This is truly a Latino moment.
Latino Americans -- 50 million strong and counting -- are both the largest and the fastest-growing minority in the country.
They played a decisive role in the 2008 election, making the difference for Obama in Florida, Colorado, and New Mexico. They represent around a trillion dollars of buying power (roughly 10 percent of U.S. consumer spending). And with 32 million Hispanics online, they are among the most wired and connected groups in the country.
So I'm delighted to announce the launch of HuffPost LatinoVoices. These are really challenging times for millions of Latinos. But as I said when I recently spoke at La Raza's conference in Washington, as an immigrant to this country I know that the immigrant spirit and resilience that are at the heart of the American experience can help us overcome whatever obstacles lie ahead and truly move mountains.
Last week, in introducing HuffPost BlackVoices, I talked about how we are living in a split-screen world -- and how, depending on where you look, you get a very different perspective on where things stand.
We see this very clearly in the Latino community. On one screen, the community's growing influence; on the other, a growing wave of anti-immigrant intolerance.
At the same time that we are witnessing the outright scapegoating of Hispanics in Arizona and elsewhere, and an immigration policy that is tinged with racial small-mindedness, we are experiencing the explosion of an entrepreneurial spirit that saw Latinos open businesses at more than double the national rate between 2002 and 2007. And Latinos volunteered over 5 million hours to causes and charitable endeavors last year (that's over 500 years worth of effort!).
The Latino community's rise to prominence has been accompanied by a battle for recognition and respect -- for a seat at the table as the future of our country is being debated. HuffPost LatinoVoices will be part of that debate.
Overseen by Managing Editor Miguel Ferrer and Senior News Editor Gabriel Lerner, HuffPost LatinoVoices will provide an authentic Hispanic-American perspective on current events and cultural trends in the United States, Central and South America, and the rest of the world. From politics, education, and immigration to culture, celebrity, and health, the site will feature our signature mix of original reporting, comprehensive curation, investigative journalism, and real-time opinion.
Among the original stories by HuffPost reporters and editors we're featuring today: Cindy Y. Rodriguez asks why CNN's new primetime lineup fails to include any qualified Hispanic anchors; Saki Knafo reports on the tough spot Latino voters find themselves in -- between a president who's failed to meet promises and expectations, and a Republican Party which targets them as a wedge issue; and Matt Sledge looks at how Chicago's increasing Hispanic population is outgrowing the city's boundaries.
Today's blog lineup has plenty of 'sabor' as Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis writes about the state of Latino labor in the U.S. and how it can be an engine for growth; Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issues a call for responsible citizenship and embracing diversity; Maria Teresa Kumar offers President Obama five ideas to help win the Latino vote; Daniel Cubias wonders about the future of Hispanic filmmaking; and comedian Bill Santiago provides some needed humor as he wrestles with 'Spanglish.'
Speaking of language, HuffPost LatinoVoices will be in English, complemented by and integrated with our Spanish-language AOL Latino. The sites share an editorial team, reflecting the state of Hispanic America and catering to the universe of bilingual/bicultural Hispanics -- an audience that gets its information and entertainment in either language, and on its own terms.
So check out HuffPost LatinoVoices and use the comment section on this post to let us know what you think. Even more, we want your participation, engagement, and feedback. You are an essential part of the conversation -- a conversation that can touch people's hearts and capture their imaginations. Because that is how we're going to change things. This is how history has always changed, with a small group of people willing to dream and willing to think differently.