AE X ME COUNCIL GUEST POST: EDITH CRUZ ON HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH

Inspired by the bold voices of people like YOU, we’ve introduced the AExME Council, our first-ever crew of young advocates and change makers. In this guest post, AExME Council member Edith Cruz shares how she honors Hispanic Heritage Month, and what you can do to celebrate it, too.

Read the post in English or Spanish! Scroll down for the full translation.

 Picture of a digital art piece that Edith created based on the inspiration she got while listening to the song "Mexicana Hermosa" by Natalia Lafourcade

When you look up Hispanic Heritage Month online, one of first things you will find is the National Hispanic Heritage Month website. This site defines it as a holiday from September 15 though October 15 for Americans to celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

 

Is this really all this holiday is about?

My answer is no, but your definition of Hispanic Heritage Month could differ very much from mine.

 

HOW I HONOR MY HERITAGE

To me, Hispanic Heritage Month is more than an excuse for anyone to drink Coronas, eat tacos, and throw on a sombrero as a way to use my culture as a costume. Don’t get me wrong, I know not every person celebrates this way, but that is basically what I understood from that website’s definition. To me, Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to embrace my culture to the fullest! Growing up in the U.S.A., I was ashamed to even say I was Mexican because I felt oppressed to hide my true identity. This month gives me the most courage to wear traditional Mexican attire, which usually includes a pretty handmade dress and handmade huarache sandals that come straight from the beautiful motherland we know as Mexico and made by its indigenous people.

Edith posing for a picture with Jose Antonio Vargas(middle) a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and human rights for immigrants activist and Best Friend (Mirna Lozano) after hearing Jose speaking about how we as a nation define "american"

Of course, I try to do these things any other time of the year, but it gets hard when you know people will give you weird looks or even whisper stuff right in front of your face. It gets a lot easier to embrace my roots during this month because it becomes more acceptable.

During this month I also try my best to honor those people who came before me. I take this time to honor my parents who made the huge sacrifice to leave everything they had ever known back in Mexico. I honor my grandparents who always tried so hard to keep our family traditions alive even when half their children and grandchildren where 1,540 miles away from them. I honor the brave soldiers and youth who fought for Mexico’s independence during the Mexican War of Independence, Mexican American War, Mexican Revolution, and even in World War II. I honor my Aztec ancestors who were more than just a tribe that did human sacrifices; they were also experts in agriculture, crafts, and education.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Whether you identify as Hispanic or not, there are still many ways you can support this holiday as a member or ally!

For example, you can choose to shop locally. I know that in hometown of Lexington, Kentucky, one out of three restaurants are owned by immigrants, and that doesn’t mean just Mexican immigrants. Imagine how many local families you can support by going out to eat at your local restaurant instead of eating a burger at the nearest fast food chain. By shopping locally, you’re helping a family keep their lights on, put food on their table, or even help a child get a new pair of shoes for school!

dith posing for a picture with her two older sibling Jeanette (Left) and Jose(Right) after her Quinceañera church ceremony.

Another way to celebrate this holiday is by donating to nonprofit organizations that support Latinx or immigrant communities. Three of my favorite nonprofit organizations that I support in various of ways are United We Dream, Raices, and The Latinx Leadership & College Experience Camp (LLCEC). One of the best and easiest ways to support these and other nonprofit organizations is by DONATING! Even if you are donating only $1, you never know how much that dollar can help someone.

Other ways to celebrate and support Hispanic Heritage Month are by sharing our stories and shutting down myths! This means that if you see a video of your friend telling their story of what being Latinx means to them, hit that share button! Spreading the word is the best way to share everyone’s stories! But this also goes for all the mean, horrible, and inaccurate things that are said during this time. If you have friends that call Cinco de Mayo “Mexico’s Independence,” please shut that down right away! Because that is a big ooof! Cinco de Mayo was actually the day of the celebration of Mexico’s victory against French forces during the Battle of Puebla. Basically, Mexico owed England, Spain, and France a lot of money after the Mexican American War, and France wanted their money back. France declared war because the payment was postponed by two years and Mexico ended up winning the war! Taa-daa! History lesson is over!

