Why we celebrate Latinx heritage in October

September 15 to October 15 is National Latinx Heritage Month. Learn more about Latinx identity and what makes this month special in this interview with a Contentful employee of Latinx descent.

Each year, Americans observe National Latinx Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15 by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

Latinx Heritage Month is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the rich histories, cultures, and contributions of the Latinx community and allies with roots from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central, and South America.

You may wonder — why does it begin mid-month? This is because it coincides with national independence days in several Latin American countries: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica celebrate on Sept. 15, followed by Mexico on Sept. 16, Chile on Sept. 18 and Belize on Sept. 21.

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A note on terms:

“Hispanic” is the oldest term used to refer to the largest and one of the most diverse growing minorities in the U.S. The word is often associated with the origins of Spanish colonialism in America and can exclude indigenous, Brazilian, and other non-Spanish-speaking groups. 

“Latino” is more inclusive in terms of geography, as it doesn’t relate to language and embraces the whole region. However, the use of masculine "Latino" term as a universal description, excludes an entire group of identities. 

“Latinx” is a term that is inclusive of men, women, gender-expansive and gender non-conforming individuals. Additionally, “Latinx” challenges the binary nature of the Spanish-language term Latino(a) and also centers the lives of indigenous, Brazilian and other non-Spanish speaking people in this celebration month.

Senior Recruiter for Contentful, Nicole Ceranna, had a conversation with Contentful Recruitment Operations Lead Bella Thomas to discuss what this month and her Latinx identity means to her. 

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Nicole: Please tell us about someone that has been influential to you within the Latinx community and what they mean to you.

Bella: I believe if you ask this question, many Latinx people will name someone from their family. For me, my most influential person is my mother. She is not Jennifer Lopez or someone famous, but she is my hero. She raised three amazing women working a day job and a night job to be able to provide us with a decent life and education. 

There are many Latinas out there doing amazing things. Someone that I also admire is Sonya Sotomayor. I remember watching her being sworn in to the Supreme Court by President Obama and I was so proud that we have representation in such a powerful way. We will have a seat at the table. The experiences of my generation and the generations to come will be represented on the highest court. 

Nicole: How can we continue to raise awareness of Latinx heritage? What is something you think people should be more aware of?

Bella: There is so much to say here, but personally I would love to bring more awareness to the different cultures in the Latinx and Hispanic communities. Sometimes mainstream media focuses mainly on Mexican and Cuban heritage, which is such a big part of the American DNA, but there is a whole plethora of people and cultures out there that need more recognition and awareness around the role they play in our society. There are French-speaking Latinos, Portuguese-speaking people like myself, there are Colombians, there are Salvadorenos… Somos muitos (We are many!) out there. 

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Nicole: What advice would you give young Hispanic/Latinx professionals that are looking to get into the tech space? What about advice you would give to people who want to be allies to their Latinx colleagues, friends and community members? 

Bella: This is the advice I wish I had heard while in my early twenties: do not settle. At some point in your career, you may be in a good job with decent pay and benefits, and that is great. Your family is proud, right? But don’t be afraid to cross a new frontier into something less secure and familiar. Start a new career, build something completely new —  you have to let go of what is comfortable. Sometimes if you take the nontraditional path, your mom might not be happy; she will want you to take an easier path in your career. After all, she conquered so many difficulties to raise you. But if you free yourself, be your authentic self, and follow your dreams, you can do anything. I think, in general, we are a very resilient bunch. Take risks! Your family and community may not understand now, but they will still support you. Isabel Allende once said, “You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend, or not,” and I believe wholeheartedly in that. 

And for anyone that would like to be an ally to their Latinx colleagues and community members, the best way you can help is to educate yourself on the culture, struggles and perspectives of that community and uplift their voices.

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