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Opinion: During National Hispanic Heritage Month, support brown businesses, fill out your census and register to vote.

COURTESY PHOTO: MARITZA OROPEZA - Maritza Oropeza of Latino Outdoors says this is the time of year to celebrate Hispanic heritage.
Fifty-two years have passed since we began celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States. Hispanics play a vital role in our society that is sometimes forgotten, overlooked or ignored. Whether you identify as Hispanic, Latino, Chicano or Latinx, know that this is your month to celebrate the people who paved the way.COURTESY PHOTO: MARITZA OROPEZA - MARITZA OROPEZA

I come from a family of migrant workers, housekeepers, cooks and factory workers. The jobs you say to yourself "I'm glad that's not me." As a fourth-generation Chicana, I can't comprehend the struggle of leaving my homeland in search of a better life. My great grandparents, Ama and Apa, were migrant workers who worked everywhere from Minnesota to Arizona and picked everything from strawberries to cotton. Eventually, settling in Oceano, California. This drive to sacrifice comfort and security in favor of working for a better future is shared by all our brothers and sisters. We must recognize this in ourselves and continue the push for a better future whether or not we'll live to see it.

Amidst a global pandemic, the nation's most marginalized populations are being asked to work. Farmworkers already face one of the most dangerous jobs in the nation, with heat exhaustion, pesticide exposure and the threat of wildfires. Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta paved the way with their commitment to non-violence and spirituality that changed a nation with the United Farm Workers of America. It's up to our generation to continue their legacy and fight for our ancestor's rights. Farmworkers deserve this prestigious recognition along with respect and appreciation for feeding us every day.

Support brown businesses, fill out your census and register to vote. Yo Cuento!

Maritza Oropeza, Latino Outdoors Portland, Oregon

Editor's note: National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 this year.


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