Hispanics Need to Make a Significant Impact in 2017

As I browsed through the magazine section at a local Barnes & Noble the latest issue of Success magazine caught my attention. Its feature article “The Success 25: 2016 Personal Development Leaders” was what I wanted to read, and once again I wasn’t surprised to find that there was not one single Hispanic person on the list. Hispanics are the largest minority group in America and here we are in 2017 and we don’t seem to have made any significant progress in the executive boards of the nation’s leading companies, in the literary world, and in many other key areas of our nation’s business sector. One area where Hispanics have made a significant impact, though, has been in politics as we had two Hispanic Republicans running for President, and we have many others who are in the nation’s congress, or who are Governors or Mayors.
Back in 2004, I founded the Society of Latino/Hispanic Writers of San Antonio to inspire and motivate Hispanic writers to write and publish their books. This was after I read an article in Writers Digest magazine where they interviewed a former Simon and Schuster editor who is Hispanic, and she mentioned that she received about one percent of the manuscripts from Hispanic writers. She set out to change that by creating more awareness of works written by Latino writers and by offering seminars and workshops to Latino writers. However, very little progress has been made in that area since I cannot recall the last time a book written by a Latino author reached the coveted New York Times bestseller list.
During the period that I was planning this blog I conducted a survey on my Facebook page wanting to know which term was more acceptable – Hispanic or Latino. I received many responses and to my surprise Hispanic was the clear winner. Most people who were born or raised in the United States identified more with Hispanic rather than Latino because they felt Latino sounds like they are from Latin America. Several people gave a historical account of why one term was more appropriate than the other. And a few people did not identify with either term, since they wanted to identify with the country of their birth or of their family heritage.
Perhaps it is this division that is hurting us since the problem with classifying all of us into one category makes it difficult. This is because we are different in many ways – the majority of Hispanics in the United States were born in the United States while others come from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the mother country Spain.
So even though many of us we have assimilated into the American culture, we still keep our own unique culture that has been passed on to us by our family. We differ in the foods, the traditions, and the way we speak. But these are the very things that should unite us. I was born in Cuba and came to the United States at age seven and I was raised in Texas in cities with large Mexican-American communities. While we ate pork, black beans, white rice and plantains at home, at the church potlucks I learned to eat and appreciate Mexican food like enchiladas, tostadas, flautas, refried beans, menudo and homemade tortillas.
When I lived in Miami I cherished eating at Cuban restaurants, but I also discovered Colombian food like Bandeja Paisa and arepas, Nicaraguan food like Churrasco and gallo pinto, and of course Puerto Rican pasteles and arroz con gandules. I truly appreciate all of these foods and many other things from our different cultures as much as I appreciate the people from those countries or places, and who have left a rich tradition for generations to come. So, how can we all come together in a manner where we will really impact the areas where we are so heavily lacking presence in?
I think we first have to realize that there will always be differences amongst us and we need to work around those and learn to appreciate them. Even though we are all proud of our unique heritage we have to realize it is not superior to any other. We were created different for the purpose of adding variety to the world we live in, not to cause division. Next, we need to unite in a strong way to create awareness of our strengths and how we can be of benefit to any company or organization. Many of you may not think it is important to highlight the fact that you are Hispanic or Latino in the immediate environment you find yourself in. But I beg to differ, since there will always be people who will look at you as being different. It may be because of your last name, or your accent, the color of your skin, or the food and music you enjoy.
However, I believe our most powerful tool is the media. It is what we have to use to help change the perceptions that exist of what it is to be Hispanic or Latino. Our Spanish-language television networks like Telemundo and Univision (which are the two powerhouses) need to start focusing on creating venues and events where they can invite executives from major companies and organizations to speak to Hispanic leaders. There they will have the opportunity to also meet and talk with these leaders and build an important bond. Similar programs on radio networks will also help with this cause, and of course the using various social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where millions of Hispanics interact every hour of every day.
A dream for many Hispanic writers would be to have Univision or Telemundo create a publishing division and have their books published (in both English and Spanish) and promoted on the different talk shows on either network. I can guarantee you that there will be millions of books sold and it would send a strong message to the publishing houses in New York that have long been ignoring us. But this idea has to be something these two networks have to embrace not only for the sake of making a profit, but more importantly, to help others read about our marvelous culture written by our talented writers.
And finally, like Univision created Fusion to cater to the English-dominant Hispanics, I feel Telemundo should do the same. With these networks in place talk shows in English can be created and have distinguished Hispanic executives and leaders as guests. These shows will rival those on Fox, CNN and MSNBC. Our television programs have to be more than novelas, gossip shows, and music award specials. It is time we take Spanish-language television to a higher level so that it can help Hispanics succeed in the United States of America. We need to focus more on English-language content so we can be respected and be taken seriously by the rest of the population.
I would like to know if you agree with me, and if you don’t, then tell me how you think Hispanics can start to make a significant impact across the different sectors of our nation’s companies and organizations.

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