September 15 marked the start of Hispanic Heritage Month – a time for all of us to observe the rich history and culture of Hispanic Americans. Considering the Hispanic population in the U.S. represents the country’s second largest ethnic group, it makes sense we should honor the traditions and celebrations of our neighbors, colleagues and friends that contribute so much to our current American landscape.
Myrna Savage, standards review consultant for BBB Northwest & Pacific, moved to the United States from Guadalajara, Mexico, when she very young. For her family, Hispanic Heritage Month has always been a time to celebrate their independence.
“We lost some of our traditions when we moved to the U.S. but have gained some new ones,” Savage said. “We make a big meal and celebrate with family on September 15th, and watch the Mexican President talk about our heroes.”
Savage says her family spends the rest of the month attending festivals and community events.
As of 2019, the U.S. Hispanic population reached a high of 60 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. White Americans tend to celebrate Spanish heritage most prominently at Cinco de Mayo. But this holiday, while also incredibly important, commemorates a specific event: the date of the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla.
Instead, Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate a variety of countries and traditions. It’s a truly inclusive month. The term Hispanic refers to a person who is from, or a descendant of someone who is from, a Spanish-speaking country. In this context, the U.S. Census emphasizes that people who identify as Hispanic, Latino of Spanish may be any race. This means, Hispanic Heritage Month reveres citizens from Spain, Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean.
For additional clarity and education, we should also point out that the terms Latino, Latina or Latinx refer to a geographical origin (someone who is a descendant of someone from a country in Latin America). But again, Latino does not refer to race.
Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific (BBB NW+P) values diversity and encourages inclusivity. This holds true across different races, heritages, beliefs, sexes and sexual orientations. The organization also is dedicated to creating an unbiased workspace (read our commitment to action against social injustices).
Savage says she felt welcome at BB NW+P from her first interview.
“I have never seen an organization that compares to what I have experienced at BBB,” Savage said. “I have felt right at home and have felt accepted and understood. The culture of acceptance is stood by and lived by every day.”
Because of this ingrained culture at BBB, we proudly highlight Hispanic Heritage Month and invite others to celebrate with us. The official Hispanic Heritage Month government website details a large variety of performances, exhibitions and events taking place through October 15. Typically, many of these activities would be in person, but due to COVID-19, festivities will largely take place online.
Another great way to honor Hispanic traditions is simply to learn about them – check out different documentary series on Netflix about Spanish culture or pick up a book from a Latino author to learn more history. Actress Eva Longoria is even offering an online cooking class in honor of her heritage.
Finally, BBB encourages you to support your local Hispanic business owners. If you know of local cafes, restaurants or other services in your neighborhood that are minority-owned, try to use them this month. Shout them out on social media and enhance their visibility.
Making the U.S. an equitable place begins with each one of us embracing different ethnicities and cultures. Why not start now?