Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
Updated: Oct 13
Did you know today marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month?
September 15 - October 15, 2022 is our opportunity to explore Hispanic culture and stretch the boundaries of our understanding.
As a non-Hispanic woman, I'm excited about this upcoming month as I LOVE Hispanic culture. I've traveled to South and Central America and to the Caribbean. I don't have even a drop of Hispanic blood, but I'm not ashamed to say that I wouldn't mind if I did. Maybe then my hips would move better in the salsa or my tongue would cooperate in rolling my "r's" in Spanish. Sadly, I'll have to work on those things the old-fashioned way.
What am I doing to celebrate the month and stretch my own boundaries by exploring Hispanic culture (and not just the more familiar Mexican or Puerto Rican versions that we encounter more often in the US)?
I'm so glad you asked!
Here are some ideas that I'll be putting into practice this month:
Read some new books!
Yeah, I know, I read a lot.
I rationalize this, as reading within my genre is part of being an author. It's my duty, right? 🙄
Some titles on my TBR ("to be read") list include -
Each Of Us A Desert by Mark Oshiro
Shadowshaper series by Daniel Jose Older
Infinity Son series by Adam Silvera
Nocturna series by Maya Motayno
The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes.
There are so many other titles out by Latinx authors, but these are all sci-fi / fantasy and mainly YA (though the last is middle-grade). Historically, Hispanic authors haven't been well-represented in the American publishing industry, but I've noticed a concerted effort to change that. More literary agents and acquisition editors at the major presses actively seek people of color and those writing from #own voice POV. So, check out your local bookstore for other hidden gems. And when you find one, tell me!
2. Eat out!
I wish I could tour the world in restaurants, though Cincinnati under-reps Hispanic cuisine. For instance, we don't have a single Puerto Rican restaurant here (if you know of one, PLEASE tell me!!). But we have amazing Colombian, Mexican and Caribbean eateries, though. Dig deep wherever you live and stretch your palate. You'll be surprised by the variation between national cuisines. Try a mole or oxtail dish if your local Mexican eatery serves them and don't be afraid of Lengua. It's delicious. Or better yet, ask your server what he or she ate for dinner during their last shift and order that.
3. Go dancing!
Our Southern neighbors have one thing in common - the warmth and vibrancy of their cultures. Though significant variation exists, one commonality I've noticed is the focus on community celebrations. And at the heart of most of these celebrations is dance.
Dance bridges cultures and disarms barriers between people. Whether it's a salsa dance night in a public park (Fountain Square in Cincinnati is known for our summer salsa series), samba at a Brazilian party, or bachata played by the live band at a Hispanic restaurant, dancing is a window into the life of another community. My husband and I love Latin dances, though both of us are working on those hips... Latin Pop music appears in most of my Spotify playlists and if you follow me around town, you may catch me dancing a salsa in the driver's seat at a stoplight. Don't judge me...
Need playlist recs? Find my Underground playlist on Spotify here.
4. Make a friend
Of course, the best way we can learn about another culture is to get to know someone from that culture.
Are there people from Hispanic nations in your community? Have you intentionally gotten spent time with them? Have they eaten a meal in your home?
My last challenge is to make a new friend or two this month. Not as an item on a checklist, but out of genuine curiosity and openness.
The "warm" cultures of South and Central America and the Caribbean differ from our "cold" North American culture in that we Americans often view life through the lens of the individual, while "warm" cultures, like those of our southern neighbors, view life through the lens of community.
How might this affect day-to-day routines? Religious or political views? Or parenting practices?
Hint: "Warm" versus "cold" culture perspectives affect all these and more.
Asking questions and getting to know people from other cultures can give us a fresh perspective on our own, as well as stretch us to see the world through someone else's eyes.
So, go have fun this next month!
I would love to hear about your experience in my Hispanic Heritage Month challenges. Drop me a comment below or DM me, especially if you have restaurant recs!