A little while ago, I volunteered to write a note to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month. I always find that putting things in writing helps me clarify my thinking, and wanted to share my experience with my network.
I thought that writing the note would be a piece of cake. After all, I am Hispanic and have decades of experience on the topic, right?
My initial strategy was as simple as 1-2-3. Take a stroll down memory lane, find examples of people wearing a sombrero and wagging a bottle of tequila, and describe what they looked like. Presto! We are done!… Well, I remember meeting a few folks with sombreros, wagging a bottle of tequila (and apparently having a great time). But not a single one of them was Hispanic.
My initial approach was an abject failure. Luckily, I had a Plan B. Describing the most common skin colors and body builds you find in the hispanic community should suffice! Here is my initial list: white, black, yellow, brown, red; petite, regular, tall; small, medium, large, extra-large; and everything in between. Hmmm...
Discard country of origin. Hispanics come from all kinds of places including Puerto Rico, Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Venezuela, Spain, Andorra, Equatorial Guinea, Rapa Nui (or Easter Island as it is known today) and many others. I was running out of ideas… Do all Hispanics actually speak Spanish? Nope. Could it be that all Hispanics were born on Cinco de Mayo? Nope (admittedly this last idea was a desperate attempt unworthy or any serious research. But at least I learned that philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, pop singer Adele, and news-anchor Brian Williams were indeed born on May 5).
Eureka! It must be the surname! García, Lopez, Mendoza, Castañeda... sounds promising! …Bibas, Nimo, Duchini, Jehovics, Jaskowiak… Nope, not the surname. Education?... Nope. Race?… Nope. Religion?... Nope. Accent?... Nope. T alent?… Nope. Siesta?... Nope. Work-ethic?... Nope. Ideology?... Nope.
It’s probably time to admit my inability to describe Hispanics and leave that to subject matter experts!
One thing I know for sure is that I’m proud of being Hispanic. I’m proud of our family values, I’m proud of our cuisine, I’m proud of being part of a group that has produced (and continues to do so) amazing mathematical and astronomical discoveries, beautiful architecture, and great works of art (some of which were accomplished while the rest of the planet was in the Dark Ages). I’m proud of our music, our movies, our athletes, our scientists, our literature… In a nutshell, I’m proud of our incredibly rich, complex, and diverse heritage; and the fact that this heritage allows me to contribute to society, appreciate its strengths and opportunities, and appreciate the value and contribution of people from all walks of life.
Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!