I’m proud to say that we at Dataminr have a strong and growing community of Latinx employees who continue to make significant contributions to our company’s culture and success. And every September, we’re reminded that National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed in the U.S. from September 15 to October 15, is the opportune occasion to commemorate this vibrant community.
This year, I got to speak with Nicky De La Cruz, Dataminr Senior Director of Accounting and global leader of the Amigos@Dataminr employee resource group (ERG), to discuss what about this month he finds most special, and how we all can celebrate and uplift the Latinx community.
The 2023 theme for Hispanic Heritage Month is ‘Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power, and Progress.’ Who and what achievements are the most significant to you?
I’m thrilled that this year’s theme gives us an opportunity to recognize and highlight the significant achievements of the Hispanic community in the economic and political industries. While the Latinx community has seen great representation and success in the U.S. media, government and pop culture, in the past few decades, there are still significant concerns that need to be addressed such as immigration and access to economic capital. I think these are some of the main hurdles for the Latinx community; progress in these areas are critical to achieving generational prosperity and power.
But we have made some monumental strides. Some of the achievements that are most significant to me are those made by people I see as heroes and beacons for progress. For example:
How do you usually celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month?
This time of year serves as a reflection of both the diversity and commonality of the Latinx population here in the U.S. and abroad. This month of commemoration is an opportunity for Latinx to shine light on our diverse culture and use our voice and presence to bring important discussions to the forefront of socio-political discourse. Some of the crucial topics currently on my mind include human rights; health equity; access to commercial capital for Latinx entrepreneurs; educational investment; and integration into U.S. systems.
What is a key aspect of your culture that you’d like to share?
A lot of what I learned about my Puerto Rican and Cuban heritage really came to me later in life because I grew up in a very diverse urban community in Brooklyn. As I grew older, I had more opportunities to visit family in Puerto Rico. I realized that, while there were many differences between the culture on the island and that of my Brooklyn community, I still felt a deep connection to my heritage.
Recently, I’ve been listening to a podcast series called La Brega, which focuses on Puerto Rican people and culture. That’s when I came across the term “la brega.” There is no exact English translation. But according to the podcast, “To bregar means to struggle, hustle and find a way to get by and get around an imbalance of power…it’s a word that belongs to the underdog.”
When I learned the meaning, I felt a meaningful connection to the word, especially when reflecting on my upbringing and the values instilled in me as a child.
To bregar is also to accept that life requires resiliency and, for the underdogs, even in the midst of adversity, there is hope and belief that things will be better. This concept is likely used differently in Latin America as variations in dialect often result in changes to word usage and definitions. But I believe the values it holds are a common thread that connects our diverse Latinx population.
In recent years, many Boricuas—which is how those of Puerto Rican heritage refer to themselves—have been bregiando in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, systemic economic failure, decades of government corruption, and more. At the same time, there has been a massive wave of young Boricua diaspora returning to the island. Add to that the strong spirit among local social advocates and renewed sense of island-identity among children of the Boricua diaspora, and we have witnessed a growing population that is fiercely passionate about fighting for the rights of Boricuas in the homeland.
How will you support and/or celebrate your community in and outside of the workplace?
I’m grateful and honored to serve as the global leader of the Amigos@Dataminr ERG this year. The role has allowed me to connect my workplace with my culture, and I’ve been using this opportunity to bring meaningful programming to my colleagues and peers at Dataminr—as well as others in my professional network.
Through our ERG programs, I aim to spotlight issues that impact gender equity, women’s healthcare and access, and the political turbulence that many of our families and friends are facing in our respective homelands. Keep in mind these are just some of the hardships that Latinx often have to endure. My belief is that these topics, and the generational trauma that comes with them, need to be discussed, appreciated and—in due time—acted upon in order for our community to truly prosper and build on the progress that has mounted over the last few decades.
What are some ways a company’s employees and leadership can be allies to their Hispanic colleagues?
I believe it’s critical to maintain an open mind about the fact that there is a diverse set of values and heritages that Latinx people from different countries may bring. At the same time, I think it’s important—regardless of whether it’s in the workplace or in your local communities—to be mindful and aware of issues such as climate change, political crisis, health care, femicide and human trafficking, all of which are very real and prevalent elements of the Latinx experience.
These problems are not going away anytime soon. So for many Latinx folks, the emotions and trauma of having to deal with these issues, plus the fear of the unknown, weigh heavily on how we make life decisions, form relationships, and visualize success as individuals and communities.
What is the Amigos@Dataminr ERG doing to celebrate this month?
This year, our marquee event honors the Mirabal Sisters and their extended family and supporters. Commonly referred to as Las Mariposas, the three sisters were Dominican Republic activists who resisted the rule of then dictator, Rafael Trujillo. Sadly they were assassinated in 1960 as a result. However, that brutal act turned them into symbols of democratic and feminist resistance, both of which are recognized and celebrated today.
We’re excited to have one of the Mirabal sisters’ descendants celebrate with us—Doña Minou Tavárez Mirabal, the daughter of the third Mirabal sister, María Argentina Minerva Mirabal Reyes. We’ll have a fireside chat with Minou, who is a philologist, professor and Dominican politician and has been instrumental in global advocacy for the protection of those who identify as women and girls.
We’ll also host a podcast club, where we’ll listen to and discuss the “Sisters of the Underground” podcast, which explores the history and legacy of the Mirabal family.
While National Hispanic Heritage Month provides a forum for us to celebrate the expansive culture of those of Hispanic heritage, our ERG programming spans the entire year. As such, we will have additional panel discussions and cultural/holiday celebrations throughout 2023.
Learn more about the work we’re doing at Dataminr to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace.
Robin Strup is Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Dataminr. She has over 25 years of experience in DEI strategies and communication across multiple organizations and industries. Robin is a graduate of Georgetown University’s Executive Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Management leadership program with a passion and expertise in leveraging behavioral science interventions to improve business outcomes.