Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter: Hispanic Heritage Month

Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope

Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter: Hispanic Heritage Month

Hola PMG familia! This D&I Newsletter is dedicated to Hispanic Heritage Month celebrating the history and contributions Hispanic peoples have made to our country. In this month's newsletter, we spotlight some of our Hispanic team members, and how they share their culture in the workplace. There is a great amount of diversity within Latin culture, with over 33 countries making up Latin America. Each brings its own contributions to the American tapestry. Please read below to learn more about the history of Hispanic Heritage Month and our team spotlights!


What is Hispanic Heritage Month?

Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration of the history and culture of the U.S. Latino and Hispanic communities. The event takes place from September 15th to October 15th and commemorates how those communities have influenced and contributed to American society at large.

How Did It Get Started?

Hispanic Heritage Month began as a commemorative week when it was first introduced in June 1968 by California Congressman George E. Brown. The push to recognize the contributions of the Latino community had gained momentum throughout the 1960s when the civil rights movement was at its peak and there was a growing awareness of the United States' multicultural identities.

Brown, who represented East Los Angeles and a large portion of the San Gabriel Valley—both heavily populated by members of the Hispanic and Latino communities—wanted to recognize the role played by those communities throughout American history.

On September 17th, 1968, Congress passed a law, officially authorizing and requesting the president to issue an annual proclamation declaring September 15th or 16th the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Week and called upon the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities. President Lyndon B. Johnson also issued the first Hispanic Heritage Week presidential proclamation on that same day.

From 1968 until 1988, Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan all issued yearly proclamations, setting aside a week to honor Hispanic Americans. In 1987 U.S. Representative Esteban E. Torres of California proposed expanding the observance to cover its current 31-day period. Torres wanted more time so that the nation could properly observe and coordinate events and activities to celebrate Hispanic culture and achievement.

What is the legacy of Hispanic Heritage Month?

Hispanic and Latino culture is increasing in everyday life and mainstream through music, food, dance but also in science, art, economics, politics, and other fields. Hispanics and Latinos have contributed, and continue to contribute, exponentially, to the development of the United States.

The day of September 15th is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16th and September 18th, respectively. Columbus Day or Día de la Raza is celebrated on October 12th.

It is important that we take a moment to highlight the diverse cultures that make up the Hispanic and Latino experience, honor the trials and tribulations of past generations and acknowledge the contributions this community has made.

Resources & Recommendations

Through the collective efforts and contributions of several Palisades Media Group team members, the D&I team has selected a handful of artists, content, and other resources to highlight for Hispanic Heritage Month

The Distance Between Us (Novel) by Reyna Grande

What It's About: It is a memoir written by a Latina woman about her immigration experience and life in the US.
Why is it recommended?: “I would encourage anyone who has read American Dirt to read this memoir. I actually ended up enjoying it more than American Dirt since it showcased a real-life experience and supported a Latina author. This experience has made me more mindful of diversity and authenticity when choosing the books I read.” - Danielle Mentes

Rain of Gold (Novel) by Victor Villaseñor

What It's About: The true story of the author's family as they immigrated to California from Mexico. The story highlights three generations as they flee Mexico during the Mexican Revolution and then settle in California where they learn to overcome poverty, prejudice, and economic exploitation.  
Why is it recommended?: “As a first-generation Mexican-American, this book really reminded me of my family. You get to see the journey this family takes and how important culture and family are. I also love that you are able to put faces to these wonderful stories since the author adds real family photos. You get to watch the family change and grow.”- Roxana Valdez

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Novel) by Erika L. Sanchez

What It's About: A coming-of-age story about a first-generation teenage girl who feels like she doesn’t fit in with her Mexican culture and American culture. The book focuses on her immigrant parents, their poverty struggles, the shaming and secrets kept within the family, and feeling like you didn’t belong in your own home.
Why is it recommended?: “This book is not your typical coming of age story. After the death of her sister, Julia has to navigate life as she struggles to live up to the memory of her “perfect” sister and feeling like she is constantly disappointing her family since she is not following the traditional footsteps they want her to. This book is equal parts funny and sad.”- Roxana Valdez

Celia Cruz (Musician)

