As we step into the vibrant tapestry of Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s a perfect time to open our hearts and minds to the diverse cultures that contribute to the Hispanic, Latino, Latina, and Latinx communities.
This month-long celebration, spanning from September 15 to October 15, reminds us to honor and learn from the diverse experiences that shape our colleagues’ family origins. Embracing these cultures not only fosters a more inclusive environment but also enriches our collective knowledge and understanding.
Many terms are used to describe people who come from or have family roots in Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America – Hispanic, Latino, Latina, Latinx. Often, these terms are used interchangeably, but is there a right or wrong? Understanding the histories and traditions of Hispanic and Latino/a/x cultures goes beyond cultural appreciation — it’s a way to connect on a personal level.
Members of our Juntos employee resource group (ERG) recently discussed what ethnicity we identify with. Although most did not take issue with being identified as Hispanic, a term that refers to all Spanish-speaking populations, many preferred to identify more specifically with their country of origin (for example, Cuban American, Mexican American, Puerto Rican).
These conversations about identities and family origins create an atmosphere of belonging. They allow us to share stories, experiences and traditions that have shaped who we are. Embracing cultural education helps us move beyond stereotypes and misconceptions, fostering a sense of empathy and understanding. We acknowledge the uniqueness of everyone’s background and strengthen the bonds that tie us together as a team.
So, how do people of Hispanic or Latin American descent within Centric feel about these terms? Here’s what members of our Juntos ERG have to say:
Melina Esparza, National Marketing Specialist
Family Origin: Zacatecas, Mexico
Term Preference(s) and why? My parents are both immigrants from Mexico, which makes me a first-generation Mexican American. I don’t mind being referred to as Hispanic or Latina, but I take pride in my family roots and would choose to identify more personally as Mexican American. Although I was born and physically reside in the U.S., the way I was raised stemmed from my family’s traditions growing up in Mexico and make up a large part of my identity to this day.
Marlon Reyes, Business Analyst, Miami Practice
Family Origin: Guatemala and Honduras
Term Preference(s) and why? I was born in Guatemala and moved to the States when I was nine years old. My ESL teacher inculcated in me a love and appreciation for this country. I was hungry to learn English while also appreciating and preserving my native Spanish tongue. I am perfectly fine with being referred to as Hispanic or Latino American.
Joyce Meyer-Warren, Enterprise Portfolio and Program Management Practice Lead
Family Origin: Quito, Ecuador, and U.S.
Term Preference(s) and why? I have no issue with being referred to as Hispanic or of Latin American descent. Generally, we lean towards using “Latin.” However, I do emphasize my family’s specific country of origin because each one holds its own unique traditions and cultural distinctions. Embracing these terms allows me to appreciate the richness of my heritage and the diversity within the broader Latin American and Hispanic communities. My mother’s side of the family (aunts, uncle, and a handful of cousins) still resides in Ecuador, and we recently returned from a visit. It was an incredible experience!
Carlos Vazquez, Senior Consulting, Boston Practice
Family Origin: Puerto Rico
Term Preference(s) and why? I don’t mind or have a preference between Hispanic or Latino. I take part in the shared experience of being of Latin American descent in the United States and love the sense of community that comes with it. That being said, when speaking about myself, I refer to myself as Puerto Rican. The rich culture, history and traditions associated with Puerto Rico are something I’m proud of and form an important part of who I am.
Hilary (Hil) A. Lee, Juntos Sponsor and Chicago Practice Lead
Family Origin: Sinaloa, Mexico and Edinburgh, Scotland
Term Preference(s) and why? I’m comfortable being identified as Hispanic or Latina, but I prefer Mexican American (Scottish). More specifically, my family is part of the native Aztec tribe in Mexico and Clan Gunn in Scotland. I grew up in a very diverse household and am incredibly proud of my heritage from both sides of the Atlantic, so I like to honor both sides.
Cultural identity is not as easy as picking one term, and that’s okay! By encouraging curiosity and open dialogue, we bridge the gaps between cultures, fostering an environment of learning and growth. As we reflect on the contributions of Hispanic and Latino/a/x communities, let’s strive to create a workplace that truly reflects the beautiful mosaic of cultures that make us who we are. To help us celebrate this Hispanic Heritage Month, the Juntos ERG has created a Spotify playlist. ¡Viva la música, viva la cultura!