Editor's Note

Editor's Note: Why Hispanic Heritage Month matters

There’s a lot to learn along with the celebration.

Puerto Rican day parade in NYC.

Puerto Rican day parade in NYC. Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office

I love when I tell people that my mother was from Chile and my father was from Cuba. It often catches some people, mostly Latinos, off guard. While both are Latin American nations, their cultures and customs are quite distinct. Even the accents are different. When I go to Cuba, folks say I sound Chilean. And when I go to Chile, I’m often told I sound like a Cuban.

There was a lot to know about my parents and where they came from while I was growing up. It’s the same when it comes to learning who New Yorkers are, and it shows why heritage months are worth celebrating.

Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off Sept. 15 and began on this date to coincide with the national independence days of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Mexico’s followed on Sept. 16, Chile’s on Sept. 18 and Belize’s on Sept. 21. Cuba will be the last, with its independence day on Oct. 10.

I actually didn’t know of all those dates until GovExec, the company that owns City & State, mentioned them in planning our first Hispanic Employee Resource Group. I’ve always identified as a Hispanic journalist. I speak Spanish fluently thanks to my parents speaking so much of it at home that I almost was an English as a second language student. Fellow Hispanic journalists have become close friends over the years. My mentor, former Daily News columnist Albor Ruiz, who passed away in January, was also from Cuba.

This monthlong celebration brought back memories of people, my roots and culture that I haven’t thought of in a while with the ongoing pandemic being a distraction. It brings me and others pride that we’re happy to share over 30 days once a year.

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