Twitter is where inclusion lives; this is what we stated on our blog at the beginning of this year, sharing the work we are doing towards inclusion and staying true to our 2015 commitment to a more diverse Twitter. We realized early on that in order to better serve our users, the makeup of our company has to reflect not only the openness and global nature of the platform, but also the diversity of our users. Living up to this responsibility, and to continue engaging with our community, we joined this year’s #HispanicHeritage celebration.
Every year, from September 15th to October 15th, the United States celebrates the positive influence that the Hispanic community has had on American society. This year, although the Hispanic community is going through tumultuous political times, this known vibrant community can’t be stopped from celebrating its roots and contributions to US culture. This is, however, without setting aside its most pressing issue: immigration reforms.
Around the company, the theme ran true with various events. San Francisco, hosted a Fireside Chat with the amazing Latinx advocate and former White House aid to President Obama, Alejandra Campoverdi (@ACampoverdi). New York, will be hosting a “Latinx Marketing Panel” on October 5th, to discuss the importance and influence of this growing audience for marketers. These and other gatherings, panels, dance classes, and movie screenings focusing on Hispanic culture will be happening throughout this month.
@TwitterDC we also joined this celebration. We started by supporting our partner, the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts on their annual Quorum Call and Noche de Gala, to support the advancement of Latinos in the media, telecommunications, and entertainment industries. Likewise, to keep supporting our non-profit partners and grow our community, we hosted an all-Spanish – first one in DC – “Safety and Best Practices” training for organizations working with the Hispanic community in DC.
These days when we think about Hispanics in the US, we no only think about food, music, telenovelas, and the Spanish language; we also think about immigration reform. For this reason, the highlight of our event was a panel hosted with the purpose of discussing the influence of Hispanics in US culture, media, and politics. Yet, the conversation focused on immigration, and the issues that immigrants, especially those from Latin America, are currently facing.
We had the pleasure of hosting Michelin Awarded Chef José Andrés (@ChefJoseAndres); seven-time Emmy Award Winner and White House Correspondent for Univision, Janet Rodríguez (@JanRodriguezTV); and senior advisor at the Carlos Slim Foundation and former Mayor of Nogales, Arizona, Marco Lopez (@1MarcoLopez).
The discussion began with our panelists sharing their stories of how they ‘crossed the border’, which were not the dramatic and nostalgic tales that you would expect. Janet Rodriguez came from Cuba when she was 12, and she remembers getting ready for this move through her young years in Cuba. Marco Lopez grew up right on the border, between Nogales, Sonora and Nogales, Arizona and his move to ‘the other side’ felt almost natural. José Andrés on his part came from Spain as a cook, and although he faced some paperwork issues, he was finally sponsored and obtained his Green Card.
Our panelists, as many other Hispanics, have stayed close to their roots, and used the different means they have, given their profession and networks, to support the later generations of immigrants that have come to the US.
Getting more specific on their areas of expertise, Janet Rodriguez highlighted the importance of accurate and neutral journalism: “You have to be really careful and responsible, and aware that these news affect real people's lives.” She also mentioned the importance of social media, as a tool for immigrants and especially now for DACA kids to raise their voices and tell their stories.
Speaking about the influence of immigrants in the US, José Andrés pointed out that there was no other place where you could find more diversity than in the United States: “It is truly a melting pot and it's a beautiful thing to see. America embraces immigration, it has become what it is because it is a nation of immigrants that embraces differences. Let's put aside the negative voices that say immigration is not good.”
To close up, Marco Lopez reminded us that, although the topic of immigration reform is what’s happening, Hispanic heritage is not about pinpointing the issues of the Hispanic community in the US. It is about celebrating Hispanic tradition and culture, and that “immigration is not what defines us.”
Twitter allows us to learn, tell stories, and connect, and there isn’t a more appropriate time to highlight these attributes than during a month to celebrate the cultural diversity that makes us who we are. As we approach the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, we hope the public and open nature of our platform keeps empowering voices, and provoking a greater understanding of the needs and expectations of our society “not in spite of our differences, but because of them.” (Building a more inclusive Twitter in 2016).