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My mother in law makes the best rice and beans ever. I’m totally serious. She lives all the way in New York City, but when I know we are getting ready to visit her, my mouth begins to water. In fact, just typing this, I can already smell the beans simmering over her gas-lit stove; I can hear the whistle of the rice being steamed in the cast iron pot; and I can already see the breaded pork chops cooling on the kitchen countertop. 
There is so much I love about my husband’s family. They are kind. They put family-first. They are patient. They are warm and inviting. They have always been people to uplift you on a particularly bad day. They love to play board games (and sometimes they sneak extra play money over to one of the kids when they think no one’s looking). 
I especially love that they are Puerto Rican. 
Being Puerto Rican is a huge part of my husband’s family culture. They are proud to be who they are. 
My husband’s grandfather was a minister who preached in Spanish in his church in Brooklyn. His aunts are also ministers. 
And, my husband’s dad was a minister who committed his life to the betterment of people and communities.
Had I not met my husband or his family, I can’t say that I would have known a lot about Latino culture. And, of course, their family only represents a small slice of Latino culture. Latin America and Spain — though they share some similarities in language — are both incredibly different and incredibly   connected. It is impossible to generalize an entire people, region, and language. 
This diversity is why it is so important that we take the time to learn about Latino and Hispanic culture and heritage. 
hispanic-heritage-month-clip-art-1202001Nationally, the United States honors the dates between September 15 – October 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month. While we at Park strive to provide inclusive engagement of communities all year, this time allows us to pay particular attention to Hispanic and Latinx communities. 
(Note: This might be the first time you are seeing an “x” instead of the letter “o” or “a” at the end of Latinx. It’s intentional. Though it is a language that often delineates between masculine and feminine articles, there is a growing movement to remove the gender binary when using the word in English.)
Below are some helpful resources that you might try in your homes as an accompaniment to what’s being done in the classrooms. Sit together with your child and check out some of these great videos or activities. 
  • Visit our Park School library and check out one of these books that our fabulous librarians have related to Hispanic Heritage Month. Go to “resource list” then “public list.”
  • PBS has great video clips and discussion topics about diverse issues facing Latino and Hispanic Americans
  • National Education Association has a list of easy-to-adapt activities for grades K-12
  • Time Magazine for Kids is also a great resource for printable lessons and teaching resources
  • Finally, one of my favorite resources is Mamiverse, and this site includes a diverse list of books featuring themes, characters and issues related to Latino and Hispanic issues 

 

What can you do to further your own understanding or engagement with Latinx and Hispanic culture? What can you do as a family?

 

Peace and Park, 

Dr. T