September 15 kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month, a celebration of the impact that Hispanic and Latino culture has had on virtually every facet of American life. With leaders in the government (there are currently 41 Latinos in the U.S. Congress!), and across business, science, sports and arts industries, Hispanics play an integral role in shaping the American experience. This is due, in part, to the community’s rapid population growth. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic and Latino population is the most significant minority group within the country - comprising around 60 million people!

As many of you may know, I am a proud Latina woman. My single mother emigrated to the U.S. from Peru when I was young, because she wanted to provide a better future for my sister and I. My mother’s courage and selflessness taught me to embrace the multitude of opportunities I’ve found in America - but as one of my suppliers from Ecuador puts it, “we can’t forget where we come from.” That thinking has helped drive Luna’s mission to empower Peruvian and Ecuadorian artisans by showcasing their unique craft to the U.S. market.

I believe Hispanic Heritage Month is more than just a “month” - it’s an always-on celebration of Hispanic heritage and of our determination to succeed. Let’s champion where we’ve come from and where we’re going … together! With that said, and in celebration of this month, I wanted to share just a few of the many ways in which Latinos and Hispanics have made a mark upon American culture.

  1. Music: In the 20th century, Brazilian and Afro-Caribbean rhythms helped shape the sounds of the jazz genre. More recently, Hispanic and Latin American musicians like Jennifer Lopez, Selena and Ricky Martin shot to fame, while reggaeton took American airwaves by storm, crossing over into mainstream hits. We all remember Despacito as the summer jam of ‘17, but it was Justin Bieber’s duet with Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi that truly underscored the song’s popularity.
  2. Sports: Hispanic superstars like David Ortiz and Miguel Cabrera paved the way for future generations of baseballers. And thanks to the availability of Spanish-language TV - which allows Hispanic and Latin Americas to watch soccer - there’s been increased availability into the sport, boosting its overall growth in popularity.
  3. Cuisine: Mexican food (and its Americanized cousin, Tex-Mex) have long been culinary staples in American society. Tortilla chips and salsa are one of the highest-selling snack foods in recent years - but other Latin American food varieties continue to gain popularity, too. Colombian arepa stands are ever-present at street fairs and ceviche - a traditional Peruvian dish - is now considered a delicacy by many Americans.
  4. Politics: Last year, 41 Latinos were elected to the U.S. Congress, marking a new historical record. Thanks to this milestone achievement, Latino voters wield increasing influence. According to the Pew Research Center, the 2020 election will be the first in which Hispanics represent the largest minority group of the electorate (with a little more than 13% of eligible voters).

We’re so proud of these, and all the future accomplishments to come. May we all work towards a brighter, innovative and more diverse future.

Luna Sundara