President and CEO, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
These are sobering times for the Latino community, believers of the American Dream. There has been the demonizing of immigrants, minorities and the LGBTQ+ community; the rise of white supremacist actions and rallies; the presidential pardon of former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio; the passing of Texas SB4 law, which racially profiles Latinos; and the imminent threat of ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). These are direct attacks on social justice and equal rights. They are creating disunity in the United States of America.
The current uncertainty alarms us all. Over the last eight months, it has become evident that the campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” carried a dark subtext all along, aiming to cause divisions amongst us. We are living in a defining moment in our American history and in our personal choices. All who love this great nation must carry the weight of responsibility to fight for the values of freedom and democracy that make our country so great. We must fight against all bias, hate and the damages of inertia.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month this September in our nation’s capital with our annual leadership conference. This year’s theme is “Transformative Change: Innovate, Lead and Inspire.” The conference’s topics invite participants to create change with intention, use their lives as platforms to innovate and inspire others to care about topics such as race relations, climate change and entrepreneurship. This conference of national leaders of all ranks and backgrounds serves to unify and amplify the Latino community’s voice in defending our inalienable rights “to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of the cultural diversity embedded in our collective American identity. As American Latinos, we strive for a better life. We strive to strengthen our communities with the vibrancy of our culture and the earnest dedication to our families. We are the pipeline of talent that the American workforce relies upon. There are approximately one million Latino youths turning 18 each year, 93 percent of whom are American-born. We are 57 million strong, contributing over $2.13 trillion to the total U.S. GDP in 2015, according to research conducted by the Latino Donor Collaborative.
At the core of the American experience is the pride of living in a land of opportunity for all. This notion is what makes America great. Celebrating one unique culture does not mean denigrating another.
This Hispanic Heritage Month, we ask you to join CHCI and take this civility pledge in celebration of all cultures:
“Inclusiveness and diversity are what power, strengthen and drive America. It is because of these values that I pledge to treat people with differing opinions from mine with civility and respect and to value people from all cultures, beliefs and backgrounds. I pledge to stand up against disrespect when I see it and raise the level of discourse to promote consideration, tolerance and community to what every human is entitled.”
Domenika Lynch, President and CEO, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, [email protected]