By Juan Perez

Growing up Hispanic in America was very challenging. Many times I felt like someone who was in between worlds. I didn’t see my name on any key tags in souvenir shops. I didn’t see many people that looked like me or talked like me on TV. I didn’t really know where I fit in.

One thing I did know was that our culture, food, traditions and heroes were so rich and full of life that I wanted to share them with everyone possible. I wanted to get up on the rooftops and yell so loud and proud. I wanted to stand on every corner and let everyone see our passion, ingenuity, our flair.

Although most of my family moved to the mainland from Puerto Rico, my Abuelita (grandmother) would make sure we were proud of who we were, our little Island that has given so much, such as the Borinqueneers, a Puerto Rican regiment of the United States Army in which my  Abuelo (grandfather) had served; or Roberto Clemente, a local and global hero who gave his life to help those in need. 

It is with this orgullo (pride) and honor that I invite everyone to join the party this month. Help us celebrate. Let’s put on some salsa music, which literally translates to “the sauce” because of the flavor it adds to our lives, and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month!

Juan Perez is the director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania Carnegie Clubhouse as well as the organization’s director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.