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Leaders from various industries gathered at the Hispanic Leadership Summit in Chicago on April 26. Photo: Hispanic Leadership Summit 
Leaders from various industries gathered at the Hispanic Leadership Summit in Chicago on April 26. Photo: Hispanic Leadership Summit 

Charting a path forward for Hispanics

To change the narrative, Hispanics must own the message.

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Hispanics have power they don’t see, have grown in strength, but still lag behind in many areas.

Those were some of the conclusions drawn during the Hispanic Leadership Summit held in Chicago on April 26, 2019.

During the opening remarks of the event, Claudia Romo Edelman, founder of the We Are All Human Foundation, provided some statistics on the Hispanic community.

For instance, one in five new entrepreneurs is Latino, according to one slide.

Latino-owned firms grew by 22 percent between 2007 and 2012, according to the same slide.

Forty-six percent of employment growth is also attributed to Latinos, according to the same slide.

Another slide stated, “77 percent of Hispanics don’t realize their own power.”

However, in politics, Hispanics have little real power.

Only one percent of all elected and appointed officials in the U.S. are Latino, according to a separate slide.

Not surprisingly, only 24 percent of Hispanics feel the community is represented in U.S. government, according to a separate slide.

“Democrats take us for granted and Republicans don’t understand us,” Alberto Senior, the director of community commerce and partnership at Coors, stated during a panel titled Vision 2020. “We can’t let anyone tell our stories,” Senior said. “We need to be telling our stories of success.”

“Our kids, our people, need to see how far we can go,” Senior added. “Our dreams have been cut short.”

On that note, another slide provided a bit more hope, with 61 percent of Hispanics believing a Hispanic will be president in their lifetime.

Controlling the narrative became a repeating theme, with Hernán Guaracao, the Publisher & CEO of AL DÍA News, going so far as to say that Latinos need to own the media, as he does with his organization.

Christie Hefner is the chairwoman and president of Playboy, the magazine first founded by her father, Hugh Hefner, and during her panel, entitled “Changing Perception,” she suggested that Hispanic organizations produce lists of experts in various fields to provide to the media.

As Hefner explained, media is always looking for experts to provide comments and background on all sorts of stories and they need to know about Hispanic experts who can get a call to provide necessary commentary.

With that, Hefner hoped that many false impressions made about the Hispanic community would be broken.

Hefner spoke on a panel entitled: “Changing Perception.”

Perception is another problem for the Hispanic community, according to another panelist.

“The U.S. Hispanic community is often seen as takers, not makers,” said Claudia Romo Edelman.

Mota moderated the “Vision 2020” panel, and also noted that misperceptions and stereotypes “are key barriers to the growth of any community.”

Indeed, the buying power of the Hispanic community — accounting for a gross domestic product in the US of more than $1 trillion — is often overlooked.

Teri Arvesu is the Vice President of Content at Univision Communications, and was also a panelist for the “Changing Perception” panel.

“We have a PR [public relations] problem, not an actual problem,” she said.

Arvesu added that the Hispanic community is often portrayed in “an inauthentic way” with television and movies often casting Hispanics as criminals.

This perception may have created a lack of trust.

Richard Edelman is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Edelman, a public relations and communications firm, and he said, “Hispanics, of all the minority firms, are the least trusting in business.”

In the area of technology, however, perception may be reality, as Hispanics have seen little of the growth.

“Last year, 2018, venture capital firms injected $130 million to help technology entrepreneurs,” said Marcelo De Santis, the executive advisor for Digital Transformation at ThoughtWorks.

He noted, however, that only two percent of that went to Hispanic-owned firms.

Another panelist, Samara Mejia Hernandez, is trying to change that.

She is the Founding Partner at Chingona, a venture capital firm which specializes in providing early stage funding for Hispanic owned technology companies.

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