A little over a week into 2022's Hispanic Heritage Month*, our Friends of the Children—Portland community gathered en masse to recognize and celebrate the many cultures that make up this honorary month. Here at FriendsPDX, the youth we walk alongside have origins in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Colombia, Honduras, Venezuela, Brazil, Portugal, Afro-Latinx, and Indigenous culture. With such a wide variety of peoples and backgrounds, this weekend event was created from a foundation of intention, inclusivity, and love.
Caregivers and families were offered the opportunity to share customary food and drinks and compensated for their contributions. Historically, the communities that we are representing, and celebrating have been paid up to 50% less than their white counterparts. Latina women's work and labor are often underpaid or even unpaid. Thanks to many generous families, event attendees enjoyed homemade posole, tamales, menudo y birria, tostadas, arroz y frijoles, agua de jamaica (a hibiscus beverage), and horchata. It was an absolute feast, and we are so grateful for the time these families put into these delicacies!
The lovely Cosecha Mestiza group from Woodburn joined us to share danza folklórica, traditional dances, with our community. These dances represented each Mexican state and one youth shared that she had never seen such colorful dresses nor the special clog-like shoes that many of the dancers wore while keeping the beat and rhythm.
Other youth asked their mentor to prioritize attending again next year because it was such a lovely event. With so many members of our community present, it was wonderful to connect with so many youth, their families, and staff. A Friend on the organizing committee said they saw such joy in so many youth's eyes and a conversation with one who shared, ""who knew Spiderman was Black and Spanish like me, I probably got his powers too!" Or, regardless of age, perhaps we all may need a Muñeca quitapena (worry doll) under our pillows to soothe us at night.
When it comes to identity, there is so much value in knowing who you are, knowing where you came from, and celebrating intentionally!