Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge c. 2000. Photo by Jay Sillings.

What We’re Reading: Heritage and history

Medium Staff
Published in
5 min readSep 15, 2023


Hey everybody,

Where I live in Chicago, everybody is aware when Mexican Independence Day approaches. In fact, I mark it on my calendar. My neighbors fly green, white, and red flags from their porches, attach flags to their car hoods, and even rock color-coordinated Air Jordans to celebrate the work of Father Hidalgo back on September 16, 1810. The park districts hold parties, libraries highlight historical books, elementary schools hold productions, the city hosts an enormous parade — the whole shebang.

For those unfamiliar with the Chi, it might be surprising to learn that the Second City’s second largest population is Latino and of those, the majority are Mexican-Americans or of Mexican ancestry. That Mexican Independence Day falls within the month-long U.S celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month is appropriate; after all, it’s good for everyone to learn more about our shared humanity, and our hopes, values, and dreams.

The month starts on September 15 to commemorate a variety of Latin American countries that celebrate their independence around that date, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Chile. Back in 1988, former U.S. President Ronald Reagan facilitated turning Hispanic Heritage Week into Hispanic Heritage Month.

Many writers on Medium embrace this idea of celebrating freedom while sharing stories and histories that interrogate — or explain — heritage and various levels of intersectionality.

Argentine-born writer and diversity and inclusion expert dani herrera writes of the debate over the use of Latine, Latinx, Latino or Hispanic. “Our community is as beautiful as it is expansive and diverse. And yes, every single one of these identities is valid.”

Author María Ochoa PhD details how she feels about being an aging Chicana. At 72, she no longer hides her years. “I’m happy to be in this band of sisters, these aging American-Mexican women,” she writes, “these viejitas who value and revel in the process of growing old.”

And author David Bowles, the creator of powerhouse Latinx book publishing initiative #DignidadLiteraria, often writes both fiction and nonfiction on his Medium page. Once, he addressed the idea of Mexican Futurism as a genre in science fiction and fantasy.

I look forward to learning from those of you who share your own stories of heritage and identity on Medium. Perhaps this is a memory of the old country, or a tale proffered by great-great-grandma. Perhaps you’ve imagined a sci-fi future in a story that we all should be reading. Is that you? Feel free to tag me so I can read your stories.

Also, shanah tovah umetukah to those who celebrate Rosh Hashanah.

See you on Medium.

Adrienne Gibbs
Director of Creator Growth @ Medium

Weekend Reads

How 9/11 Taught Me To Stop Saying ‘Everything Will Be Okay’” by Jay Sillings, emergency room physician

I’m grateful for the crying woman’s clarity of mind in that moment of chaos and terror. She taught me the absurdity of “everything will be okay.” Even in less acute circumstances when that prediction may eventually be true, it’s at best a dismissive comment. Something we say to coddle our own discomfort with the emotions of whomever we’re talking with. Ultimately, it’s a missed opportunity to express empathy and genuine support.

Debunking the Myths Surrounding El Vejigante Puertorriqueño” by Lola Rosario, journalist and art enthusiast, in Ilusiones

Among the many symbols representative of our rich cultural heritage, one of the most celebrated is without question, El Vejigante. Some say the term is derived from a combination of la vejiga (bladder) and el gigante (giant), the English equivalent would be Giant Bladder [Person]. Sounds awkward in translation, so we simply keep the original name.

Image: La Comparsa, by Painter & Sculptor, Samuel Lind Hernández

Why It Doesn’t Really Matter What You Wear to Temple” by Rabbi Nikki DeBlosi (she/her), teacher, speaker, and rabbi

Minhag hamakom, the custom of a place, does matter, and I understand that some Jewish institutions carry particular dress codes. But I am a Reform Jew, a feminist, a queer person, a parent, and a rabbi, and when it comes to how anyone “should” dress to observe the High Holy Days, there are values that matter much more to me than what’s “appropriate.” Like presence. Like community. Like inclusion. Like belonging.

The New Wham! Film Speaks Loudly in Careful Whispers” by Tom Cendejas aka The Couch Tamale, film reviewer

It’s been stirred in me, and I suspect many others by the new documentary “Wham!” on Netflix. Though “Wham!” stays focused only on the beginning-to-end of the titular pop duo, it doubles as George Michael’s “birth of the artist” origin story, and the bubbly joy of the film leaves an aftertaste of melancholy when the credits roll, because we know how the story ends. George Michael fans are always left in a state of “what might have been.”

A G20 Drama: No Agreement on Ending Fossil Fuels” by Enrique Dans, Professor of Innovation at IE Business School in Enrique Dans

We must grasp this unequivocal truth: the choice is either to set a date for ending fossil fuels with all its implications or live in an increasingly destabilized world where hurricanes, tornadoes, heatwaves, and wildfires become more frequent, endangering our lives and property. It’s a sinister lottery with plenty of fools saying, “It won’t happen to me,” all while urging their governments not to turn off the tap of the foul-smelling liquid they use to artificially sustain their way of life.

IMAGE: E. Dans (CC0)

No, Immigrants Don’t Get $2,200/Month” by Arturo Dominguez, freelance writer and journalist

Their misinformation tactics are meant to distract from the fact that immigrants are huge contributors to our social programs. They pay into programs like Medicaid and Social Security but are often unqualified to receive them because of age and ineligibility. The likelihood of many retiring in other countries also helps bolster the positive financial outcome.

Photo by Manny Becerra on Unsplash

What have you been reading this week? Let us know in the responses.

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What We’re Reading” is a weekly roundup of insightful stories and perspectives from across Medium. Browse previous editions here.