Ask any American, and most could easily tell you that Black History Month comes around once a year every February. However, I’d take a gamble to assume many would be pressed to easily recall when the annual celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month begins. What started out as a week-long celebration to highlight the independence days of several Latin American countries beginning September 15, 1968 has extended into a month-long event celebrating the history and contributions of many Hispanic-Americans to this country. As Snowball’s newest employee, and resident Latina – I wanted to reflect on my experiences as well as share more information about this little-known holiday.
Throughout my career, I’ve rarely seen Latinos in my own industry. Latinos are one of the fastest-growing demographics in the country, yet I have a hard time finding anyone that looks like me in my field of work. In my experience, I’ve only worked with a handful of Latino people during my near-decade in the print industry. In many of the cases, the Latinos I’ve worked with were part of the production team, and rarely in the front office. I started my career in print as a Production Floor Lead where I had the most connections to fellow Latinos. As my roles have changed, I’ve found myself as one of the few or only Latinos in my workplace.
In Candice’s Diversity in Print blog post in August, she calls on a statistic stating Latinos make up only 15% of the print industry. Fifteen. As I read her article, I zeroed in on this statistic, knowing it would be a disappointing number. Even more disheartening, this number is the largest of the minorities, with Black and Asian populations having even less representation in our field.
It’s easy to get discouraged when seeing and experiencing the lack of diversity, but that approach doesn’t get us very far. It’s no secret that representation and celebration matters, and seeing other Latinos achieving success makes it feel that much more possible, and has encouraged me to push for more. I’m encouraged by Carmen Rad, a female entrepreneur who has built her own print business from the ground up. I’m encouraged by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sonia Sotomayor, strong leaders who against the odds, rose to important roles within our government. I’m encouraged by Sylvia Rivera, a civil-rights activist who fought for LGBTQ rights at Stonewall and beyond. The list only begins here.
As National Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, I compel everyone to take some time to learn more about important Latinos who have made an impact in your community, industry, or overall life: I promise, they are out there. This initially week-long celebration was extended to encourage this learning & celebration. Even if you’re not of Hispanic or Latino descent, there’s much to be learned by taking some time out to listen to those in our past to help shape our future.
Written by Jenny Gonzales