“Defining myself is like confining myself
so I undefined myself to find myself
we are all mirrors
co-definers of this human experience” – IN-Q
Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) is a reminder for each of us to reflect on the richness of our history and the lessons it has taught us. Each year we band together as a culture to move forward as people and as a community.
What a unique year 2020 has been. Never in our lives have we experienced a global phenomenon like COVID. Never in my life have I witnessed so many acts of hate and violence against the Black and African American community. Our economy is not doing well, and our community has never faced such unique immigration challenges. It is easy to feel a sense of despair, a sense that we are on a knife’s edge where our lives, our values, and our world can tip in either direction: hope or despair. I, for one, choose hope.
As we pause to celebrate HHM, I would invite us all to introspect. What can we do to advance our own learnings, contributions, and impact? Compassion is an action, unfortunately so is inaction. During HMM, ask yourself what you can do as an individual. Ask yourself what we can do as a community.
Do you still have a heartbeat? If so, be grateful and do something with it. In an election year, it’s time to re-establish this eternal value: we don’t simply exist, instead we decide what our existence will be. Quantum physics teaches us that infinite possibilities exist at any point in time, and through the process of measuring one, we destroy all others, and we create our present. In other words, humans are ultimately self-determining. Each one of us gets to decide, from moment of time to moment of time, what we will become in the next moment of time. By the same philosophy, each of us, at any instant, have the freedom to change.
As I think about my own identity, while I celebrate my Brazilian roots, and my connection to the Hispanic and Latinx community in the US and globally, I also cannot help being exhausted by the desire for us to label everything. We label people, we label places, we label objects, and we label everything in between. Labels, in and of themselves, aren’t a bad thing. Labels can create connection, community, and safety. Labels become harmful when weaponized to classify a person or a group of people in inaccurate or restrictive ways. When we look back on history, it is the moments where we intentionally question labels, their systems and their structures, that have yielded progress for our community and society as a whole.
My hope is that we take the words and aspiration of empowerment and make them real. That we take the words and aspirations of empathy and make them real. Real for all the people in our lives. I hope we become unapologetic about our need for connection, our need for community, specifically at a time that is unsettling and uncertain for each of us.
I hope this moment, this month, this year of 2020 becomes a turning point where each of us feels proud to contribute towards creating a psychologically safe environment for all of us, regardless of label, regardless of space, and regardless of time.
I know I’ll continue doing my part to nudge in that general direction.
Please visit microsoft.com/en-us/hispanic-heritage-month/ for more information.