Many Americans think about Mexico in May because of the holiday, Cinco de Mayo. It commemorates the battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
Those who study Mexican history know that it is a much less important holiday than Mexican Independence Day, Sept. 16, 1810.
Over the years, as Cinco de Mayo was celebrated throughout the U.S., it has become a celebration of the rich culture and other contributions that Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans have brought to the U.S. Volumes have been written about these contributions and the struggles that Mexican Americans have faced in the U.S.
One area of great contributions and struggles of Mexican Americans is in the workforce. A small vignette conveyed to me by a Mexican American woman who began working in an entry level position, 40 plus years ago, in a large corporation in Texas illustrates both the obstacles faced and the positive transformations that were brought about by Mexican Americans. She said that when she first started at that company, she and other employees who were fluent in Spanish were not allowed to speak Spanish at work, even when it would help a client. Due to the efforts of individual employees (the woman who gave this example became a senior manager in the company), union representatives and the company's clientele, some years later the practice completely reversed giving preference in hiring to those who could speak Spanish. This brought about growth and success for the company but also a greater sense of community and connection among employees and clientele from diverse backgrounds.
Thanks to Ellen Stone for bringing us this message!
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