 

HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH… OR LATINX HERITAGE MONTH?

Recently there has been a huge debate among the Hispanic/Latino community about a new word being used, especially during Hispanic Heritage Month. Maybe you’ve heard the word “Latinx” being used in place of Latina or Latino. This is due to the Spanish language being gendered!

For those who haven’t taken a Spanish class in high school or college, here is an example of what that might look like: the word for “friends” in Spanish is either “amigas” or “amigos.” So, let’s say you’re getting coffee with a couple friends who identify as female. In this case, you would say in Spanish that you are hanging out with your “amigas,” with the “a” in “amigas” indicating that everyone in the group is female. But what if you hit up one of your male-identifying friends and invite him to join? Well, in the Spanish language, as soon as that male friend joins the whole group of females, the word “amigas” automatically change to “amigos.” It takes one single male to change a word that applies to all the females who are present. The connotation of this rule makes it seem like the masculine has a higher status than the feminine. Not only that, but it also excludes folks who identify as non-binary or gender nonconforming.

Edith and friends

That is when the “x” comes in, because the “x” is genderless.

Latinx is the perfect word for someone who comes from Latin descent, whether they were born in a Latin country or just have a Latin background, whatever their gender identity is!

Latinx is inclusive and affirming! It’s believed that the word was coined back in 2004 by the LGBTQ+ community and was made popular in 2015 by Twitter and Tumblr. Not only does this word validate someone’s identity, but it also affirms, for folks who identify as females, that they are powerful and capable of doing all things male-identifying folks do, too. Using “Latinx” is the same as using “police officer” instead of “policeman” or “humankind” instead of “mankind,” because not every police officer identifies as male and not every human identifies as male.

This is why I prefer to use “Latinx” – because the word feels powerful and inclusive! By using “Latinx” and celebrating Latinx Heritage Month, I reaffirm my capabilities and help teach others that we don’t all have

to identify as strictly male or female. When I use this word, I know some small child out there is hearing me and knows that they are capable to do same things I am doing – changing the world step by step.

 


 

PUBLICACIÓN DE INVITADA DEL CONSULADO DE AE X ME: EDITH CRUZ EN EL MES DE L

 Inspirados por las voces atrevidas de personas como ustedes, hemos presentado el Consulado de AExME, nuestro primer equipo de activistas jóvenes y creadores de cambios. En esta publicación de invitada, la miembro del Consulado de AExME, Edith Cruz, comparte cómo honra el Mes de la Herencia Hispana y lo que puede hacer para celebrarlo también.

 

Cuando uno busca en línea el Mes de la Herencia Hispana, una de las primeras cosas que encontrará en el sitio web es la pagina del Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana. Este sitio define esta celebración como un feriado del 15 de septiembre al 15 de octubre para que los estadounidenses celebren las historias, culturas y contribuciones de ciudadanos estadounidenses quien sus antepasados vinieron de España, México, el Caribe y América Central y del Sur.

 

¿En realidad esto será lo único de que se trata esta celebración?

Mi respuesta es no, pero su definición del Mes de la Herencia Hispana podría diferir mucho de la mía.

 

CÓMO HONRO A MI HERENCIA

Para mí, el Mes de la Herencia Hispana es más que una excusa para que cualquiera tome Coronas, coma tacos y se ponga un sombrero como una forma de usar mi cultura como disfraz. No me malinterpreten, sé que no todas las personas celebran de esta manera, pero eso es básicamente lo que entendí de la definición de ese sitio web. ¡Para mí, el Mes de la Herencia Hispana es un momento para tener orgullo de mi cultura al máximo! Al crecer en los EE. UU., Me daba vergüenza incluso decir que era mexicana porque me sentía oprimida ah ocultar mi verdadera identidad. Este mes me da el mayor valor para usar la vestimenta tradicional mexicana, que generalmente incluye un bonito vestido hecho a mano y huaraches hechos a mano que provienen directamente de la hermosa tierra que conocemos como México y hecha por su propia gente nativa.

Por supuesto, trato de hacer estas cosas en cualquier otro momento del año, pero se vuelve difícil cuando sabes que las personas te darán miradas extrañas o incluso susurrarán cosas en frente de ti. Se hace mucho más fácil enseñar el orgullo de mis raíces durante este mes porque se vuelve más aceptable.

