Hispanic Heritage Month: Fifty-Three Years Later

Despite having been first signed into law in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson, growing up as a white kid in Richmond, Virginia, I don’t think I was even aware of Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) — observed each year between September 15 – October 15 – until after I had first met my wife in 2011. She is Mexican American from Texas with roots that go way back to Texas… like before Texas was Texas, Texas. 

And now with two children of Hispanic heritage, I not only am aware of HHM, but recognize how important it is for my kids to embrace this part of their collective identity and understand the history behind why it exists. 

Why it Exists? To Not Exist. 

This month exists for the same reason all other months of recognition exist: Hispanic history and the contributions of Hispanic Americans have long been overlooked and necessitate public recognition. 

In a recent DE&I training at Padilla by The BrandLab, the leader of the workshop identified their business’ vision for “a marketing industry that thrives with the insights and creativity of people from all backgrounds,” and that eventually The BrandLab’s goal is to “not exist”. That is, once its mission is completed, we won’t need workshops on inclusion, because all will be included.  

Similarly, the objective of HHM will be achieved when the history of Hispanic Americans is fully incorporated into American History. And when Hispanic culture is part of mainstream culture in a way that doesn’t need to be explained. 

The likes of Pero Like are making huge leaps in creating a media platform for this vision culturally, and the fact that a show like Los Espookys (which I love!) can get renewed for a second season is a promising barometer for success. 

But we’re not there yet. 

Because without Hispanic Heritage Month, and increasing “optional” legislation for the inclusion within our children’s curriculum, I would claim we only are increasing our biases and inability to connect with others in a meaningful way. 

What it Means at Padilla 

For the same reasons why I believe it to be so important in my children’s education, there are extremely practical implications that extend into what we do at Padilla every day and we call our Shared Beliefs. 

Two of them stand out in their relation to Hispanic Heritage Month: “Walk in their world” and “Think as many”. 

Walk in their world. 

We define this by not letting assumptions get in the way of understanding people. Or put in another way, how do we set our biases aside when solving problems? 

This HHM, what is one way you can expand your understanding of Hispanic culture?  My wife is a movie buff and the likes of La BambaStand and Deliverand Selena were all on the mandatory list, but this list is a great start too. 

Think as many. 

At Padilla, we pride ourselves in drawing strength from the collective of our individual perspectives. Looking for additional voices that can help turn good work into brilliant work. 

Padilla has partnered with five agencies to form that Twin Cities PR BIPOC Career Explorer Program — which kicked off this week – to help raise awareness for career paths of those who may not be exposed to this industry otherwise. Similarly, how can you uplift a marginalized voice that may be overlooked this HHM? 

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