From left to right: Emiliano Martinez, Dalia Rubiano Yedidia, Abel Regalado, Gaby López and Luis Ornelas. (Photos by Dale Ramos)
As part of Latinx Heritage Month, we’ve been celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of people living in the U.S. whose ancestors came from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
The cultural month begins on Sept. 15 because it marks the anniversary of the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.
I come from somewhere. My culture binds me to my humanity and guides me in my fight for justice.
Dalia Rubiano Yedidia
During this time, our Unidos employee resource group has been hosting celebratory events to educate our teams about multiculturalism and the history of the countless contributions of the Latinx community. Each event is connected to the theme — “de aquí, y de allá” or “from here, and from there” — meaning members of the Latinx community belong everywhere, in every space. We spoke with a few CZIers to learn how they celebrate their Latinx heritage year-round and what inspires them most about the community.
Abel Regalado is a first-generation Mexican American and software engineer on the education team. Abel was raised in a Spanish-speaking household by two Mexican immigrant parents and grew up in Oakland’s Latinx community.
“I celebrate my Mexican and Latinx culture and roots by preserving generational family recipes passed by my mom,” he says. “I celebrate by eating tamales and birria during Christmas, New Years, and basically any other family reunion. I celebrate by honoring Latinx folks who came before me and by uplifting the up-and-coming generation of Latinx youth in my community.”
Gaby López, director of Research to Practice Measures for CZI’s Education Initiative, is a first-generation Guatemalan American. Gaby most appreciates her culture’s deep connection to living and ancestral family.
Her mother used to tell her, “Te pueden quitar lo material, pero tu educación nunca te lo pueden quitar. Y con eso servis a tu comunidad.” It means, “They can take the material things away, but they can never take your education, and with it, you can serve your community.”
Dalia Rubiano Yedidia
Dalia Rubiano Yedidia is a movement capacity building strategist and mixed Latinx, Jewish queer woman. Her mother is from Bogotá, Colombia.
Dalia brings her identity as a Latina and daughter of an immigrant to her work, which guides her “toward principled action and understanding who and how I want to be in the world. I come from somewhere. My culture binds me to humanity and guides me in my fight for justice.”
Emiliano Martinez, a director in CZI’s legal department, identifies with the Latinx community through his dad’s family from outside Aguascalientes, Mexico. Emiliano’s great-grandmother and grandfather made the arduous journey to California by foot when his grandfather was a young child.
Emiliano celebrates his culture by “continuing to work on my Spanish language skills, and passing the language on to my kids. And also by making sure my kids know about the struggles and sacrifices our family made that allow us to have the life we have today.”
Luis Ornelas is an educational practice manager and the son of Mexican immigrants. He appreciates the love, closeness and importance of family within his culture, and the joy and energy that flows through family gatherings.
For as long as Luis can remember, his mom embodied the saying, “Donde come uno, comen dos,” or “Where one can eat, two can eat.” He says, “despite how much or how little we have, my mom always makes room at the dinner table for friends, family or anyone in need. While the food we eat changes … the belief that our table is big enough for others has always been true in our home.”