Hispanics across America are deeply concerned about the 2012 presidential election campaign and we have every reason to feel this way. In fact, we Hispanics are now voicing our opinions more powerfully than ever before as our concerns mount for the future of our children and our own well-being.
Beyond concerns about the job market, the economy, education, healthcare and other policy driven initiatives, Hispanics are fighting to hold onto our cultural roots and their language - our unique immigrant perspective. This has come as a surprise to many Hispanics who thought that exceeding the 50 million-mark (in population) would help create new opportunities for our community. In fact, many Hispanics in the United States felt that the United States owed them something just because there were more of them. This attitude in many respects pushed the Hispanic community backward and further opened the door for America's corporations, politicians and society-at large to view Hispanics as a weakening community. This victimization mindset is unacceptable at a time where everyone is struggling to survive today's uncertain economic terrain. No one is entitled to anything. We are living in survival mode and we Hispanics, like everyone else, must accept this fact.
Hispanics represent the most important demographic for the future of America. As President Obama recently stated, "our country was built on and continues to thrive on its diversity. There is no doubt that the future of the United States is inextricable linked to the future of the Hispanic community." The most important factors contributing to this influence:
1. Purchasing power: Estimated at 1.2 Trillion by 2012
2. Fastest Growing Workforce and Population
3. 20% of schoolchildren are Hispanic, but their sub-par performance is weakening the competitiveness of our country
4. Latino Business Owners in US: growing at more than twice the national average. Revenue jumped by an astonishing 55% to nearly $350 billion (though many believe this estimate is well north of $600B).
Hispanics are key to fueling job creation, economic growth and global competitiveness. In fact, based on these four factors alone, Hispanics should have a more prominent voice in America to debate and negotiate with policy makers and corporation leaders. Unfortunately, the opposite that is true. Why? We Hispanics don't feel safe about our own identity and nor do we believe that anyone will listen to our real voice.
Many are to blame for the Hispanic identity crisis in America, but it is Hispanics themselves who continue to be most responsible. If you examine all immigrants in America, Hispanics on a per-capita basis are contributing the least to the success of the Fortune 500 companies. In fact, according to the study New American Fortune 500, over 40% of the 2010 Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children, but none of them included Hispanics.
Because Hispanics are not a homogenous community, we don't know how to best identify ourselves both in the workplace and in society.
What's the answer? Hispanics must begin to view their cultural roots as sources of strength rather than as barriers to advancement. Though each country that is represented under the Hispanic brand carries its own cultural nuances, there are a set of core immigrant values that can unite, empower and expand our voice and identity in America: the immigrant perspective, circular vision, Latin passion, entrepreneurial spirit, generous purpose, and cultural promise.
The 2012 presidential election will be a defining moment for the identity of Hispanics in America. Hispanics must take this high-profile national moment to show America that we are willing to take on the responsibility to enable our authentic voice and identity. All Hispanics must realize that if we don't begin to embrace our cultural roots and immigrant perspective as a source of strength to unleash our authentic identity, we will lose it permanently. Hispanics can no longer sit on the outside looking inward with the hope that someone will provide for our well-being. We must do this ourselves.
Join the 2012 Hispanic Voice Town Hall Tour when it heads into Las Vegas on March 2nd. Learn more at: http://www.2012HispanicVoice.com. For more information on how you can host a Town Hall Tour event in your city or how you can volunteer to help, please contact us at: ideas@2012HispanicVoice.com.