Our Heritage Month is always a welcomed celebration when September 15 rolls around. It’s a time for us to celebrate who we are as a people, the achievements that we have made or are making, and explore what it means to be Latine in the present year. It’s also a time when big corporations, media companies, and the like bring out the best of the best when it comes to content geared towards our communities.
Seeing all the love personally makes me feel valued, seen, and like the stories and culture that I grew up with are of value. For example, organizations like GLAAD celebrating trailblazers that are both Latine and part of LGBTQ+ communities feels like someone is finally understanding the complexities of my identity. Other companies like NPR put together a selection of Latine artists for their Tiny Desk (At Home) Series, helping me discover new talent and appreciate our diversity in music and languages.
Then, you have major companies like Netflix who have been promoting the heck, as they should, of Maya and the Three before its October 22 release. Disney is doing the same but with Encanto, releasing November 24, which looks worthwhile from the interviews we’ve done with the directors. And others like tech giants Instagram and Facebook have taken their hand at creating spaces for our communities to explore and celebrate who we are as a people.
During this month, we’re also hot commodities to speak on panels and podcasts about media representation or marketing to our communities. But what about when those same companies and brands hold conversations outside of identity in August or any other month — ones that we’re more than capable and deserving of being a part of.
We love seeing others discover the intricacies and talent carried within our people during this time, and while all of this is appreciated, when October 15 rolls around I can’t help but feel a sense of disheartenment. It feels like our time is gone like the tokenized wind, and just like that we’re back to counting down until some of our voices matter and asked the same old questions of, “What are you most proud of?” It’s important to note that while our communities are celebrated during this time, there is much work to be done in who we’re celebrating and the erasure of Black and Indigenous communities that still exists not just during this month but year-round.
That’s why the essence of Our Heritage Month needs to be something we consider all year long. I’m not saying that we need to extend this celebration and get rid of the month itself. The specificity of this month matters, and it’s a welcome reminder to all of how rich and wondrous our communities really are — and highlights the impactful work that has been and still needs to be done. What I’m saying is that organizations and companies shouldn’t limit themselves to highlighting and speaking to Latine communities only between September 15 and October 15.
Our communities are worthy of being celebrated every day, week, or month. We have things to say year-round. We have the talent, we have the stories, and we have the numbers. So, why wait until Our Heritage Month to make lists about us, celebrate our artists, or create worlds based on our stories and legends? Who we are is worthy of being given the time of day no matter what is going on. And contrary to popular belief, doing this doesn’t take away from other celebrations throughout the year.
If anything, celebrating Latine communities and their efforts on a more consistent basis normalizes our experiences and allows for more celebrations of who we are while opening the doors for our people to get creative and tell the stories never been told before. Even within our own communities: With more room for conversations, it will force many to face the privileges they ignore until they’re back to being performative allies in September. That’s why I urge organizations and companies, or anyone reading this, to not forget Latine folks when Our Heritage Month is over.
And to our people, our communities, remember to keep moving, shaking, and shining all year round — while still deconstructing and unlearning our problematic constructs. Because those steps we take individually move us all forward, bit by bit, step by step.