Hispanic Heritage Month with Miguel Amador
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage with Miguel Amador
National Hispanic Heritage Month is underway and runs through October 15. It’s that time of year where we get to celebrate the history, culture, contributions, and the importance of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we will hear from a handful of our Velocity team members who volunteered to share their personal stories on topics that will touch upon Hispanic/Latino traditions, values, culture, cuisines, and more.
The next story in our “Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month” series comes from Miguel Amador, dispatch supervisor, field operations, who joined Velocity in 2017.
Hi Miguel, tell us about yourself.
A little bit about me and my family’s background, in the late sixties, my mother and father moved from Puerto Rico to New York for better job opportunities. My father’s side of the family originally migrated to Puerto Rico from El Hierro (a small island located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa, which is a Spanish territory). My mother’s side of the family lived more in the country/tropical rainforest region of Puerto Rico.
Do you have any favorite Hispanic heritage family recipes that you would like to share?
One of the best dishes would have to be Mofongo! Mofongo is a Puerto Rican dish with fried plantains as its main ingredient. Plantains are picked green and then fried and mashed with salt, garlic, broth, and olive oil in a wooden pilón (Puerto Rican wood mortar with a wooden pestle used as a kitchen tool to mash up ingredients). The goal is to produce a tight ball of mashed plantains that will absorb the other ingredients with either chicharrón (pork cracklings) or bits of bacon inside. It is traditionally served with fried meat and chicken broth soup. Particular flavors result from variations that include vegetables, chicken, shrimp, beef, or octopus packed inside or around the plantain.
Do you have any eating habits/rituals that are specific to your culture?
Puerto Rico takes great pride in its history and diverse culture. Once a year, the entire family gets together to have a giant pig roast, which is very common in Puerto Rico.
What is a Hispanic tradition you wish to pass down that your parents/ relatives have passed down to you?
Since I am fluent in Spanish, I am thankful to be able to teach my children the Spanish language.
What is the most important (or most celebrated) holiday of your culture?
Christmastime is our most celebrated time. In Puerto Rico, we also celebrate el Día de Reyes. Each year, on January 6, we celebrate el Día de Reyes (Three Kings Day), commemorating the Three Wise Men’s visit to Jesus after his birth. We celebrate the Christmas holiday a lot longer (than most), which makes the family feel closer. We also have Parrandas during this time, which is very similar to Christmas Carols. After you sing, the family invites you into their home for food and drinks.
Why is Hispanic Heritage Month so important to you?
Hispanic Heritage Month is very important to me because it shows just how far we have come as a society to celebrate our unique cultures. It’s truly a great opportunity to highlight the many contributions Hispanics and Latinos have made that have influenced American culture.
How do you honor/celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
To me, being Hispanic means having the opportunity to live with extended family, celebrating everything with delicious food, and enjoying our culture and heritage. Every day, I am proud to express my Puerto Rican heritage, and I want to see a bright future for all Hispanics.
Who are some famous Hispanic/Latino-American musicians, artists, writers, and actors? How have they impacted U.S. culture?
Famous Hispanic/Latino artists who are Puerto Rican or of Puerto Rican descent include Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, and Benicio del Toro. These celebrities have impacted United States culture and have significantly influenced movies, music, clothing, and much more.
Have you experienced a cultural stereotype, challenge, or bias? Can you share your experience(s)?
I have not personally experienced this; however, my mom did have these challenges. My mother is Afro-Puerto Rican. Puerto Rican culture is a combination of Taíno (indigenous people of the Caribbean), Spanish, and African cultures. When she first came to the United States from Puerto Rico, she experienced discrimination around her skin color.
What advice do you have for Latinos and Hispanics that may have experienced cultural stereotypes, challenges, or biases?
My advice is never to let anything hold you down. Be proud of who you are and where you come from. Continue working towards reaching your goals and achieving success.
How can Velocity be more inclusive and support our Hispanic/Latino team members?
On days typically celebrated amongst different Hispanic cultures, I think it would be great to celebrate Hispanic heritage at Velocity with Caribbean food trucks.
Thank you, Miguel, for sharing your story with us. As you know, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) are central to Velocity’s purpose and core values – and we are committed to these across all levels and areas of the company. We’re incredibly proud of all of our team members. We are dedicated to ensuring that Velocity is a place of inclusiveness and an environment where all of our team members feel comfortable being themselves and supported.
Let’s continue to celebrate, educate and share the rich history and traditions of Hispanic/Latino culture. Here are a few resources to better acquaint yourself with organizations that support the Hispanic/Latino community:
Hispanic Heritage Foundation identifies, inspires, prepares, and connects Latino Leaders in the community, classroom, and workforce.
UnidosUS serves the Hispanic community through research, policy analysis, advocacy efforts, and program work in communities nationwide. They partner with affiliates across the country to serve millions of Latinos in the areas of civic engagement, civil rights and immigration, education, workforce, and the economy, health, and housing.
Council for Latino Workplace Equity fosters workplace equity for Latino talent and seeks inclusion and opportunity for Latino leaders to claim their place at the table.
Be sure to check out more stories honoring Hispanic Heritage Month from our fellow Velocity team members Maria Martinez and Hector Orrala Ochoa.