Where to Hear Her Music: Spotify, Pandora, & YouTube
About the Artist:  “The indisputable queen of salsa, Celia brought a larger-than-life, almost matriarchal persona to a male-dominated genre during the Fania era. With raw, undiluted vocal prowess, a chispa (spark) that spread like a solar flare, and an innate sense of rhythm and swing informed by her African ancestors, Celia was a star unlike any other. To this day, songs like La Vida Es Un Carnaval are a testament to her place in musical history.” - Gigi Martín-Duarte
Why it's Important: Celia Cruz helped popularize salsa music in the United States in a career that lasted over 60 years.  She is one of the few women to succeed in the male-dominated world of salsa music. She blended Cuban and other Afro-Latino music and won five Grammy Awards during her long career.

Fun Facts

Key Definitions

  • Hispanic: Hispanic refers to people from Spain or countries with a Spanish-speaking origin. For example, Hispanic would include people from Spain and not Brazil where Portuguese is predominantly spoken.
  • Latino/a: Latino/a refers to people of Latin American descent living in the United States. This term includes Brazilians and excludes people from Spain.
  • Latinx/ Latine: In recent years, the term Latinx has gained popularity. Latinx is the gender-neutral or non-binary term for Latino/Latina and pushes back on the gendered language to be more inclusive.

Fun Facts about Hispanic Heritage Month

  1. The term Hispanic or Latino (or the more recent term Latinx) refers to a person’s culture or origin—regardless of race.
  2. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationwide through festivals, parades, art shows, conferences, community gatherings, and much more.
  3. The U.S. Hispanic population reached 60.6 million in 2019, according to Pew Research Center. Hispanic Americans are the nation’s second-fastest-growing racial or ethnic group after Asian Americans. Hispanics are the largest ethnic minority in the US while Blacks/African Americans are the largest racial minority
  4. Twelve states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas—had a population of 1 million or more Hispanic residents in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  5. The United States has the 2nd largest population of Hispanic people in the world, second only Mexico.
  6. Americans of Mexican origin account for more than 60 percent (37 million people) of the nation’s overall Hispanic population as of 2018, per Pew Research Center. The next largest group are Americans of Puerto Rican origin with 5.8 million people.
  7. Americans with origins in Cuba, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Colombia, and Honduras each have a population of roughly 1 million or more as of 2018.
  8. The fastest population growth among Latino Americans is from people with origins in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Honduras, and Guatemala.

PMG Diversity Spotlight

Yesenia Cruz
Associate Manager, People & Talent

Familia, Comida, Música … these are the three major influences that her Salvadoran ancestry has had on Yesenia Cruz.  Being together as a family, celebrating with special dishes handed down from mother to daughter, and lots of music and dancing is Yesenia’s cultural heritage. Born in Los Angeles of Salvadoran parents, Yesenia is proud to carry on the traditions of her family yet has been eager to break the mold.

Her father comes from the small town of Santa Rosa de Lima on the El Salvador/Honduras border, and her mother from the capital city of San Salvador in the northern part of the country close to Guatemala.  Both were hard workers and grew up without the benefit of modern conveniences or the ability to attend school on a regular basis.  Yesenia spent summers every year with relatives on her dad’s side of the family on their rural cattle ranch. Her dad, one of 10 siblings, only attended school through 2nd grade when he was needed to help with the cattle and ranch chores to provide for the family.  Yesenia loved the beautiful ranch in the countryside, even though it was primitive with no running water or electricity.  She feels it made her more appreciative of all the conveniences we have here in this country.

Her dad eventually left the ranch and began work as a delivery truck driver for Coca Cola. It was at this time he met his future bride while she was working in a restaurant in town. But they did not marry until a few years later once both had made their separate ways to the U.S.

The family settled in Los Angeles near downtown (mid-city).  There were four children, Yesenia being the second sister, followed by her brother and a younger sister.  They spent most of their growing up years living in Korea town, having located there when Yesenia was 8 years old.  Uncles and cousins lived with them, too, creating a large extended family, the only Hispanic family on the block. But she spoke of the shared values of the Hispanic and Korean families, primarily related to close family ties between generations, with the older family members caring for and interacting with the children.

