Elda Hudson feels a deep responsibility to carry on the Hispanic heritage passed down to her. Though she was born in Mexico, her parents brought her to the U.S. when she was only 6 months old. She grew up in Texas before joining the Navy where she was stationed all over the continental U.S. Afterwards, she came back to Texas to work and to be around family. “Family is everything in my culture,” she explains. “Any get-together is a big family affair. There is always a lot of food. We feed the whole neighborhood!”
Hispanic residents have recently become the largest ethnic demographic in Texas. This is according to unofficial numbers from a 2021 U.S. Census Bureau survey where Latinx now represent over 40% of the state population. These numbers come at an appropriate time as September 15 marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month which is celebrated until October 15.
Elda remembers what it was like being raised in Texas. “Growing up in a small town,” she reflects, “I didn’t see a lot of people who were successful that looked like me.” Many from the Hispanic community relate a similar dynamic. “Did I struggle? Yes. Did I let that stop me? No.” For Elda, she leaned into the opportunities available to her. She strove to grow and learn and contribute to society. Yet, she remained convicted about honoring her heritage. Moving forward did not mean letting go of her history.
Now she serves as the Care Coordination Manager at Metrocare – the largest provider of mental health and developmental disability services in North Texas. After moving back to Texas, she worked in almost every major hospital system in Dallas as well as a school district. According to her, Metrocare’s leadership is a lot more diverse than other organizations. “There are clinical managers, directors, and board members that look like me.”
She also appreciates the cultural competency she has observed. “We know that everyone’s backgrounds are different. Staff is educated.” For example, if an individual who identifies as Hispanic comes into a clinic complaining of feeling tired, trained staff understand that could mean they are experiencing depression. Thankfully, Metrocare creates an environment where different cultural backgrounds can find education and support. “My parents don’t speak English, so it feels good to know someone would be able to help them if they came in for services.”
The Hispanic community is obviously not a monolith. Elda advocates for a further appreciation for the nuances between Latin cultures – whether they be Puerto Rican, Columbian, or Guatemalan. While her favorite Mexican dish is chile relleno, other cultures boast their favorite cuisines. Regardless of background, she desires to see all Hispanic roots endure. “I’m really proud of my heritage. It’s why I share and encourage others to pass on their traditions whether they be 1st or 5th generation.” Hispanic Heritage Month creates space to do just that – to intentionally focus on these traditions – not only to remember the past, but more importantly to shape the future.
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