities to connect with Latinos in industries like service and defense, which are closely linked to the resource – and where a significant portion of Latinos are employed.
“Integrating a nuanced relationship between Latinos and their waters is paramount to successful Latino outreach efforts and first requires addressing significant gaps in our understanding. With this understanding, we can more effectively, for instance, combat barriers to access and address disempowering perceptions, as well as assess our approaches in engaging this target audience in planning processes. While the Latino population continues to grow along the coast, proportionately, their numbers aren’t reflected in studies on coastal access; and it’s not for lack of desire. Understanding their relationship to the coast can help us explain why.
“Notably, we don’t know what untapped potential lies in Latino stewardship, political engagement and/or exploration of our seas; we have barely begun to integrate and analyze Latino voices and perspective.
But we’re learning. And we’re recognizing that we have to do it together.”
To read this extensive report, issued on June 11, 20202 in both English and Spanish, click here.