Yesenia found it difficult experiencing life growing up in “two worlds” – that of life as a child of Salvadorans with the Spanish language spoken in the home – and that of school and life in the U.S. where she learned to speak English. The kids became the translators for the adults, including parent-teacher conferences which Yesenia spoke of as awkward – it couldn’t have been easy for her and her siblings to translate their own student-performance feedback to their parents!  She expressed her struggle growing up with parents not from this country, and a sense of “complacency” that came with being in this circumstance where she felt a lack of support due to language and cultural barriers.  She was determined to break the mold and move away from this sense of complacency.  

Yesenia and her two younger siblings chose higher education to pursue dreams that seemed unattainable in her early years.  Her younger sister became an engineer, and her brother an architect.  And, of course, she herself is our Human Resources Manager here at Palisades!

Circling back to Family, Food, and Music, Yesenia easily places family at the top of her list when it comes to maintaining her Salvadoran roots.  She loves being together with family members, even if they can be stubborn and unable to clear the air at times. They still love being together and wouldn’t trade it for anything.  There is always music and dancing at family gatherings, bringing forth fond memories from her childhood years. Food, in the form of special dishes, is always plentiful at these gatherings. Of the many savory dishes Yesenia likes to prepare, her favorite is the national dish of El Salvador, the Pupusa.  

The Pupusa is a griddle cake made from corn masa stuffed with ground or shredded pork, refried beans, and shredded cheese.  Yesenia serves hers with sides of pickled cabbage and homemade sauce.

Yesenia’s love of cooking includes using garden-fresh ingredients, much like the contemporary residents of El Salvador.  She has a full garden of fresh vegetables and herbs in her backyard, including tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, zucchini, strawberries, rosemary, cilantro, parsley, mint, and basil. And she hasn’t lost her love of the beautiful colors and fabrics of the native costumes of El Salvador.  In fact, she learned to sew on her own after observing the beautiful dresses her relatives made for family members, and when she desired to clothe her Barbies in beautiful fashions too!

It is with pleasure that I highlight the cultural heritage of my friend and partner in HR, Yesenia Cruz. Her desire to continue the traditions of her rich Salvadoran background and her personal desire to succeed are an inspiration to all who meet her!

Recruitment, Mentorship & Retention

Thank you Compton College Interns!

Since our last announcement in the June D&I Newsletter, we officially concluded our inaugural internship program with Compton College this past August. Over the course of the three months, students were able to experience an immersive program across various departments and clients, providing them a hands-on work experience within the agency world.

We are excited to announce that three of the interns - Claudia, Guillermo, and Yedid - are extending their internships here at PMG! We asked each of them to share a few highlights from their overall internship experience, which you can see below!

Claudia Gallardo - Netflix Strategy
“Hi! My name is Claudia Gallardo, and I am a student at Compton College. I had the wonderful opportunity to be an intern here at Palisades Media Group over the summer. It was my first internship, so I was excited and had high expectations for what would come out of my time spent with the agency. Obviously, PMG went above and beyond what I was expecting. I came into the agency knowing absolutely nothing and have learned so much over the course of the Summer Internship. This opportunity not only got my foot in the door but motivated me to keep learning more and expanding my knowledge in media and advertising. The positive and welcoming attitudes of everyone on the team delighted me to be a part of such a superb company, as they made sure we felt supported, seen, and heard. I am grateful that I got the opportunity to extend my time here, post the summer internship, and invest more time with Palisades. I look forward to all the achievements that are to come from being a part of the PMG team!”

Guillermo Rubio - Contraband
"Hello, I'm Guillermo and the creative intern here at Palisades. The experience here has been amazing. I've learned so much from the best of the best here. Both Matt Lundstrom and Mark Pacis have helped me grow in creative design. This experience really has helped me think outside the box and I can't thank Matt, Mark, and Palisades Media enough for this opportunity. Stay awesome all."

Yedid Delgado - Netflix Digital
“My summer internship with Palisades Media Group has been an ongoing positive learning experience as well as priceless. Internships like these are scarce and incredibly hard to come by especially for students like me who are coming from different cultural and educational backgrounds. I am extremely grateful for being given this opportunity and would push other Compton College students to take advantage of all opportunities during their educational journey. I was welcomed with open arms and LOVE my digital Netflix team and would 100% like to return.”