How about I tell you in a nonsensitive way first?
Let me start by saying this: don’t dress up in traditional outfits that aren’t part of your culture, it looks ridiculous. Taco bell and chipotle are also not authentic Hispanic food. Google is your friend, use it to find authentic restaurants near you.
Lastly, be aware that not every Hispanic celebrates this month and should not be expected to answer every single question you have about their culture. If you are unsure if you are being a pain in the butt just check in with your buddy and ask “am I being annoying?”. And again, google is your friend.
Now let’s take it back to 1968. This is the year Hispanic Heritage week became official by President Lyndon Johnson. Yes, it was only a week. Then President George H.W. Bush extended it to a month in 1989. Why is it in September you ask? It’s because many Hispanic countries celebrate independence day in September. Woohoo! Now I am about to drop some juicy news here. Brace yourself! Mexico’s Independence day is on September 16th… Not Cinco de Mayo. Did you get that? So get out your sombreros and celebrate, just kidding, put them away and keep reading to learn what you can do that day instead.
How can we celebrate this month from a mental health perspective though?
I recommend those who are not Hispanic to challenge themselves to:
1.Ttry something new and authentic from a Hispanic country.
2. Watch a show or movie about a Hispanic country. (builds empathy)
3. Attend an event that celebrates Hispanic cultures (get comfortable with being uncomfortable as being the minority in this setting).
For those who are Hispanic (like me) this is what I suggest:
- Learn more about your culture, there is bound to be something you didn’t know.
- Learn about another Hispanic country this month.
- Spend this time in the community by going to events, or engaging with your Hispanic community through social media.
How is this related to mental health? Trying things outside your comfort zone, especially when they relate to culture, can increase your self-awareness and cultural awareness. Many stereotypes can be brought about by a lack of knowledge or limited knowledge. Increasing one’s understanding of a different culture can lead to a more accurate and healthier perspective of people within this culture (without generalizing) and can decrease bias and discrimination.
Let’s embrace this Hispanic Heritage Month and learn something new!
If you want to learn more here is an article about Hispanic Heritage Month:
From your favorite Latina therapist,
Erika Medrano M.A. LGPC