The beauty of the United States of America, regardless of any flaws that may be perceived, is that we are not a homogenous nation. We are made up of a multitude of cultures and customs. We celebrate those differences by recognizing the contributions, influences and traditions of groups of people that have helped shape the American way of life. From September 15-October 15, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month to recognize the achievements and contributions of Hispanic American champions who have inspired others to achieve success.
Immediately we think of people in the entertainment field, Jennifer Lopez, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ricky Martin to name a few. But what about those whose names are less familiar but even more important to our way of life?
Julia Alvarez is one of the most critically revered Latina writers of our time. Sylvia Rivera is an influential Hispanic American drag queen who is an iconic figure in the gay and transgender rights movement. Ellen Ochoa was the first Hispanic American woman to go to space with a nine-day mission. Her work with NASA led her not only to be an astronaut but the first Hispanic American director of the Johnson Space Center.
I decided to ask others what they thought about Hispanic Heritage Month and here’s what they had to say:
“Though I am not Hispanic, the culture is part of who I am. My home city of Passaic, NJ, was rich with the traditions, food, music and soul of my Hispanic neighbors. I learned the Merengue in the 3rd grade at Carmen Maldonado’s birthday party. Pernil and arroz y gandules were my favorite meal. Celia Cruz and Tito Puente were amazing additions to my musical repertoire.
In these times, especially, celebrating Hispanic Heritage is critical to knowing that many different kinds of people contribute to what America has been, is, and will be. Pause must be taken to learn of and acknowledge the depth of their contributions in all industries.”
Contributed by: Lauren Francies Nance, Meetings Professional
“Recognizing the impact of the Hispanic culture is important in the evolution of diversity, equity and inclusion. As the ED of an Association that advocates for investment in reaching Hispanic consumers, DEI is not only the right thing to do but it makes business sense. It gives companies a competitive advantage through innovation, effectiveness and adaptability.“
Contributed by: Horacio Gavilan, Executive Director of Hispanic Marketing Council
“I think this celebration is a reminder to never forget where we come from. In my case, I was born and raised in Peru. I’m proud of the education, both formal and at home, provided by my parents. One of the reasons I love this industry is the contributions it makes to local economies. In a way it feels that I’m able to make an impact, both in the US and Latin American countries, every time we implement an event.”
Contributed by: Charo Tejada
“This month means so much to my family and me as it serves to educate all Americans about our culture and our valuable contributions to American society. We are a people who work hard and value the importance of education and skills. Within the meetings industry we bring or family traditions of hospitality and service to others. We come from a culture that is rich in love and are taught to provide for others at a very young age, as well as to lift up others when outside negative forces come their way. We are diverse within our own collective culture whether it is in the form of our looks, skin color, cuisine or the arts. We embrace our diversity. I love all customs in this melting pot of American culture, but I am truly very proud to call myself Puerto Rican Hispanic American and I can cook a mean pernil!”
Contributed by: Virginia Quintero Rosell, Meetings Professional
Annette M. Suriani, CMP, CFMP, DES | AMS Meetings Solutions