I grew up in a majority Hispanic area, but throughout my life, I’ve struggled with feeling Hispanic enough. I have blonde hair and blue eyes, I had a stereotypically White maiden name - I didn’t match people’s expectations. And I didn’t want to bother explaining it.
To further complicate the matter, when asked about my nationality, I would say I’m Hispanic - from Spain and Mexico. Saying I was “Spanish” was often okay, but saying I was “Mexican” was something I didn’t always feel comfortable with due to the stereotypes and discrimination Mexicans and Mexican-Americans face in the United States. I also didn’t have anyone outside of my mom’s family that really cared about my cultures. Inside of my home, we kept up with a few traditions, but beyond that, trying to get my children and ex-spouse to really care felt like too much work.
But things are different for me now. Over the years, little by little (and tradition by tradition), I have been able to embrace my full identity as a Latinx - a Mexican and Spanish - woman. And in great part, I have Aledade and our Latinx Employee Resource Group (ERG) to thank for that.
About two months after I started at Aledade, I joined my first Latinx ERG meeting just looking to be a fly on the wall and see what they were all about. But quickly, I was warmly welcomed by my colleague Maria McVicker-Roberts - and I found myself not only actively participating in each meeting but also agreeing to co-lead the ERG with Maria.
In our ERG, we have an organically sourced collection of both people who identify as Latinx and Aledaders committed to being allies. But across the board here at Aledade, everyone is welcome in all of our ERGs - and these groups bring us all closer to one another by giving us the space to connect on real, non-business topics. I know in our Latinx ERG, some meetings are fun and light-hearted, while others are much heavier. (And everyone knows I’m the first to cry in either setting.) These are our spaces to be vulnerable, and the way we all step up to make each other feel heard, seen and included is second to none. It’s unbelievably refreshing.
During this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month, a few themes stuck out to me. First off, we all look very different from one another - and we represent many different Latinx cultures. But interesting enough, we all find deep connection in those differences. And while we are all different, many of us share the same or similar traditions - and we tend to gravitate towards traditional comfort foods. (Tamales are very popular over here!)
Now that Hispanic Heritage Month has passed, we’re still keeping the conversations going. While a 30-day observance is a great thing, we want to celebrate our cultures, differences and similarities all year long. That’s a huge reason why I’m so proud to be at Aledade. We’re all encouraged and supported to be our authentic selves - and I look forward to continuing to learn from and grow alongside my colleagues!
Lillian Yim is Manager, Medicare Advantage Performance at Aledade.