Durante este mes también hago todo lo posible para honrar a las personas que vinieron antes de mi. Aprovecho este tiempo para honrar a mis padres que hicieron el gran sacrificio para dejar todo lo que habían conocido en México y moverse a los EE. UU. Honro a mis abuelos que siempre se esforzaron por mantener vivas nuestras tradiciones familiares, incluso cuando la mitad de sus hijos y nietos estaban 1,540 millas alegados de ellos. Honro a los valientes soldados y jóvenes que lucharon por la independencia de México durante la Guerra de Independencia de México, la Guerra de México y América, la Revolución Mexicana e incluso en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Honro a mis antepasados aztecas que fueron más que una tribu que hizo sacrificios humanos; También eran expertos en agricultura, artesanía y educación.

 

LO QUE PUEDES HACER

Ya sea que tu te identifique como hispano o no, ¡todavía hay muchas maneras en que puedes apoyar está celebración como miembro de la comunidad o aliado!

Por ejemplo, puede optar por comprar localmente. Sé que, en mi ciudad natal de Lexington, Kentucky, uno de cada tres restaurantes es creado y dirigido por inmigrantes, y eso no significa solo inmigrantes mexicanos. Imagine a cuántas familias locales puede apoyar yendo a comer a su restaurante local en lugar de comer una hamburguesa en la cadena de comida rápida más cercana. Al comprar localmente, está ayudando a una familia a mantener las luces encendidas, poner comida en la mesa o incluso ayudar a un niño a obtener un par de zapatos nuevos para la escuela.

Otra forma de celebrar este día festivo es donando a organizaciones locales que apoyan a las comunidades latinas o inmigrantes. Tres de mis organizaciones favoritas que apoyo de varias maneras son United We Dream, Raices y El Campaento de la Experiencia Latinx de Liderasgo y Universitaria (LLCEC). ¡Una de las mejores y más fáciles formas de apoyar a estas y otras organizaciones es DONANDO! Incluso si estás donando solo $1, nunca sabes cuánto puede ayudar ese dólar a alguien.

¡Otras formas de celebrar y apoyar el Mes de la Herencia Hispana son compartiendo nuestras historias y cerrando mitos! Esto significa que, si ves un video de tu amigo contando su historia de lo que significa ser Latinx para ellos, ¡presiona el botón de compartir! ¡Difundir la palabra es la mejor manera de compartir las historias de todos! Pero esto también se aplica a todas las cosas malas, horribles e inexactas que se dicen durante este tiempo. Si tiene amigos que llaman la celebración Cinco de Mayo la “Independencia de México”, ¡corrígelos! ¡Porque eso es un gran mito! El Cinco de Mayo fue en realidad el día de la celebración de la victoria de México contra las fuerzas francesas durante la Batalla de Puebla. Básicamente, México le debía mucho dinero a Inglaterra, España y Francia después de la Guerra Mexicana-Americana, y Francia quería recuperar su dinero. ¡Francia declaró la guerra porque el pago se pospuso por dos años y México terminó ganando la guerra! Taa-daa! ¡La lección de historia ha terminado!

 

MES DEL PATRIMONIO HISPANO … ¿O MES DEL PATRIMONIO LATINX?

Recientemente ha habido un gran debate entre la comunidad hispana/latina sobre el uso de una nueva palabra, especialmente durante el Mes de la Herencia Hispana. Tal vez has escuchado la palabra “Latinx” que se usa en lugar de Latina o Latino. ¡Esto se debe a que el idioma español es generando!

Para aquellos que no hablan español o no han tomado una clase de español en la escuela secundaria o la universidad, aquí hay un ejemplo de cómo el lenguaje es generado: Digamos que estas tomando café con una pareja de amigos que se identifican como mujeres. En este caso, se diría en español que estás pasando el rato con tus “amigas”, con la “a” en “amigas” que indica que todos en el grupo son mujeres. Pero ¿qué pasa si invitas a uno de tus amigos que ellos se identifican como hombre? Bueno, en el idioma español, tan pronto como ese amigo se una al grupo completo de mujeres, la palabra “amigas” cambia automáticamente a “amigos”. Solo se necesita un hombre para cambiar una palabra que se aplica a todas las mujeres que están presentes. La connotación de esta regla hace que parezca que lo masculino tiene un estatus más alto que lo femenino. No solo eso, sino que también excluye a las personas que se identifican como no binarias o no conformes con un género.

