2021, the year of Latinos
Culture, politics and census data have got the country talking about the increasingly influential Latino community.
On December 12, President Joe Biden mourned the death of Mexican singer Vicente Fernández on Twitter.
"The music world has lost an icon.The music of Vicente Fernández created memories for millions."
The tweet did not go unnoticed by the singer's fans or by the Latino community in the country, and it has a deep meaning, as it is a way to recognize the importance of Hispanic culture in the United States.
The music world has lost an icon.
The music of Vicente Fernández created memories for millions. We send our condolences to his family and all those who loved him.
Vicente will be remembered for generations to come.
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 13, 2021
This act, conceived by the presidential communications office, is one of many that have put the spotlight on the Hispanic community and culture in the country in the last year. The most important, perhaps, is the census data that revealed something that was already intuited: Latinos are no longer a minority in the country.
Some 62 million people consider themselves Hispanic, that is 19% of the U.S. population, a not insignificant figure that has served to generate an uncomfortable conversation that the nation owes to one out of every five Americans.
There are many Latinos, first, second and even third generation immigrants, Afro-Latinos, white Latinos, indigenous Latinos, Latinos plain and simple. Latinos who are professionals, businessmen and entrepreneurs, students and workers, newcomers who only get piecework, farmers who are only in the country during the planting and harvest season.
But they are all part of perhaps the largest productive force in the country in the 21st century. In fact, they have the highest labor participation rate, at 65.6%, and contribute $2.7 trillion to GDP.
But beyond the numbers, the influence and reach of Latinos is growing.
One of Biden's goals has been to achieve greater diversity in government, and this year the President has appointed Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Health Secretary Xavier Becerra, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, and Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Isabel Guzman.
Aside from politics, as always, culture has been the highlight. Encanto, the Disney movie inspired in Colombia, has set a record at the box office. The new version of West Side Story, directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring a Latino cast, has also been the talk of the post-pandemic return of cinema to theaters.
For the second consecutive year, Puerto Rican singer Bad Bunny was the most listened to singer on Spotify, with more than 9 million plays, competing with American icons such as Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber.
All these 'hits' are proof that multiculturalism is already a reality. The generational change will also continue to modify the criteria of Hispanicity. The ten million Hispanic babies born in the last decade in the country will be the generation that completes the American dream.