Hispanic Heritage Month
September 15 – October 15 is officially Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States and in Michigan, and there are so many things to celebrate in so many different ways. Check out how Affinity board and staff celebrate, and follow our Facebook Page for more opportunities to learn about the complexities and intersectionalities of the Hispanic/Latinx experience.
"As a White woman who grew up in a predominately White, middle class community, I’m constantly deepening my understanding of my biases and working to critically examine my own participation in cultures of dominance. Raising biracial children adds an extra layer of intentionality behind the choices I make as an adult because I know I have two little sponges who are watching my every move. I want my kids to value lifelong learning, speaking two languages, and embracing all of their identities even if the rest of the world is telling them not to. My children are lighter skinned and often unknowingly “pass” as White. We talk openly about their multiple heritages, ethnicities, skin colors and cultures. They’re proud of their light brown skin and know it comes from their Papa, that their beautiful dark brown eyes are from their Abuelita, and of course their freckles are from me. I want to make sure they are able to fully embrace their often complex and beautiful identities. We stock our home with books that are written by Latinos and feature Latinx characters; we support local Latinx restaurants (they can’t get enough of the arroz from Lindo Mexico and tacos from El Cunado), and of course attend the annual Hispanic Festival that kicks off the month. While as a family we celebrate their Latinx culture and heritage every day, Hispanic Heritage Month is a small window of time each year where the entire nation celebrates the rich beauty, contributions, and cultures of the Latinx communities. Our hope is that one day we won’t need a designated month because the contributions of Latinx communities will be celebrated, honored, and remembered every day."
Development and Communications Director of Affinity Mentoring
"To me, Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration and honor to immigrants from Latin America. This month I want to celebrate my parents who had the courage to leave their lives in Mexico City to come to the United States in 1992. As a first generation daughter, I have seen the sacrifices that my parents made as they worked for a better future for me and my sisters. This meant having multiple jobs as a cook, a cleaner, a migrant worker, a factory worker, and selling at flea markets. My parents have made the impossible possible as they learned how to navigate in a country with oppressive systems as native Spanish speakers all while raising their daughters in a new country. Para mis padres, llegaron sin nada y me lo dieron todo.
Lee MS Site Coordinator
"Being part of Affinity has been an incredibly fulfilling experience. I have learned that when I speak about justice, equality, and inclusion, I must also continuously question my personal and professional decisions made to ensure I am putting my money where my mouth is. That is not always easy to do. How can I work towards equity for all if I am not also ensuring I am spending money at BIPOC businesses? So often it is easy, cost effective and convenient to utilize the businesses that have the largest reach and the most convenient options. When planning my daughter’s 4th birthday, I asked her what she wanted for food. She immediately shouted “tacos!” I decided to reach out to a local Latinx restaurant. Although it took more effort than say, opening my phone and ordering catering on Chipotle’s website, I kept reminding myself that I needed to practice conscious shopping and reinvest in my community.
"Mi nombre es Mónica soy mexicana nací en el pueblo de Yuriria Guanajuato, para mí y mi familia es muy importante celebrar nuestra cultura y preservar nuestras tradiciones. En mi casa celebramos todos los días nuestra herencia hispana, es algo que es parte de nuestra identidad. Es muy común comer platillos tradicionales, escuchar música mexicana y celebrar nuestro día festivo. Con orgullo y respeto a nuestros antepasados vestimos nuestra ropa típica. También nos gusta participar en eventos en los cuales se celebra nuestra cultura por ejemplo el Festival Hispano que se celebra en el downtown de Grand Rapids. El festival mexicana y el más reciente el festival de cambio. En estas semanas nos gusta participar en el Arte Prize y apoyar a artistas locales hispanos. En mi familia es un orgullo ser hispanos y nos gusta compartir las bellezas de nuestra cultura con los demás y a la misma vez aprender de otras culturas."
SWCC Site Coordinator
"My first true experiences understanding Latinx/Hispanic heritage began as I worked in the Youth Services and Language Services departments of the Hispanic Center of West Michigan. Though I had previously lived for extended periods of time in both Spain and El Salvador, through the HCWM I experienced being immersed in a beautiful subculture of Grand Rapids that I hadn't fully appreciated or paid attention to previously, to my own chagrin. These were the first times I began to truly see my own culture and life experience within its greater context in the US, and to begin appreciating our complexities and variations, as well as my own privilege as a white person. I will forever be grateful for the times Latinx/Hispanic individuals have unnecessarily but openly invited me into their lives, called me out when I caused pain or ignored my privilege, taught me, gave me space to explore and learn, and at times even allow me space into gorgeous celebrations of Latinx/Hispanic culture. Even as an interpreter and translator, as someone who has spent most of their career working in primarily Latinx/Hispanic settings and organizations, I work to never take these invitations for granted, but to cherish them and recognize the vulnerability that someone is offering me. September 15 to October 15 each year is a reminder to myself to check in; how am I using my privilege to make space for others and to advance equity? Where do I still have blind spots that I need to pay attention to? How can I celebrate and cherish such complex and varied and rich cultures without appropriating them? How can I do my job(s) in a way that celebrates the Hispanic/Latinx individuals around me this month, and every month?"
"I come from a family who is very proud of being Hispanic as a child we did not openly celebrate Hispanic/Latinx month because we felt very honored to be Hispanic every day. In my family, we celebrate anything from the smallest accomplishments to the big ones. The number one thing that we are most proud of is family, we treasure the moments spent together more than anything which is why we have a rule in my home that Sunday is set aside for church and family dinner gatherings. This is the number one thing that as a mother I want to pass down to my own boys as Hispanic men, you care for your family and treasure, the time spent together. Lastly, you always celebrate with amazing FOOD!"
Program Director and Burton Site Coordinator
"This month is important because my family is Dominican and well that is our culture and we love to embrace it and celebrate it. My son was born here and I love to read books with him about DR and Latino heritage overall. Our favorite book to read is called Islandborn by Junot Diaz. Hispanic Heritage celebration is pretty much everyday for us, because it is who we are. We eat Dominican food 80% of the time at home or from a local restaurants such as Carniceria Latina, Rincon Criollo or Sabor Latino. I am very proud of my roots and the fact that I am able to speak two languages very fluently. Also, that I have a home away from home in the Dominican Republic."
Board Member and SWCC Mentor