Es entonces cuando entra la “x”, porque la “x” no tiene género.

Latinx es la palabra perfecta para alguien que proviene de ascendencia latina, ya sea que hayan nacido en un país latino o que simplemente tengan antecedentes latinos, ¡cualquiera sea su identidad de género!

¡Latinx es inclusivo y afirmativo! Se cree que la palabra fue acuñada en 2004 por la comunidad LGBTQ+ y se hizo popular en 2015 por Twitter y Tumblr. Esta palabra no solo valida la identidad de alguien, sino que también afirma, para las personas que se identifican como mujeres, que son poderosas y capaces de hacer todo lo que hacen las personas que identifican como hombres o masculino. Usar “Latinx” es lo mismo que usar “humanidad” en lugar de “humanidad”, porque no todos los policías se identifican como hombres y no todos los humanos se identifican como hombres.

Es por eso que prefiero usar “Latinx”, ¡porque la palabra se siente poderosa e inclusiva! Al usar “Latinx” y celebrar el Mes de la Herencia de Latinx, reafirmo mis capacidades y ayudo a enseñar a otros que no todos tenemos

para identificarse como estrictamente masculino o femenino. Cuando uso esta palabra, sé que un niño pequeño me está escuchando y sabe que son capaces de hacer lo mismo que yo, cambiando el mundo paso a paso.

 

 

SHOP & GIVE BACK CONTEST: GIVE. LOVE. GET.

AE GIVE. LOVE. GET.

The holidays are almost here! And this year, it’s all about giving back AND getting what you want.

Enter for your chance to win a 5-minute shopping spree at your AE store – with a charitable twist! The more styles you grab, the bigger our matching donation to Delivering Good, which helps support homeless and underprivileged youth near you.

 

ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!

AE Contest Instructions

Five winners will be selected with a match up to $2,500 each. Total matching donation not to exceed $12,500 USD.

Watch these submissions for inspiration, then post your own video about what makes the holidays special in YOUR hometown!

Read the full rules.

 

 

 

AExME COUNCIL VOTER REGISTRATION TEES

You have the power to build a better future. Which is why, in celebration of today’s National Voter Registration Day, we’re excited to share our latest collaboration with the AExME Council – tees in support of getting out the vote. These tees feature hand-drawn graphics inspired by the Council, with ALL sales benefiting HeadCount.

Read on to learn more about how these AExME Council members collaborated with the AE design team, and why voting is truly the ultimate way to show your individuality and self-expression.

SHOP WOMEN | SHOP MEN

 

Joseph Touma

Bridge the Divide Co-Founder, @josephmtouma

AExME Council Member Joseph Touma

Q: What was your inspiration?

Today, the United States finds itself increasingly divided. Now more than ever, it’s important to remember one of the fundamental ideas behind America – we are a group of people, with different backgrounds, experiences, and political beliefs, all living together in unity. This tee emphasizes the most significant word in our country’s name, “United,” and reminds me of the importance of respecting and caring for all Americans, regardless of the labels that are often used to divide us.

Q: How did you collaborate with the AE design team?

As a member of the #AExME Council, I had the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look into the design process at AE. When they told me I could design a shirt, I wanted to make something that illustrated the message of my organization, Bridge the Divide, in a simple yet meaningful way. After several months of communication with the design experts at AE, I’m thrilled to see the final look and pumped to share it with the world!

Q: Why does voter registration matter?

The United States is more than a country. It’s a set of ideas, with democracy at its core, that only works if we, the people, vote. HeadCount is a nonpartisan organization that registers voters regardless of their political preferences. All voices deserve to be heard, and at the end of the day, the importance of voting is one thing we can all agree on. Right now, millions of people around the world are fighting for the same opportunity. We must remember how lucky we are even to have the chance to cast a ballot in the first place. So, whether you are young or old, rich or poor, progressive or conservative, everyone has the right and responsibility to vote.

