Hey, Flagstaff! It’s me, ya girl who procrastinates and writes her articles in between other things. What’s up?
Well, it is almost the end of September/beginning of October, and I have kept pushing out my article. Why? Well, I have wanted to dedicate this piece to celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month! There are just too many things I want to write about and share with you. As my previous pieces have mentioned, I grew up in a Mexican household. My parents and older siblings came here in the ’70s and they started a new life here. I grew up in a mix of Mexican and American culture. Some of it good, some of it super cringe when you think about it…and it all makes for good material.
Maybe that’s something I can share with you all another day. For this piece, I wanted to highlight some of the many ways that we, as adults, can help the Latinx community in the United States.
Without getting too into it (trust me, I could go on about this), here are a few ways we can show our support during Hispanic Heritage Month, and all year.
- SUPPORT LATINX OWNED BUSINESS
I have noticed that a lot of people are into Mexican artisanal pieces as well as other Latinx food and cultural practices, and art. While there are a plethora of businesses out there, I encourage you all to support Latinx businesses and pay them for their craft/labors/knowledge when it comes to it. If you are on Instagram, check out @shoplatinx and @mujeresmarket. I am sure there are plenty more accounts out there, but these 2 highlight online businesses owned and operated by Latinx all across the globe. If you know of other accounts, please share them with me!
2. FIGHT FOR EQUAL PAY
I know this subject gets a little touchy, but where would we be if we ignored the uncomfortable? It is unfortunate that in this day and age, we are still fighting for everyone to be treated with equal respect not only in society but in the place where we spend most of our lives- work! According to equalpaytoday.org, women in the United States are paid .82 cents to the male dollar, while Latina Women are paid .55 cents to that same dollar. I’m going to also include that Native American women are paid .60 and Black women are paid at .62 to the male dollar. It’s sometimes hard to speak up about these things, but it is important to do so. There are laws (this isn’t legal advice) that can help protect you if you choose to do so.
3. ASK QUESTIONS
I have been pretty open about my life and how it was growing up. There are definitely cultural aspects that some people will not understand, and it is okay to ask questions as long as they are done respectfully. How will we know if we don’t ask, right? Always be mindful of what you’re asking and why you are asking. If you are asking to learn, go ahead. If you are asking to degrade or to prove a point, please take a step back and evaluate WHY you are choosing to be this way. Questions to avoid are usually things like “how do you feel about *insert current political event here*. Things that might be okay to ask: “What are some traditions you and your family have for *insert holiday here*?” Please note that some questions may require big amounts of emotional labor, so if someone is not as open as you’d like them to be, respect it.
4. LEARN TO BE INCLUSIVE
I mean this with the kindest heart…. but not everyone who speaks Spanish and has a brown hue to their skin is Mexican. I can’t count how many times family and friends have been confused for being Mexican because of how they looked. Not only is it a little insensitive to assume, but it also erases and devalues people’s identities. There are 20+ countries in Latin America, and many of those countries have their own beautiful culture, languages, and people. The citizens of these countries range in looks and we are not here to tell them they are not part of the Latinx community simply because they “don’t look or sound like it.” And while we’re on the subject, using Latinx has become the more inclusive way to address us. However, If someone chooses to be addressed differently (ex, Latino/a, Mexican, Salvadorian, Honduran, etc) we respect that. While the term is still controversial within some communities, it is gaining popularity because it breaks the binds of gender normative language, making it gender-neutral. Language is powerful and ever-changing. Many have expressed that using it is a form of rebellion to colonialism language and transforming it to our own desire, and I think that’s beautiful.
I’ve started using the idea of “listen to understand instead of listening to argue”, and it really has helped me understand a few things. I hear all the time about how tiresome it has become to be “politically correct,” but let me tell you, it is just as tiresome trying to defend yourself and your culture. Our traditions have become such a vital part of our identities. It is what’s left of our ancestors and it has to live through us. So when someone says that maybe some people shouldn’t be profiting from our cultures, it’s probably good to listen. There is a line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, but people don’t know where to draw that line (see #3). I absolutely love sharing my culture with my friends. We want you all to be happy and rejoice with us in our celebrations, but please just be respectful about it. If someone says your joke was racist and insensitive, don’t scoff at the fact that people can’t take a joke. It’s happened to me where someone said VERY offensive things about a minority community and when I spoke up about it, they said “it was a joke.” I’ve clearly become the person that gets avoided for certain conversations, but I think to myself “are those really conversations and groups that I want to be a part of?” The answer is NO.
If you’ve come this far…
I want you to know that I love and appreciate you. These things are often hard to talk about because I hate making people uncomfortable. But it’s time that I stop being uncomfortable for other people’s sake. There is truly a beauty that sometimes is unfathomable within the Latinx community. Every time I share food with my friends, I am sharing a piece of myself; a piece of my family. When I sing to my son in Spanish, I am embracing him in the love that my grandma gave to my mom, who in turn gave it to me. When we set up our beautiful altars, I am celebrating the life of those who came before me and hoping that none are ever forgotten. So this Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrate by becoming someone who we would be proud to share these things with. Become our family. Show up for us. Our voices alone may be drowned out by hate, but alongside one another, our voices and actions can drown that hate out.