Hispanic Unity: An urgent step to start America’s healing (Op-Ed)
The unification of the US Latino community could be the beginning of the unification and healing of America.
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I have spent the last three years of my life working towards one single goal: unifying the Hispanic community.
This large group of more than 60 million people, 18% of the total U.S. population, has historically been characterized as divided, fragmented, and sometimes hostile with one another. These very same words are being used today to describe the nation overall.
It breaks my heart to see what has been happening over the past week in Washington D.C. and what we all witnessed at the Capitol Hill. However, in taking a step back from it all, I see encouraging signs in the Hispanic community which point to a significant movement towards unity.
It is my firm belief that those forces bringing the Hispanic community together are the same forces that will ultimately heal our country overall.
The first unmistakable sign of progress towards unity, is the massive involvement we witnessed in the last elections.
Latinos turned out in historic numbers to cast their ballot. In my 20 years working for the United Nations, engagement of the people in the political process was the first indication of a country’s progress towards unification and stability. It meant that the population were invested in making the nation succeed and believed in the possibility of a better future.
These factors are very much at work in the Hispanic community.
While we Latinos are a diverse group (with 26 different countries of origin), our most recent research indicates that 91% of U.S. Hispanics identify themselves first and foremost as ‘Americans’ and are ardent believers in the ‘American Dream.” Seventy percent of parents think their children will be better off and 82% have big plans for the next five years.
At the same time, this quintessential American spirit of hope and belief in a better future, coexists with a strong sense of ‘Latinidad’. Eighty-three percent of respondents say they identify strongly with being Hispanic.
What is reassuring is that the characteristics associated with Hispanics by all ethnicities are positive. Our perception study performed in the third quarter of 2020 showed that Hispanics were viewed as hardworking, trustworthy, caring, intelligent and resourceful. The ‘caring’ nature of Hispanics, in particular, is worth noting.
More than two thirds of the population report that they would trust Hispanics with their children. Latina nurses are the first ethnicity group in the country’s nurses.
I know Hispanics are a ‘caring’ community. Looking out for each other is part of our DNA. We are well known for our loyalty to our family and friends. But, we do not have a monopoly on ‘caring’. I have witnessed the same ‘caring’ nature in the American people. This is a country where giving is ingrained in who we are.
Over the past 3 years, I have been working day and night to unite the Hispanic community through ‘We Are All Human’ and the ‘Hispanic Star.’ I could not be more grateful for the overwhelming support we have received from corporate America, from Foundations, from Organizations.
Over 190 companies have joined us and publicly committed to the advancement of Hispanics in the workplace. Over 50% of them are Fortune 500, but many are regional or even local businesses who view it as their duty to take action.
This innate commitment to doing good was on full display in response to the disastrous impact of Covid on the Hispanic community. Leaders, community organizers and volunteers, all came together under the banner of the Hispanic Star to coordinate a nationwide response. Together, we distributed essential products in more than 50 cities, reaching over 350,000 families — 1.5 million people in need!
While I am hopeful for the future, I am deeply pained by the current turmoil we are going through as a nation. Nonetheless, I know that the path towards a better future is not a straight line pointing upwards.
Hispanics, as big a community as we are, are facing the exact same problems that the country is facing as a whole. We are united by our belief in the ‘American Dream’ but we are still divided. We work hard to achieve a society where all will thrive, but we are not there yet.
But, again, I am hopeful. This is a ‘caring’ nation that has found its way through many challenges in its history. Latinos that are such a large and important part of this country are a ‘caring’ people as well. I am sure we will work together. We will make progress and together we will achieve the ‘American Dream.’
I want to direct a special message to all Latinos.
We need to be intentional about becoming more unified, not just for us as a community, but for this country that we love so deeply. Because we are so young and so many, we can really make a difference. This is our time. This is the window of opportunity to step up and lead the way and continue to be the growth engine that we have been for this country. No institution is going to do it alone. We need everybody. Corporations, non-for-profit organizations, media, every ethnic group, everybody has a role to play to become a force for unification.
Because we care, because we believe, America will heal. America will prosper.