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This Is Why I Don't Call It Hispanic Heritage Month

Vanessa Silva is the founder & CEO of Culinary Artistas. As a Brazilian immigrant, she feels strongly about how language is used to foster a culture of inclusivity in the workplace and beyond.

September 20, 2023

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As we mark the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, we at Culinary Artistas have one request: Pretty please don’t call it that. Or, at least, please consider calling it something else.


Because in an effort to be all inclusive and reparatory, just calling it Hispanic Heritage Month is anything but. I have three reasons for asking you this.

First, the month-long observation is meant to celebrate the history, culture, and contributions of Americans whose ancestry can be traced to over 20 countries in Latin America, including Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean—not just the Hispanic ones.

Second, the word Hispanics remits me to Spain, a brutal colonizer and culture decimator in the Americas. As we use this month to celebrate mostly immigrants and peoples of color in the U.S., I prefer to exclude the word Hispanic from its title.

Lastly, we don’t all speak Spanish in the Americas! Latin Americans speak Spanish, but in some countries the official language is French or Portuguese (like in Brazil, where I am from).

Is there actually a difference between Hispanic & Latino? Why?

The short answer is “yes,” and “it’s complicated.”

Most people agree that the terms Hispanic and Latino refer to two different, albeit partially overlapping groups. 

Hispanic, for starters, refers to a person with ancestry from a country whose primary language is Spanish. Latino and Latinx, meanwhile, refer to a person originating from anywhere in Latin America, including Mexico, South and Central America, and the Caribbean.

Therefore, a person from Brazil (like me, where Portuguese is spoken) would be considered Latino (not Hispanic).

So what should you call it instead? 

At Culinary Artistas, we like to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month. Because the word Latino only implies the male gender, we prefer to use Latinx in an effort to incorporate all genders, including those non-conforming individuals, making it the most inclusive term of all.

How can you celebrate Latinx with your team this month?

Well, that’s entirely up to you! Some things my team has done are employee spotlights, book recommendations and educational workshops. My events team put together a list of 11 other ideas for how to celebrate Lantinx month with your team here, too.

As the owner of a cooking school, I of course love to observe it through food.

Through September 20th, my team will be offering a very special menu we collectively created for a corporate client who wanted to celebrate all the richness of LatinX cuisines from around the world.

The menu includes a refreshing Jamaica Ginger Cooler, which showcases a delightful blend of spirits from the Caribbean, Mexico, and the Andes, along with aromatic elements from tropical America, as well as ceviche and taquito appetizers, inspired by Peru and Mexico. 

For the main event, we’re serving up Moqueca de Camarão or banana-da-terra, a Brazilian classic that I learned when I was a kid. It’s a kind of curry that’s a true fusion of three cultures: Portuguese, West African, and Indigenous Brazilian. (You can get my full recipe here!) 

How can you celebrate LatinX with your team this month?

I believe the best way to connect with a culture is through food. Trying out a new dish from a LatinX culture you want to explore, reading the history about it, and experiencing it through taste allows you to connect on the most intimate levels. 

(If you’re interested in using this special menu for your event, please don’t hesitate to reach out. And for future reference: we can create custom menus for any of your events if you have a specific holiday or event you’re celebrating!)  

In the end, my beef with Hispanic Heritage is that it’s limited. Language helps us identify, categorize, and label our world. And when we use language and descriptive terms or holiday names inclusively, we can create a sense of validity and belonging. 

I appreciate you for reading my little rant.