Social media has been abuzz in recent days with Central CT Latinos fuming over the omission of Latinos on this year’s list of influential people published in the December issue of Hartford Magazine. The exclusion has opened old wounds for many who over the years have noticed Latinos in the state regularly left out of such lists as well as from other high profile positions.
Marilda Gándara, former president of the Aetna Foundation, a member of UConn’s Board of Trustees and one of the few Latinos who has made such lists, echoes the sentiment of many others who view these omissions as part of a larger societal issue. Gándara says, “While for the first time in this past election Latinos were visible in a significant way, Latinos continue to be invisible in many other areas, look at corporate boards, public television and radio, the list goes on,”
Gándara adds, “Latinos are invisible even in high profile presentations like the Connecticut Forum. When organizers are putting together a panel, they routinely think of including an African American voice, a female voice, and don’t often think about a Latino voice.”
Many media outlets often publish such lists similar to Hartford Magazine’s list of influential people, which solicits nominations from readers and asks people in the know for their suggestions to develop their lists. In an e-mail statement to CTLatinoNews Opinion Columnist Bessy Reyna, who offers her view in CTLatinoNews on this specific omission, a Hartford Magazine spokesperson said they select the people “without consideration of the person’s race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.”
Rich Hanley, director of the Graduate Journalism Program at Quinnipiac University says, “The failure to include Latinos in the list of the top 50 influential people in the Hartford area reflects a demographically inert perspective but one that doesn’t seem deliberately constructed that way.” Rather, he believes institutional shortsightedness is largely the reason. “Existing social networks of business and non-profit organizations from which list members are generally selected is culturally behind the times and needs to embrace a broader definition of influence,” he says.
Hartford businesswoman Joyce Bolanos has a different take on why Latinos are not included on the high profile lists and programs. She says Latinos have to be more assertive and make their presence known. “I truly believe that we Latinos must make changes from within. We have to join organizations that not only influence Latinos but organizations that make economic and social impact for humanity as a whole. That is how we can gain influence and can be recognized by everyone, not just Latinos.”
Other Latinos are just frustrated with the dearth of what they see as the ongoing lack recognition of Latinos. Yanil Teron, executive director of the Center for Latino Progress in Hartford, is one of many who vented on Facebook. She wondered whether it is systemic discrimination or Latino invisibility. She wrote, “It is hard to believe in a community with an increasing Latino population that not a single successful Latino is on the list of the 50 most influential in Greater Hartford.”