14 Things Latinos Gave To America

    Hispanic Heritage Month is great and all, but Spanish-American and Latino influence goes much deeper than tacos and salsa music. Note: tacos and salsa music are awesome.

    A fun fact to remember for Hispanic Heritage Month: The Spanish arrived in what is now the U.S. well before the pilgrims, and a huge chunk of the country used to be Mexico. What this means (besides the downer, "Our genocidal conquerors arrived before yours!") is that A LOT of American culture comes directly from Spanish-American culture and from Latinos in America. Here are some examples:

    1. Cowboys!

    You heard that right! We think of cowboys as lonesome, taciturn white men — as American as apple pie. But the original cowboys were vaqueros, Mexican ranch hands, which is where Anglo cowboys pretty much got their whole thing.

    2. Place names!

    3. Omg barbecue!

    4. Words. Lots of words.

    5. Instagram — but also Facebook?!

    6. Superheroes!

    Which sounds a bit like:

    7. Country Western music?

    View this video on YouTube

    Yes! So, "Latin" music in the U.S. usually means some flavor of Caribbean (salsa, reggaeton, Miami Sound Machine, whatever). Which is cool, but it's still considered "Latin," i.e., foreign.

    But that All-American country music — especially certain strains from the 1950s — probably wouldn't exist without Mexican rancheras.

    8. Color television what.

    9. Mars exploration!

    10. Oh nothing, just feeding the home front during WWII.

    Here's a popular meme about it:

    11. Historic school desegregation. Really.

    12. The frontier narrative.

    13. The dollar sign

    14. Ricky Martin.