Having people acknowledge your presence and say nice things about you only on your birthday is insulting and marginalizing, even if meant to be celebratory. That’s exactly what we do when we highlight the work and contributions of people of color only or mostly during designated months like Hispanic Heritage Month—you know, the month we’re currently in.
As teachers celebrate culture makers of Latin descent in their classrooms and assembly halls this month, it is critical that they acknowledge their unique role as cultural curators — that they are the gatekeepers of culture and determiners of what their students will consider “normal” and “abnormal.” They are the ones who help their students interpret history, question ideas, and the premises upon which those ideas are based. They are the ones who decide what (if anything) will be considered “other.” In this role, they have the power to create a culture where cultural diversity is the norm, and exclusion is not.
If our classrooms (and by extension our culture), are to become representative of the intricately diverse tapestry that is the United States of America, then educators must infuse a diversity of artists, authors and culture makers into their curriculum. They must be conscientious cultural curators for their classrooms. They can begin this Hispanic Heritage Month, but the work must continue all year long.
To help lead our conversation, I interviewed three culture makers: professor and author Gilda Ochoa, author and director Marjuan Canady and award-winning writer and performer Rick Najera, to give their perspectives on why diversity matters, its impact on students and how educators can celebrate the spirit of Hispanic Heritage Month in a way that is truly celebratory.
Read more at Medium’s Synapse.