Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Hispanic Americans and how they have influenced and contributed to American society.
Observed annually Sept. 15-Oct. 15, the month recognizes communities whose ancestors hail from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
José Totti, a supervisor specializing in substations in Alabama Power’s Transmission Maintenance organization, shares his perspective on this observance and how he celebrates his Puerto Rican heritage:
Tell us about yourself.
I’m responsible for the safe maintenance, operation and reliability of the transmission assets in the Birmingham area. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling to new places, trying new things (mostly food!) and the occasional pickup soccer.
What is your favorite thing about your culture?
The togetherness, and the capacity to help each other, shared by the Hispanic community, even with strangers. The happiness to be and belong to a group that has shared values.
How do you celebrate your heritage, both during this observance and year-round?
Sharing about my traditions and culture with those around me. Surrounded by the music, happiness, food and the festivities, especially around Christmastime. There is something special about the way family and friends come together to celebrate the festivities and eat some arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) and lechon asado (roasted pork).
What does recognizing and celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
It’s an opportunity to share and acknowledge the richness the culture brings to America and the communities we live in. We live in an interconnected world where the decisions in one part of the globe impact the rest of the world. It’s an opportunity to celebrate and honor those who have contributed and made a difference to the common good in all aspects of life, professional and humane.
What is one thing you would like others to know about the Hispanic community in Alabama?
We are just like any other culture; we may do things differently but it’s just a different perspective to achieve the same result. It is like taking a different path to reach the same mountain peak.
In your opinion, what is one of the biggest challenges the United States faces in terms of Hispanic inclusion?
Realizing the enrichment the Hispanic community brings and moving toward inclusion in all life aspects.
What advice would you give to others of Hispanic heritage?
Embrace who you are and share that uniqueness with those around you.