A Great America Must Include Latinas

01/20/2017 10:00 am ET Updated Jan 20, 2017

It is morning in America. We have woken up to a new reality with the inauguration of a new President. As the winds have begun to change here in Washington, DC, with the change of administrations, we are getting glimpses of where our voices will be needed as we continue to march toward equality and inclusion of Latinas in this new reality.

For the first time in almost four decades, Latinos are not welcome in the highest levels of the new government, with none being nominated to serve in Cabinet level positions. The Affordable Care Act, which has insured millions of Hispanics and Americans from all walks of life, is in danger of repeal, with no concrete replacement being offered. There are plans for public education to become a swap meet where you can trade to the next school without ever solving for the systemic issues that plague our schools and teachers. The very future of Civil Rights may be placed in the hands of an Attorney General who has not only showed public disdain for Civil Rights, but has exaggerated his record on the issues. And true to his campaign announcement, President Trump seems determined to build a wall along our Southern border with Mexico, even going so far as to ask the American taxpayers to allocate the funds up front.

This new reality we have woken up to seems daunting, and many may feel like this new Administration represents a roll back to progress. But President Trump must wake up to the reality of America that faces him as well.

America is already great. We are a diverse nation with perspectives, ideas, and skills that innovate, create and inspire. We are a nation of immigrants, who build and strengthen our great economy. This is what makes America great, not some antiquated notion of what America was. America is great because the son of undocumented immigrants can defy the odds to become a Rhodes Scholar. America is great because a Latina without legal status can work hard and become a Vice President at Goldman Sachs. Their success does not threaten the success of other Americans. Their success reinforces that we live in a great country where anything is possible with hard work and determination. It is why the United States remains a beacon of hope for many across the world. That is a reality that no President could or should tarnish.

Our country is relying on President Trump to succeed, but that success can only come when he can finally embrace, accept and welcome our infinite differences and the diversity of thought that makes America uniquely great. Only then will he truly unlock a great future that includes and respects all Americans. But this understanding can only come through an open dialogue and exchange of ideas. We must make our positions known and we must advocate when our community is being impacted. No one will speak for us if we don’t speak for ourselves.

Yes, it is a new day, but we can control how we handle this new reality from this day forward. Now is the time to ACT.

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