June 21, 2013
By Juan Tornoe
If Paul Revere were alive today, he might be spreading the alarm that "The Latinos are coming! The Latinos are coming!" in order to appropriately prepare for the growth of America's Hispanic community, already the largest minority group.
According to the US Census, Latinos contributed more than any other ethnic group to population growth last year. And no, it's not all from immigration. Of the 1.15 million new Latinos, less than a quarter came from any sort of international migration. The rest were born to Hispanics already living in America.
How should "average red-blooded Americans" react to the fact that individuals with Hispanic heritage lead US population growth? There is the fear route (a la Paul Revere) or embracing as their own these new and diverse faces that are becoming an integral part of the American fabric and economy. I vote for the latter. How about you?
As an immigrant myself, I have had many interesting experiences while interacting with non-Hispanic friends and acquaintances. I understand that being Guatemalan, Evangelical Christian, fully bilingual (although with a "Puss in Boots" accent) and working in the marketing industry, among other things, does not fit with the stereotypical image people have of a Latino immigrant in Austin, Texas.
I have seen reactions all across the spectrum. Some have honest ignorance about my background accompanied by a true desire to learn more about what I am all about. They seek to find all the things and interests we have in common. Others simply decide that we are way too different to waste their time interacting with me. I can assure you the former has been a mutually enriching experience every single time.
America is first and foremost a country of immigrants, but it is also a country of descendants of immigrants. As of 2009, 63% of the Hispanic population was native-born, and that domestic growth is likely to continue. As has happened with many immigrant waves in the past, Latin Americans came in droves in the latter half of the 20th century. Now the new immigrant inflow from south of the border has somewhat watered down, especially during the recession and with increased border security. Today the real vibrancy of the Latino community is those families – and their sons and daughters and grandchildren – who are already here and growing up completely American.
As for the Latino community, this is our moment of truth. In the political arena, Texas dynamic duo Joaquín & Julián Castro, White House top staffer Katherine Archuleta, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, US supreme court justice Sonia Sotomayor, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and Florida Senator Marco Rubio are showcasing the diversity of Latino views and influence. In sports, Carmelo Anthony, Mark Sanchez, Danell Leyva, Sergio Romo, Sergio Peña, and Alec Martinez are starting to reach household name status. I could go on and on. I am not a fan of "celebrities" of any ethnicity, but certainly Jennifer Lopez's project to get more Hispanics on TV is another wake up call for our community.
Everybody is addressing the benefits of the enviable position in which we Hispanics find ourselves at this moment in history. They say it is "our time to harness our newfound power". Yes, but with this new power and influence come responsibilities. We are responsible for preserving America as we know it for future generations – ours and everyone else's who calls this land of liberty home. We must protect the American Dream and yet make it our own.
We need to study harder, get more experience, learn more, maintain our work ethic, and always keep striving to improve. A recent report from the US Census reveals that only 13% of Hispanic adults have a bachelor's degree of higher, compared to 27.9% of the total adult population in the US. We must get civically and politically involved and pursue becoming business leaders. Embrace the good things the American Culture has to offer, while never letting go of all the amazing things that our culture infuses into this society.
According to the revised numbers released by the Pew Hispanic Center, merely 48% of Latino eligible voters casted their vote in the 2012 general elections, compared to 64.1% of non-Hispanic whites. As for civilian employment, according to the Census bureau's 2010 American Community Survey, only 19% of Hispanics hold management positions v 39.5% of the entire US population. These numbers must improve, and must do so promptly.
We must stand in the shoulders of giants – the exceptional persons from all ethnicities and walks of life – who have built the infrastructure and conceived the principles that make this the exceptional country that it is, an continue moving forward on the path they have laid out for us.
Like it or not, from now on we Latinos will be carrying a lot on our shoulders. This is our time to shine.
Source: The Guradian