Inside Zane’s Personal Connection to National Hispanic Heritage Month

The theme of this year’s National Hispanic Heritage Month is “Esperanza: A Celebration Of Hispanic Heritage And Hope.”

In keeping with that theme, we at Zane want to share the story of our founder, Shila Nieves-Burney, who is a Black Latino. Shila spent much of her youth struggling to feel accepted by both the Black and Latino communities, but that time spent struggling has given her unique insights and hope for the future of Latinos in America.

We’ll let Shila take it from here.

We want to briefly interject here with a quick history lesson.

The overlap between the Puerto Rican and Black communities has existed long before Shila was born. The town of Loíza, founded in 1692 on the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico, has a historic population of Black-Afro Puerto Ricans.

Loiza cultural center
Loíza Cultural Center with the text ”Sembrando Paz”: Cultivating Peace

Known as the “Capital of Traditions,” the town was settled in the 16th century by Nigerian slaves brought by Spanish colonizers in the 16th century. The town’s multifaceted culture reflects Shila’s own mixed heritage — a merging of two groups into a hopeful new community.

Shila as a young woman

Quick facts:

  • The existing number of Black-owned businesses have created over 1 million jobs and generated over $165 billion in revenue (report here)
  • If Latino-owned businesses grow as fast as the U.S. average, they could add $1.4 trillion to the U.S. economy (JPMorgan Chase & Co.)

Despite this pushback, Shila has hope for the future.

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