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Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month: Giving and Leading in Our Community

Many people are familiar with the phrase, “Mi casa es tu casa.” This traditionally Mexican phrase literally means, “My house is your house.” It is a phrase embodying the ultimate generosity of one’s resources. This abundant spirit of generosidad courses through the local and broader Latinx community as demonstrated in our work, our leadership, and our giving.

Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration of the culture and contributions of Latin Americans in the United States. The month runs from September 15-October 15, beginning with the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, and the independence dates of Mexico and Chile on September 16 and 18, respectively.

“We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month as an opportunity to show everyone the richness of our culture and traditions. During this month, we also highlight the very important economic, cultural and social contributions of the Latino community to our state and nation,” says Ivan Segura, executive director of Palmetto Luna Arts and Program Manager of Hispanic/Latino Affairs at the S.C. Commission for Minority Affairs, on why it is important to honor this month. Maria Martin, executive director of PASOs, emphasizes, “It is important to celebrate [email protected]/Hispanic Heritage Month because we are the largest minority in the United States, therefore, sharing and learning about us makes sense as we are largely interwoven into the fabric of the U.S. [email protected]/Hispanic communities have much to offer and, given our wide range of diversity, we bring more richness and opportunity for the U.S. to grow and thrive.”

Hispanic Heritage Month — also known as Latino Heritage Month or, more recently Latinx Heritage Month — recognizes a group of people who represent 20 different Latin American countries. The experiences and stories of Latinx people are widely varied – even so far as what word we choose to use to describe our ethnicity. These separate cultural threads, however, do overlap. In those intersections lies the opportunity to collaborate and bring us together in solidarity and sharing resources.

While the roots of “Mi casa es tu casa” get lost in translation (some folklore attributes the phrase as having been a forced greeting used by tenants to their all-in-one boss and landlord who paid them less than their rent; another tale suggests it as the way Moctezuma greeted Cortés in efforts to build trust which ultimately backfired for the Aztecs), the sentiment holds true for many Latinx people. “As a member of the Latinx community, I believe with every opportunity you seize, you also acquire the responsibility to help those who have not yet been able to access such opportunities. We are all in this together and only working together will bring true development for Latinos in South Carolina,” says Segura. Being able to rely on the surrounding community made up of closely knit relations rather than only the nuclear family is quintessential to the values among many Latinx people.

Philanthropic giving among the Latinx community in the U.S. has been studied in recent years, namely by Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and The Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy. The point of interest lies not only in that Latinx people give back to their communities as recent studies reveal donors of color are changing philanthropy, but how: most Latinx giving is done through mutualistas, or mutual aid, and to faith-based organizations to support families and individuals directly. Giving to a mutualista speaks to a larger sense of family, and further, of solidarity. Giving while expecting nothing other than to see your community stronger, speaks to cultural values that have rooted themselves in our philanthropic giving – trust-based philanthropy at its core. Perhaps because of the same top-down systems that have long impacted our community, the fervent spirit of generosidad creates equitable opportunities. As shared by DACA United SC, “As people who have been impacted both directly and indirectly by the unjust immigration system, supporting organizations like ours means that we can do more work to support Latine members of our community who are incorporated in every aspect of our local economy and society.” Across the philanthropic sector, trust-based philanthropy is now being modeled among more funders and donors, acknowledging that this method of distributing funds empowers people to move in their own way away from the margins.

As the Latinx population continues to increase – an astounding 23% increase in the past decade, totaling 62.1 million according to the 2020 Census – so does the importance of sharing our history and celebrating our contributions. Here in the Midlands, local Latinx leaders have found creative ways to serve from within the community, focusing on what is impacting people immediately surrounding them: neighbors, friends, colleagues, peers. “Supporting Latinx-led organizations benefits everyone in the Midlands since we are your neighbors, friends, colleagues, peers, businesses, advocates, and when communities look after one another we all do better,” says Mike Young, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion as PASOs. “Helping each other essentially leads to helping ourselves reach our fullest potential and wellbeing.”

“Hispanic Heritage Month can be called Hispanic Heritage, Latino Heritage, Latinx – really doesn’t matter. What matters is what’s in your heart,” Tanya Rodriguez-Hodges, executive director Latino Communications Community Development Corporation warmly remarks. “The more we know about each other, the better we will be as a people. And the more we know about our culture, the more we can then teach the second, third, fourth and so on generations. Somos unidos, Latinos y más.”

Here are Latinx-led nonprofits in the Midlands to consider learning more about and supporting:

*Registered nonprofit on MidlandsGives.org, a year-round resource for donors across the Midlands, powered by Central Carolina Community Foundation.

— Guest blog by Elizabeth R. Houck, CCCF strategic initiatives associate.

Photos from PASOs, Latino Communications Community Development Corporation and Palmetto Luna Arts

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