Mid-September marks the start of the Hispanic Heritage Month, but at Mayorga, we celebrate our heritage every day, all year round.
But what is exactly celebrated? Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua all recognize September 15th as the date of their independence from Spain, while Mexico's independence is celebrated September 16th and Chile celebrates its independence September 18th. In what we believe to be marketing with some pandering mixed in, companies in the US are now “celebrating” Hispanic Heritage Month.
We as a company choose not to jump on the bandwagon, or allow ourselves to be tokenized one month per year, so we turn down media and corporate requests that are exclusively focused on HHM. Since this “celebration” isn’t going anywhere, here are five ways we think you can celebrate and honor the culture, influence, contributions and achievements made by the Hispanic and Latino communities.
1. Learn About Hispanic and Latino culture. Especially Our Rich History
Both terms are very similar but they aren’t the same. The Latino term refers to people from Latin America including Central and South America and the Caribbean (refers to geography). On the other hand, Hispanics are Spanish speaking people from Spanish speaking countries (refers to language spoken). Now that we’ve tackled that, let’s talk about how you can learn more about the Latino / Hispanic culture. Start with the book “Open Veins of Latin America” by Eduardo Galeano. Some of his opinions are a bit extreme, but the account of our true history is a must-read for anybody that genuinely wants to support us.
2. Support Our Causes
One of the best ways to lift up a community is by supporting their causes -and we know this firsthand. By identifying organizations that address Latino causes/issues you’ll be helping raise awareness and making an impact. At Mayorga we focus on long-term, direct relationships with producers to create sustainable development for them and their communities. This is our effort to right the wrongs of extractive and abusive agricultural trade. We have other daily issues like immigration, access to healthcare, and access to education.
There are simple things you can do to support our causes, from using your voice to raise awareness to tutoring young students.
Use your voice and social media platforms to raise awareness and educate your family and friends about immigration policies and healthcare issues that are currently affecting the hispanic population.
Mentor or tutor young students who otherwise may not have anyone to ask for homework help, either because their parents didn’t receive a proper education, they don’t speak the language, or simply because they are working to provide for their family.
Engage in educational activities with latino students. One of the main reasons Latino families decide to leave their home country is because of better educational opportunities for their children. By volunteering with organizations that work towards helping students you can be part of the change.
If you’re a community service professional you can help increase people’s skills by training them in specific areas i.e. building a resume, financial education, how to apply for government support or by providing translation services.
3. Support Our Businesses
Mayorga was built by an immigrant who came to the U.S. as a refugee from a revolution. As Martin puts it, “we don't have the friends and family resources or connections that our competition has. We literally had nothing. Just hope and the willingness to work hard. Everything we’ve built we’ve earned through sweat, fighting, and working twice as hard as our competitors who had resources, relationships, and assets.”
These last year Latino-owned businesses were hit hard. Latino business owners have been disproportionately impacted by the current health crisis we’re facing and haven’t been able to access payroll funding at a similar rate as other business owners. Buying or supporting these businesses on social media is a great way to put money back to the community, while shopping locally.
4. Talk to our Community
Start a conversation with an immigrant or child of an immigrant. Ask what their financial and social challenges are. Understand our daily struggles. You’ll hear about how much harder it is for us to get a mortgage, how employers tend to pay us less, or offer us jobs below our qualifications, how we’re discriminated against daily, and how our culture is generally only widely “celebrated” for commercial purposes.
5. Challenge Corporate America
There are so many conversations about diversity right now-yet very little has changed. Take a look at large corporations’ board of directors. Look at companies offering products to Latinos and see how many Latinos they employ at higher levels or if any of the owners are latinos. Look on grocery shelves for quality, healthy products being offered to and by Latino owned companies.
While Latinos make up the biggest share of minorities in the labor force, the gap between labor force and executive representation is the largest among all minorities. Diversity in c-suite positions has been proven to positively impact profitability and job satisfaction, so why are executive positions still primarily dominated by white men?
Cities with the most representation of hispanic minorities in executive positions are also cities with an overall low representation, however, as demographics continue to shift in favor of Latin Americans, we have seen an increase in opportunities for hispanics within the food and restaurant industry.
At Mayorga, we live our culture, diversity and heritage in everything that we do--and we’re proud of it. Our staff comes from different Central and South American countries as well as the Caribbean. We focus on the empowerment, representation, and education of (and for) our communities---from farms to our neighborhoods in the U.S. We appreciate you engaging our communities this month, we’re just asking that it has a little more meaning.
How are you celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month? Tell us in the comments section below and feel free to share this with someone who is proud to be a Latino. For more follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin.