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Opinion: Will Latinos Seize this Historic Moment or Squander it?

January 2, 2013 7:24 pm 1 Comment By  | Via  
Translated by Emily Leavitt   from
 
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(Photo by Jordan Fischer via Flicker, Creative Commons License.)

It’s an undeniable fact that Latinos living in the United States are increasingly gaining political leverage. For example, 7 out of 10 Latinos voted for Barack Obama, and there’s no lack of opinions that Obama owes his second term in the White House to the Hispanic community.

But it’s one thing to have power and a very different thing to use it to make progress.

Now that there’s no doubt that Latinos are an unstoppable force that can’t be ignored, the question remains: What will Latinos do to promote the interests of the community?

The first thing to keep in mind when it comes to defining Latinos as a community is the fact that we are a heterogeneous group, diverse by definition and impossible to classify by checking a single box, no matter how much they try to pigeonhole everybody under the so-called “Hispanic” label.

If it’s true that us Latinos share countless characteristics and aspirations, we know very well that we are divided by prejudice, the disadvantages of poverty which entangles thousands of our brothers and sisters, and – we admit it – a lack of solidarity.

If we don’t begin by declaring our solidarity, regardless of the national origins of our parents, grandparents and ancestors, the statistics showing we are large in number are meaningless. If in our everyday public life we don’t live by the values we were taught at home, the power we have gained will only serve the private interests of a few, and the anonymous sacrifice of those who left their homelands in search of a better life in the U.S. will have been in vain.

Until all of us stand up, in a sense we will remain on our knees, because discrimination is more powerful than individuals, and it doesn’t make exceptions when it places everyone under its massive umbrella of generalities.

If we don’t lose our way, it might well be that pretty soon someone named, for example, María Rodríguez, becomes the first Latina president of the most powerful nation on earth.

The numbers are clear: We have tremendous potential to change the country and the world as well. It would be a lost cause if we let this magnificent opportunity pass us by. Now, more than ever, it’s our turn to show that America is a very broad concept that includes an entire hemisphere.

What does the future hold for us?

There are several important issues on the Latino agenda, such as:

-Comprehensive immigration reform

-Climate change and sustainable development

-Gun control and rethinking violence in its entirety

-Promoting women’s rights, at home and in the rest of the world

-Rethinking the war on drugs and the issue of legalization

And for you, what’s on your agenda?

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