Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) is celebrated annually from September 15 to October 15. It is a time to appreciate the history, heritage, and contributions of people whose ancestors came from Spain and Mexico and parts of the Caribbean and Central and South America.
As an immigrant from the Caribbean, this month is important to me because it helps raise awareness of the multitude of Hispanic and Latino/a/x cultures and identities that exist in our country. While many of us have a shared history, countless paths have led us to what we are today—a mosaic of traditions, food, music, language, skin color, eye color, hair color, and hair type.
To share a personal example of this, my wife Lauren and I met in New York City while working at an education nonprofit. When we met in person for the first time, I labeled her a nice white girl from Arizona. I (erroneously) made assumptions about her because of the way she looked. As our friendship grew and we got to know each other better, I learned that she speaks Spanish fluently (and better than me!), that she was born in Puerto Rico to a Dominican mother and Irish-American father, and that she loves to dance. While Lauren doesn’t look Latina and didn’t grow up in a Latino community, she is very proud of her Dominican heritage—one of the many reasons I fell in love with her. Today, we are happily married and have three magnificent daughters—Aurelia (6), Salomé (3), and Lucero (5 months)—who we love educating about their Dominican heritage. We speak Spanish at home, dance merengue, bachata, and salsa almost every day, eat Dominican food when we can, and regularly read books in Spanish.
This year’s HHM theme, Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation, resonates with me because it aligns with our United Together value. When we learn to respect and appreciate each other’s uniqueness, we grow stronger relationships, work better, and accomplish more.
Every year, I learn something new about Hispanic Heritage and about myself. I am looking forward to continuing to explore my history and encourage you to do your own exploration this month.
Juan – Director, HR & DEI