Hispanic Heritage Month provides a great opportunity to showcase the many contributions by the Latinx community to the United States, and to learn more about the people, countries, and cultures of Latin America. The month provides a platform for the Latinx community to share our stories, from our perspective, in our own words.
For authentic expression, this is indispensable. And yet it doesn’t happen nearly as much as it should, during this designated month or throughout the year. Too often we hear about us and too often these stories reflect stereotypes rather than the rich and beautiful tapestry of our history. I’m from Argentina and my wife is from Honduras, and I couldn’t tell you the number of times growing up I heard about Madonna’s version of “Evita” and later, from my wife, about the US-centric version of the gang and drug problems of her country.
When someone else tells your story, it strips away the complexity of your own history and can be disempowering. We’ve all heard the horror stories of 2018 family separation at the US southern border. I recently learned something that has left me saddened: during that time, not one US mainstream media story included a single Central American (US or foreign-born) expert, Central American NGO leader, or journalist.*
No wonder the stories portray “victims” without their consent, with their true selves–beautiful and flawed—completely missing, and with limited context about their lives. Where are the stories told by our people of our beautiful faces and landscapes, the wonderful coffee and chocolate that we grow, or our musical and other artistic achievements? Also missing are the myriad of success stories about Latinx doctors, nurses, caretakers, teachers, farmers, businesspeople, media and sports champions, activists, and so many more.
This is why I am especially excited about our partnership with Becky G and her radiant and positive Treslúce Beauty brand–for Latinx people by Latinx people. Through Treslúce, Becky pays homage to her Latinx heritage and elevates our voices and stories…as told by us.
In addition to launching Treslúce, Beauty for All Industries (BFA) committed $25 million to invest in and amplify Latinx- and Black-owned beauty brands. This will empower entrepreneurs in those communities to tell their own stories, and hopefully amplify others as well. These include amazing brands such as Dominique Cosmetics, BEAUTYBLENDER® and Shades by Shan. I am incredibly encouraged by these fellow-Latinx leaders who are leading the way in demonstrating the variety and richness of the Latinx experience. The platform and community we have built at BFA will continue to be a place where Latinx people—and everyone, in all communities— are supported in expressing their unique beauty and heritage.
“Nuestra Propia Historia” can be interpreted as “Our Own Story” or “Our Own History,” since the word “historia” can mean both “story” or “history”—in Spanish these are not separate words. Perhaps that idiomatic maxim demonstrates most clearly the importance of owning our story: to own our history and how it’s portrayed to the world. Remaining true to the mission of BFA and our brands, this month I urge my Latinx community: share your stories, express your complete and true selves, and do not let others speak for you.
*Citation: “Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs and Revolution in the Americas,” by Roberto Lovato.