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The Importance of Hispanic Heritage Month

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September 15th marked the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, a celebration of Hispanic culture, tradition, and LatinX-identified communities around the world. Through October 15th in the United States, we take time to recognize the deeply rooted and rich cultural legacy of Hispanic communities, as well as the independence anniversaries of several Latin American nations.

We strive to honor the culture and history of our LatinX employees, as well as share their experiences as members of these communities. Read on to learn more about their unique backgrounds and diverse heritage.

Valentina Patino
Senior Associate of Addressable Strategy, Matterkind, a Kinesso company

As someone born and raised in Colombia, something that really represents us is our kindness and happiness. I grew up in the city of Pereira, where the motto is, “nobody is a foreigner,” welcoming and helping everyone in the city no matter where they came from. We are also best known for our celebrations—we celebrate everything that happens!

Although I moved in 2012 , nothing much has changed in terms of how proud I feel to be Colombian. I truly embrace my culture more than ever; at every event I go to, I bring a little dish or drink for my friends to try, and sometimes I am even the DJ, because let’s be honest, Latin music makes you wanna dance!

Currently, in my efforts to keep helping others, I am serving in the US Army National Guard. This is my way of continuing to help my community while showing my gratitude for everything this country has given me.

I recently joined Matterkind, and I feel I am finally at the right place! My team is extraordinary, they are patient, kind, and always offering their help. The company culture is also great. Matterkind gives me the opportunity to not only do my regular work, but they also offer ways to continue serving the community with “Impact Day,” where I am one of the site leads, and I am excited to bring our office together and do some good.

Lastly, when I can’t travel to Colombia to visit my family, I feel closer to home by drinking some good Colombian coffee, walking the streets of Jackson Heights in Queens, and enjoying some arepas.

Brianna Rascoe
Associate Director of Graphic Design, Kinesso

Hispanic Heritage Month is hugely important to me. Creating spaces in work and in life for celebrating Hispanic heritage means ensuring people feel pride in their heritage and feel comfort in expressing and being their authentic selves, especially at work. It bolsters a passion for sharing language, recipes, style, and culture not only with friends and colleagues, but with the next generation as well.

This country is a place of opportunity for so many, especially those who escape hard times in surrounding countries to benefit their families and children. While we still have a long way to go collectively, we’ve come a long way in terms of embracing the cultures that have built and run this country. How we treat folks regarding their culture brings great impact beyond the individual. Historically, in many spaces, LatinX folks have felt compelled to try to hide an accent or work incredibly hard to appear as if English is their first language. This contributes to the erasure of cultures both Hispanic and beyond.

Growing up, my grandmother had to cloak her Cuban heritage in order to have an easier time assimilating as a first-generation citizen. She changed her name, and spoke for her mother, who only spoke Spanish. She was made to feel so shameful for not being white, that she changed herself, and as a result, the oppression she experienced swallowed up the culture she should have been able to embrace without consequence. She stopped speaking Spanish and decided not to pass the language down to her children, who were unable to pass it down to theirs.

I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish, nor was I handed down recipes, or coveted calderos. I naturally gravitate towards the food, music, and culture, and while the ropa veija I make is absolute fire, I still feel robbed of a sense of identity in regard to my Cuban heritage. This is why LatinX Heritage Month and all public recognitions of heritage are so important to me: if we support the creation of spaces for people to celebrate who they are and where they come from, that pride becomes the catalyst for their culture to live on.

Kiki Lovelace
Graphic Designer, Kinesso

Growing up, I didn’t speak Spanish, but instead I began learning in my late teens. In my past roles, I wasn’t given the opportunity to explore more programs, positions, or internships that could give me the exposure to enhance my career and speak to my heritage at the same time. I feel like those who didn’t grow up in Spanish speaking households, or speak limited Spanish, sometimes feel they have been ostracized, and are now looking for more opportunities to learn and explore their backgrounds. Working at Kinesso has given me the exposure and chance to feel more connected to my Hispanic heritage than ever before.

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