Tim Johnson, Jr.

Actor & Musician, @cityboyjr

AExME Council Member Tim Johnson, Jr.

Q: What was your inspiration?

The idea for the shirt design came when I went to Pittsburgh for our first AExME Council meeting. I saw this painting in the hotel we were staying at of this beautiful black woman with positive words that created the Afro on her head. I was like, “Woahhh, this is cool.” It inspired me to start writing down things that bring me joy. I feel like sometimes in our minds, we have a collage of negativity, so creating a shirt filled with positive vibes can help remind us that light will extinguish the darkness.

AExME Voter Registration Tees

Q: How did you collaborate with the AE design team?

I sent different words to the design team and they got right on it! And they did their thing!!!

Q: Why does voter registration matter?

I feel like we need to break down what we stand for as citizens of this country and what qualities we want in our leaders. I’m thankful to platforms like American Eagle who understand that we hold the power to change this culture no matter who we are. So vote for yourself and for others who can’t.

 

Samuel Getachew

Award-Winning Poet, @samuelgd

AExME Council Member Samuel Getachew

Q: What was your inspiration?

“Pass the mic” is a pretty common phrase, but it has taken on higher importance for me as of late. As a spoken word poet, I encounter a lot of microphones. For my art form, mics are an instrument of power and expression. They represent a platform and a voice. The possession of a mic is a privilege. We all hold privilege in some form – at varying degrees, yes, but some privilege nonetheless. It is so incredibly vital that we recognize the platforms and mics we are given, and recognize that not everyone has the same privilege we do. Rather than speaking for people who are less fortunate than ourselves, we must lend our platforms to project their voices. Now more than ever, we must pass the mic.

Q: How did you collaborate with the AE design team?

I had a lot of ideas for designs, so I sent them all over to the design team. They sent back their feedback, and we decided on the one phrase. Then they sent over initial designs, and I gave my thoughts on which I felt communicated the message best. After a few discussions on colors and prints, we decided on the final product!

Q: Why does voter registration matter?

The franchise is one of the many privileges that we as Americans often take for granted. When we abstain from democracy, our very political system malfunctions. But we also live and work within a system that is intentionally designed to create a group of voters and a group of non-voters, creating barriers based on race, class, gender, and more. Voter registration and education and organizations like HeadCount are vital because they seek to break down those barriers, and establish a government that truly works for the people. However, it is important to remember that not everyone can vote – in fact, many of the people most impacted by government policy are disenfranchised due to citizenship status or criminal records. We must also lend our privileges to them, voting with them in mind, and recognizing the immensity of the gift that is our right to vote.

 


 

These AExME Council members are changing the world, and so are YOU. Tag #AExME @americaneagle to share how you’re using your voice to inspire change.

 

AE ASSOCIATE SPOTLIGHT: FIGHTING MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA WITH LOVE

All across the country, young people like you are standing up for what’s important. Inspired by the launch of the AExME Council, we turned to our amazing team of store managers, stylists, and associates to learn more about some of the issues affecting their communities and the causes they’re passionate about


Meet Hannah from store #0392 in Towson, MD. She’s a 21-year-old body positivity activist who’s passionate about reducing mental health stigma and preventing suicide.

An eating disorder survivor, Hannah participates in National Eating Disorders Association walks with her AE coworkers – they’ve even taken home a top fundraising team award! – as well as American Foundation for Suicide Prevention walks. She believes in the power of being open and honest, and having conversations about the hard stuff… even or especially if they’re uncomfortable.

AE Associate Hannah

Q: How do you express your thoughts and beliefs?

A: I have always believed in being open and honest. While I was in the deepest part of my eating disorder, I kept so many secrets about what I did and why I did it. Through my recovery, I have become so much more open about my life in general and how I feel about the world. I’m always willing to listen to the beliefs of others and try to go in with an open mind when I meet new people and hear other points of view.

Q: What does AExME mean to you?

A: AExME means that I can be whoever I want to be and create my style to be something that I feel comfortable and confident in! Since my heart belongs to Aerie, I’ll say what #AerieREAL means to me, too! The entire concept of #AerieREAL reminds me that everything that has happened in my life has made me who I am, and that I am allowed to embrace that! #AerieREAL has helped me to embrace my quirks, wild mane of hair, mistakes, crazy laugh, journey with an eating disorder, and so, so much more.

Q: What’s a quote that inspires you?

A: I absolutely could not decide between these two, so here are two quotes I love: “You cannot change the world on an empty stomach,” as well as one that’s actually in our fitting rooms: “There is nothing more beautiful than a happy soul.” I love this one because I have always had a distorted view of what beauty is and how it should function in my life. I have learned over the years that it is my happiness and the way I serve others that makes me beautiful.

AE Associate Hannah

Fill in the Blanks

The future is uplifting!

The best thing about my community is the love & support I experience on a daily basis.

More acceptance would make the world a better place.

I believe in the pursuit of happiness.

My mom is my personal superhero.

If I could change one thing about the world today, it would be the stigma surrounding mental health.

 

 

AE X IT GETS BETTER GUEST POST: PATRICK TUCKER, AE ASSOCIATE

For the fourth year in a row, AE is proud to support the It Gets Better Project by donating 100% of sales of our annual Pride collection to the nonprofit, which uplifts, empowers, and connects LGBTQ+ youth around the world. But inclusivity starts from the inside out, which is why we’re taking this opportunity to reflect on what equality, individuality, and a better future mean to us.

 We kicked off our series of guest posts about love, acceptance, and how it really DOES get better with our Global Brand President, Chad Kessler, and have followed up with posts from associates across the country. Now Patrick, a store leader in Louisiana, shares how he has found purpose in his authentic, happy, open life.

 

SHOP WOMEN’S PRIDE    |    SHOP MEN’S PRIDE

PATRICK TUCKER

Store Leader in Monroe, LA

I love that AE allows me to be open about my life and live authentically. Growing up gay in the rural South was hard, but the ability to marry my husband in 2016 made the long journey worthwhile.

Patrick Tucker and husband

I would tell my younger self to keep fighting because that’s how you get the life you dream of. I was able to make a difference in my life as well as educate my family and create an atmosphere of inclusiveness.

AE Associate, Patrick Tucker

I find my strength in knowing that what I do now could help someone else later. My favorite quote is from Dolly Parton: “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” I am me on purpose and I love my open, happy, authentic life.

Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours? Share it with #ItGetsBetter @americaneagle to show your support and inspire LGBTQ+ youth around the world!

 

 

 

AE X IT GETS BETTER GUEST POST: BRANDON KLOUDA, AE ASSOCIATE

For the fourth year in a row, AE is proud to support the It Gets Better Project by donating 100% of sales of our annual Pride collection to the nonprofit, which uplifts, empowers, and connects LGBTQ+ youth around the world. But inclusivity starts from the inside out, which is why we’re taking this opportunity to reflect on what equality, individuality, and a better future mean to us.

We kicked off our series of guest posts about love, acceptance, and how it really DOES get better with our Global Brand President, Chad Kessler, and have followed up with posts from associates across the country. Now, Brandon, a store manager in Iowa, shares how the first step to loving others is loving yourself.

 

SHOP WOMEN’S PRIDE    |    SHOP MEN’S PRIDE

BRANDON KLOUDA

Store Manager in Sioux City, IA

Working for a company that accepts you for who you are has truly made me love coming to work. The amount of support I have received from everyone at AE has truly made me feel welcome and able to be myself. The fact that we support LGBTQ+ communities at AE has a special place in my heart. I spread the word of such support and reach out to people to tell them that AE is a safe and amazing place to work.

I would tell my younger self that it does in fact get better. Coming out as gay and being a single dad scared me to death. But the amount of support I got from family and peers has been overwhelming.

Brandon and family

The best advice I’ve received is to be yourself and love yourself.

I celebrate me by being the best version of who I am and accepting the fact that there is nothing wrong with me.

Love yourself so you can love others.

Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours? Share it with #ItGetsBetter @americaneagle to show your support and inspire LGBTQ+ youth around the world!