National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 - October 15, and libraries around the state are engaging in exciting programs and activities that honor and celebrate their Latino patrons and students! But in many libraries, staff are also important members of our Latino communities - so what can we do to support our Latino colleagues and coworkers?
Our friends from the MentorNJ Latino Library Staff Meetup have put together suggestions for 11 things you can do - this month and every month - to support your Latino colleagues! Read on to see what they suggest! Bienvenidos
1. Learn 5 to 10 common library phrases in Spanish that you can use to help assist patrons. Things like, “Do you have a library card?” and “Do you need to use the computer?” may be all you need to get a patron on the right path without having to pull a Spanish-speaking staffer from another task!
2. Join a Latinx affinity group or program, even if you are not Hispanic or Latino.
3. Translation work is time-consuming and difficult. Don’t ask your staff or co-workers to translate documents if they aren’t getting compensated for that task.
4. Google Translate is nice, but it’s not always accurate - make sure you use those research skills, double-check your work, and make connections where you can!
5. Don’t make decisions about Latino communities without having any Latino feedback. Reach out to ALA-REFORMA or the MentorNJ Latino Library Staff Meet-Up Group if you need to seek input.
6. Examine your thoughts and actions, and identify the microaggressions you project. (Microaggressions are subtle, indirect forms of discrimination against a marginalized group). There are indeed microaggressions that can be harmful and promote barriers against psychological safety in and out of the workplace, and you may be projecting them without even realizing it. Artwork of various Latin American countries flags.
7. Latino foods are more than tacos, nachos, and burritos - each Latin American culture and country has its own unique cuisine! Try out something new as a way to start exploring them.
8. Celebrate Latino cultures throughout the year, not just during Hispanic Heritage month.
9. Remember there’s a history and meaning behind celebrations that have become popular in the US. Cinco de Mayo is not just a day to support the beer/tequila industry, and Dia de los Muertos is not “Mexican Halloween.” Understand what these holidays and celebrations are about before hosting programming around them.
10. When thinking about decorating your “Spanish Language” section, remember to think about all the Latin countries - flags are a great way to be inclusive and show pride!
11. Make an effort to understand basic “hispanic” history. Did you know that not everyone is comfortable being called Hispanic, and that Latinx and Latine are becoming more popular terms? That that most Latin American countries have indigenous cultures and languages that were around long before they were conquered? Or that much of Latin American history is tied closely to African history? Some basic knowledge about the background of the people you work with can go a long way in helping to make connections!
To hear more about the amazing work your Latino colleagues are doing in libraries across the state, join us at the MentorNJ Latino Library Staff meetup on the second Tuesday of each month at 10AM. All are welcome!