Heritage months wear out Cleveland-area minority groups

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) – Selina Pagan and her team at the Young Latino Network were pushed to the brink last month as they participated in more than 30 events to educate others about Latino culture.

“This problem around heritage months and the exhaustion of people every year when their month arrives is nothing new,” Pagan explained. “I think the social climate now allows us to have these real conversations that we couldn’t have in the past and I’m really grateful for that.”

Pagan says that from community requests to private organizations, his team barely had time to celebrate their culture, which is why these months were created.

“It’s important that we explain why it is exhausting for Indigenous people and people of color to have to navigate their Heritage Month in a way that educates someone,” said Pagan. “We have to reframe the way we think about these things to make sure they’re done in a way that isn’t as harmful.”

But how do we do it? Share our cultures, while allowing everyone to party?

Erica Merritt, who has dedicated her life to equity and the inclusion of diversity, says there is no one way to answer this question.

“Although I think we should be curious about our respective cultures,” Merritt said. “We cannot give one group of people the emotional work of educating everyone else in a world where resources are so plentiful it is unnecessary. “

Merritt suggested that businesses and groups attend cultural events that are already happening in their communities, reminding us to take advantage of TV programming and podcasts as well.

And if you decide to bring someone in or have someone on your team share their valuable culture, Merritt says don’t forget to pay them.

“While we are experts in our own lived experiences, not all of us are necessarily experts in our history or our culture just because we are black,” Merritt said.

This conversation continues in homes and boardrooms across the country as we begin Native American Heritage Month.

Selina Pagan has some advice for the group as they take on this month’s responsibilities.

“Don’t feel the pressure from outside institutions and people who want to do this work,” Pagan said. “Go at your own pace so that we don’t get too exhausted.”

Copyright 2021 WOIO. All rights reserved.

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