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• Oct 11, 2023

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15. It is a time to focus on sharing stories and providing opportunities to increase understanding and acceptance of the Hispanic community as TD Bank honors their vital contributions.

In the United States, Hispanic and Latino individuals are sometimes considered a group with a singular identity. That does not accurately describe the amazing diversity that makes up this community, which includes individuals from a multitude of races, countries of origin, and number of family generations that have lived in the U.S.

"The situation and history of each country is different," said Alberto Vasallo III, President and CEO of El Mundo Boston, a media company focused on the Latino community and a TD Bank customer. "So are the skin tones and political ideologies. I always say when you get five Latinos in a room, you can have six different opinions."

In 2020, the U.S. Hispanic population reached 62.1 million or 19%, making it the nation’s second largest ethnic group, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. It is also the fastest growing population in the country. Most of this population was born in the United States, and that share is projected to continue to increase.

"I feel like everyone is embracing their culture so differently now," said Bianca Otero, a TD Bank Store Manager in the Philadelphia region, whose parents are Mexican and Puerto Rican. "There is a proudness. No matter where you're from, no matter what you look like, we're all the same, but we're also different. I think that it's definitely going to be evolving even more in the future."

It should be noted that Hispanic and Latino are terms often used interchangeably. But the actual definitions are different. A Latino person is one whose origins are in Latin America, including Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South America, or Central America, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Hispanic is used to identify a person descended from Spanish-speaking populations, according to NIH. Most people with Brazilian origins are considered Latino, but not Hispanic, because Portuguese is the main language in that country. Latinx is a newer, non-gendered term in comparison to gendered terms like Latino or Latina.

A major cultural change in the United States is that the percentage of Hispanic individuals who speak Spanish at home declined from 78% in 2000 to 68% in 2021, according to Pew Research. Among the U.S. born, this number has decreased from 66% to 55%. Nearly all Latino immigrants (93% in 2021) say they speak their native language at home.

A little bit of history

Spanish-speaking people have played a significant role in the United States since Juan Ponce de León of Spain became the first European to land in the continental United States in 1513 in Florida. Spanish explorers were also the first Europeans to reach the Appalachian Mountains, the Mississippi River, the Grand Canyon, and the Great Plains.

During the 1940s, there was a growing need for agricultural workers, which drew many Puerto Ricans to the mainland, and later to Hawaii.

The federal government started a program called "Braceros" to give work visas to Mexicans to work on farms, according to Jorge Arteta, a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Romance Languages and Literature at Harvard University. This program grew enormously after World War II, when many returning U.S. veterans moved to cities and the suburbs because they received federal assistance for education and housing. Subsequently, the need for more farm laborers gave more opportunities for Mexican nationals to work in the United States, and for them and their children born in the U.S. to become citizens.

The migration from Latin American countries exploded, starting in the 1960s from Cuba after the revolution. In the 1970s, Cold War dictatorships in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Chile, along with the Central American wars in the 1980s in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, spurred significant migration as well.

Today, Venezuelans, Guatemalans, and Hondurans are the leading Latin countries of origin if immigrants in the U.S., mostly due to economic and political strife.

What does it all mean - TD colleagues tell their stories

Watch the video below.

Like so many Latino individuals, Joelle Dalby, a TD Bank Manager in Business Management in Greenville, South Carolina, has a "unique background and family."

Joelle was born and raised in the United States with a biological father who was from Puerto Rican descent and mother who was German. Her adopted parents were of Portuguese, German, and Irish descent. Her husband comes from a Cuban and Jamaican family.

"It's an honor to be considered, Latino and Hispanic,” she said. "It's very special to me and something that resonates in my family."

Joelle has passed down the traditions by having her children learn a second language and cooking the food of her family's native lands, such as Portuguese donuts. She wants to share the wonderful memories that were created when she was a youngster, such as making these donuts with her late father.

"I want to educate them on their ancestry and where our grandparents and great grandparents came from," she explained. "I want to continue those religious and cultural celebrations."

Bianca has been able to use the lessons of growing up with a Mexican mother and Puerto Rican father in all aspects of her life, including work.

"I was raised in the United States and have always seen the culture of my two parents," she said. "The cultures are very different, and I've been able to kind of incorporate that at work.

It was very impactful back in the day even just hearing my parents’ story and seeing how we evolved from the field workers to working in corporate America.”

Being able to bring your true self to work is what drew Bianca to TD.

"It stood out to me that I can be my authentic self. I can bring myself, my culture, just who I am as a person," she explained. "That means everything to me."

Want to learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month?
A Trusted Voice for New England's Latino Community
Hispanic Heritage Month: A Leap of Faith and Hard Work Are Keys to Success
Hispanic Heritage Month: One Man's Mission to Help Immigrants Learn About Critical Financial Skills

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