Nearly a month after he said them, Sean Spicer’s words about the lack of Hispanics on the Trump cabinet still make my blood boil.
In case you have not noticed, there is not a single Latino in President Trump’s cabinet – the first time that we were without cabinet representation in more than 30 years.
When asked why, Mr. Spicer said that President Trump’s top priority was to bring the best and the brightest together in the Cabinet.
His words implied the unforgivable. That “best and brightest” meant “not Hispanic.”
Disculpe!? Excuse me!?
He could not have been more wrong.
To understand how absurd Spicer’s statement is, consider this.
The U.S. Hispanic population now stands 57 million, making Hispanics the nation’s second-fastest-growing racial or ethnic group. Today Hispanics make up 18 percent of the U.S. population, up from 5 percent in 1970.
Latinos and Latinas serve as corporate CEOs, university presidents, members of the U.S. Congress and Senate and mayors in their communities. The fact that Hispanic -owned businesses in the United States are growing at an accelerated pace — manifests itself both in the growing number and size of Hispanic-owned businesses and the total sales receipts that these firms are generating. To put this in context, during the latest 8-year period from 2007 to 2015, Hispanic-owned business’ revenue jumped by an astonishing 88 percent to nearly $661 billion.
All this means that Hispanics will have more economic clout, employ a greater proportion of the population and purchase substantially more in goods and services than they do today. The dynamic growth of Hispanic-owned businesses will likely transform the economic and political landscape in the United States in the years ahead.
So, we are good. And we are bright. Just not enough to be invited to serve on President’s Trump cabinet.
I am a Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University and the Founder and Board Chair of the LEAP Academy University Charter School in Camden, New Jersey – a community that is 47 percent Latino, according to the 2010 Census.
Under our largely Hispanic leadership – and the guidance of LEAP’s administrators and faculty – we are helping to develop the minds of the next generation of leaders, Hispanic and otherwise.
As one in every five Americans is Hispanic. We need to ensure that we not are the overlooked minority anymore.
Our message to the Latino Community and LEAP students ― Hispanic students everywhere, actually – levantate, pueblo... rise up!
You have the mind set and skill set to lead. We have no time to waste. That means not wasting energy on complaining about this injustice and, instead, channeling that anger into doing something about it.
We are as Americans as everyone else and we must demand representation.
Alarmingly, the current Presidential cabinet is not the only U.S. leadership institution in which Latinos are underrepresented.
- When Oscar Munoz became the CEO of United Airlines in 2015, he was just the ninth Latino CEO currently serving at a Fortune 500 company.
- There are only three Hispanics currently serving in the U.S. Senate. And just 30 Hispanic members of the U.S. House.
- There are 240 Hispanic Mayors – but this is from a sample size of 35,000 cities and towns in the United States.
It is simply not enough to stand on the sidelines and point out the inequities. People like me – a Latina with a doctorate degree and a leadership position in the community – need to inspire younger generations to set a higher bar.
Empezamos hoy! Start today!
Sean Spicer! Your words underscore the hard road that Latinos and Latinas still have in this country.
We will not submit. We will do everything to ensure that any future discussion of America’s “Best and Brightest” has a significant Latino flavor to it.