Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15-Oct. 15. Our Affiliate Coordinator, Oscar Espinoza, graciously shared some of his favorite things about his Mexican-American heritage and provided ideas of how we can honor this month. We recognize that Oscar is one voice and do not ask him to speak on behalf of the Hispanic American experience, but rather to share his unique story and thoughts as an individual.
Oscar Espinoza’s Story
Oscar is a child of immigrants, who came to Chicago in their twenties from a small town in the center of Mexico, near Acámbaro, in the state of Guanajuato. Both of his parents had 10 siblings, and many of them immigrated to Chicago, giving Oscar the opportunity to grow up with a large family whom he still sees most weekends.
One of Oscar’s favorite family traditions is lovingly nicknamed Grandparent-Palooza. It’s when all four of his grandparents come to Chicago for a visit. Since both of his parents were from the same town of about 500 people, his grandparents, aunts and uncles all know each other, leading to an epic family gathering. One of the dishes served is Pan de Acámbaro. A traditional Mexican bread named after the city of its origin, Acámbaro. The bread is made with a fermented dough called masa madre (mother dough). It’s decorated with a few slashes on top, then glazed before baking. However, Oscar admitted he thinks this famous bread is a little overrated, too dry for his taste!
Oscar joined Perspectives over two years ago working in the Access Center, our 24/7 counseling and resource hub, and is consistently recognized as a hard worker. He says that his work ethic comes from his parents and their immigrant mentality. They have worked hard for everything they have and share that pride in hard work with their son. Since joining Perspectives, it has been Oscar’s turn to be the teacher. As he has learned more about mental health, he has made an effort to talk about the importance of mental health and self-care with the elders in his family.
Ideas for Honoring Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Mental Health Pioneers
Oscar asked us to highlight Hispanic pioneers in the mental health space. There are numerous people to choose from, so we are highlighting two here and then linking to other resources.
George I. Sanchez (1906-1972)
A Mexican-American Educational Psychologist known for his work advocating for the equal education, testing and mental health of Mexican-American students. He was the first to argue that IQ tests lacked validity when administered to Mexican-American children. This is because these children did not have the same life experiences or English language proficiency as their American classmates. In 1941 he became the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). During this time, he was an incessant activist for the equality of minorities, especially minority children in public education.
Oliva Espin (1938-Present)
A Cuban American counseling psychologist known for contributions to feminist therapy and immigration studies. As well as for her advocacy on behalf of refugee women to get them mental health services. Throughout her career, Espin bravely produced publications that challenged LGBTQ stigma. Laying the groundwork for many other Latino/a psychologists to do the same. For her, spirituality did not negate sexual orientation/gender identification, it instead strengthened her self-care and her psychotherapeutic practices.
Mexican-American Food and Art in Chicago
Oscar also provided recommendations of places to visit in Chicago, where Perspectives is Headquartered, to experience Mexican-American food, treats, and art. When you visit, we recommend following current CDC guidelines.
- La Villa or Little Village Neighborhood – Experience a slice of Mexican-American life in this Southside Chicago neighborhood.
- Taquerias Los Gallos – For an authentic treat go here and order the Carne En Su Jugo or meat cooked in its juices.
- Paco’s Tacos – There are two locations, but Oscar’s favorite is on Archer Ave.
Thanks to Oscar for his time and ideas on how we can honor Hispanic Heritage Month.
Contact us if you want to learn more about our services, resources, and network of consultants and mental health providers.