September 15th through October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month, and if you are not Hispanic or Latino, and are not familiar with any of the history, contributions and the diversity of any of the many groups included within this designation, there is no better time than now to begin educating yourself. But before I proceed, I am impelled to share a few thoughts on cultural sensitivity for those who might need it. First of all, if you meet a person that you believe is of Hispanic or Latino descent, never assume they belong to a particular group. Many Hispanics/Latinos are offended when they are identified with a group with which they are not associated. To show the proper respect, don’t make assumptions and kindly ask questions, and never assume that the person is not an American citizen or wasn’t born here in the United States. Also, remember that your initial conversation is important because it tells the person you are conversing with a lot about you.
Some important facts: Hispanics/Latinos currently make up 17% of the U.S population numbering 55 million people and growing, and recently surpassed African Americans as the largest sub-minority population in the country. This important group of people with roots in Hispanic/Latino countries will be playing an increasingly important role in politics, economics and in many other major areas here in the U.S.
When we reflect on many of the ideals that Americans as a whole hold dear to their beliefs, understand that our Hispanic and Latino brothers and sisters are strong examples. The faith, commitment to family and their strong work ethic we see in the Hispanic/Latino community are a large part of those values and attitudes that have made America great.
In terms of health, as the Hispanic/Latino cultures grows and continues to impact the culture as a whole, there are contributions that are quietly benefiting all Americans, in areas such as nutrition for example as they relate to health and disease prevention. The core elements of many traditional Hispanic/Latino diets consist of grains, beans, fruits and vegetables, all ingredients which, if incorporated wisely, contributes to healthy diets.
In closing, take a moment to peruse some of the information contained in the following links, and get out there and enjoy some of the diversity we are blessed with here in these U.S. If you are of Latino or Hispanic descent, tell your story here in response to this blog if you choose, it is one of which you should feel proud.