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Hispanic Heritage Month Is for Everyone
by Aleasa Word, FAACT’s Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
September 15 is the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. Celebrations take place all over the United States to commemorate the amazing achievements of Hispanic Americans. The origin of this celebration can be traced back to 1968, when President Lyndon Johnson recognized Hispanic Heritage Week. This evolved into Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988 under President Ronald Reagan.
With a history dating back over 50 years, why don’t more people commemorate this heritage celebration – or even know it exists. My personal opinion is that we would all fare better if we were interested in celebrating various heritage months. Honoring these celebrations is honoring our willingness to grow, learn, and embrace people as human beings while learning the rich culture they bring to the table.
Picture yourself standing in a room, staring intently at a round piece of wood with four pillars for legs. It wouldn’t be fun to look at, and most of us would not even be interested in the story behind the hunk of wood on top of four legs. What if that table represented humans? Without any differences or uniqueness, how would we show up? When we start to bring all of our talents into play, we begin to see the beauty of the table unfold. Imagine the multitude of people with various cultural influences coming in to contribute to the design of the table. Spanish architecture, French art, African carvings, Native American representations of ancestral traditions, and so on. When the table was finished, it would be like nothing we have ever seen.
What if Americans thought of our country as that table? What if we learned about the influences of Hispanic Americans and weaved their contributions into the fibers of all that we do? What if we truly did the same for others? Conference rooms would look different. Homes would look different. Neighborhoods would look different. At the end of the day, we would all feel like there was something about us that belongs.
So how will you embrace Hispanic Heritage Month – or any other heritage month? Embrace a heritage you may not be familiar with and remain open to learning. We are always better when we choose to grow intentionally. And what better reason than to learn about others – and maybe even something about yourself?