My name is Jennifer Moreno and I’m the Deputy Director of the Comprehensive Transition Program here at KYC. I’m also proudly Puerto Rican with Sephardic roots (Hispanic Jewish people). My father was born and raised on the island of Puerto Rico; I was born in Chicago.
Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates and honors the contributions and influences that Latinx people have made to Estados Unidos de America (United States of America).
I’m fulfilled to be part of a rich culture of food, passion for life, dance, and resiliency. The truth is, Latinx people have different cultures, identities, and experiences; we are certainly all unique. I will share a little of my experience.
I grew up in Chicago, and watched many of my people go through complex life challenges and in some cases, tragedy.
Many of my amigos y familia (friends and family) have since passed on. I watched my community in Humboldt Park fight against poverty, substances, violence, and stereotypes. I’ve also seen many in my comunidad (community) overcome and conquer the impossible. The successes of my people has been an amazing thing to witness. To watch colegas y amigos (colleagues and friends) work together to fight stereotypes and make an influence in the lives of many people and themselves has been priceless. It is a torch that I am obligated to carry.
In my experience at Kenneth Young Center, I have been shown much respeto (respect) for my culture and identity. Yes, we have differences, but we all bleed red.
Hispanic Heritage Month is about honoring our collective cultures and celebrating who we are as a people, while striving for unity. I’d gladly share a plate of mofongo and arroz con gandules with anyone at KYC.
Whether your roots are Mexican, Ecuadorian, Brazilian, or Guatemalan or any of the 33 proud Latin American and Caribbean countries, you are seen and you are celebrated during this special month.
As I reflect on this month of celebration and pride, I think of the words by Sonia Sotomeyer, “The Latina in me is an ember that blazes forever.”
As a Latinx person, I have often been thought of as a fierce and passionate individual. I used to take offense to these words, but now I let these thoughts guide my work and guide who I am.
As a people, we have come so very far, but there is still work to be done! We must continue to build community, educate others, help others, and strive for unidad (unity).
I leave you with one message today: Be you, always be fiercely and uniquely you.
Que tengas un buen día! (Have a good day!)
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