When we were young, we often learned how to group things by identifying their differences and similarities. We were wired to constantly look for those elements to understand what the world was and eventually build connections. All the wooden blocks go in this box while the stacking cups go in that box.
Now, imagine spending 20 years of your life thinking that you are one thing and then moving to another country and being told that you are something else—depending on their perspective, you are something more or something less, and that can make you feel like everything or nothing.
Then you finally meet someone that, in your head, is kind of like you because of where they are from, where they live or what language they speak. You’ve found your box! But they don’t necessarily identify themselves as what you thought you were, or with the things you are being told you are.
You are confused and wonder all over again which box you belong to, because “you need to fit into one.” There’s even more confusion when geographical controversy or historical lack of consensus continues to change the name of that box and who should be in it. There are so many terms that could define me…
Recently, I stopped thinking about this as an answer that I would eventually find, and instead as a milestone that reflects a constructive conversation that evolves with communities around the world. We should be having ongoing discussions, and we must be comfortable with being uncomfortable—with reinventing something that can speak to the hearts of the collective, coming from a place of love, respect and understanding.
The conversation itself should bring people together. We don’t need to agree on everything, but we must continue to hear each other out, educate and challenge ourselves to form connections when there’s already so much in the world that could divide us.
That’s why I’m choosing to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with my Dentsu friends at the Latinx identity group SOMOS (which translates from Spanish and Portuguese to “we are”). Not because of labels, categories or how I’m instructed to check a box, but because we are always there for one another by sharing, learning, partnering and amplifying. Because we found a home through some cultural overlap and shared experiences that makes us feel like we are not alone - that we belong.
With that in mind, our group is committed to promoting cultural education and creating opportunities for communities to move the needle forward and thrive. We seek to increase and maintain Dentsu’s ethnic diversity and attain equity and equality for Latinx people at all levels. And we’re committed to each other, celebrating who we are as individuals and as a group.
With so many variables and generational stories, everyone has a perspective on how they see the world and themselves. And that’s OK! But conversations should continue to take place, so educated perspectives evolve with the changing world around us.
So, let’s hear it for Hispanic Heritage Month, friends! As a Brazilian now living in the U.S., I’m thankful for the opportunity to continue to evolve alongside you through every difference and similarity. And I look forward to what we will continue to build, together.
Follow the official Hispanic Heritage Month playlist, curated by SOMOS, Dentsu’s affinity group.
About the author: Flavia Dechandt Araujo was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and has lived in the United States for almost eight years. A former collegiate and professional athlete, Flavia has traveled to more than half of American states and 19 countries to date, describing those experiences as amazing opportunities to learn about people, cultures and history, as well as build diverse connections that encourage one to stretch their thinking.
Flavia is a senior account executive for Mitchell, a digitally led Public Relations agency and PR flagship of dentsu.