By Yanil Terón
Another day without us in Connecticut. Like in the movie, Groundhog Day, Bill Murray repeats the same routine day after day and hopes that he will see a different new day. He goes about making changes to his day so he can transform his daily routine. Every day, when we wake up, once again, Latino leaders are missing, in the business trade and mainstream journals, in the corporate and civic boardrooms, in the places where decisions are taken, and leaders are proven. As much as we try, it seems that we do not move forward, and sometimes like we are moving backward.
How is it that Latinos were not included in the Hartford Business Journal’s 2020 Power 50?
Connecticut, one of the most segregated states, according to a ProPublica report, has lightyears ahead to undo its provincial mindset and stimulate meaningful connections among its residents. Such a stagnant environment has provided limited opportunities to know, trust, and respect each other so we can all embrace and work toward our shared future.
There is no debate; we do have the widest gaps in income, health, and education compared to most of our neighbors. Yes, we are overly represented in the lower economic sectors. The media, scholars, government, and politicos have substantiated our problems again and again. A lot of negativism for sure, we know more about these difficulties because compelling issues are more saleable, generates a need, and urgency for change. A mentality of fixing visible symptoms without digging into the cause of the problems to effect transformative changes.
There is another reality, one that we must pick up a megaphone and loudly announce to others and younger generations we too, have portraits of success, that we contribute to the wellbeing of others, and we energize the economy of the State. We Latinos, the youngest rising community in the State, have successful business people, seasoned scholars, zealous politicians, devoted religious and community leaders working for us, and leaving legacies for the benefit of all.
As we browse mainstream media, the Hartford Business Journal, the Hartford Courant, Connecticut Magazine, CT Post, the latest video promos; or when we scan for the list of elected or appointed officials; when we read the names of our corporate leaders; when we look at the glossy lists of the best 40 year-olds or the best 50 leaders of the year are out, reality strikes again. The Latinos are missing. Where are our leaders? Why are they missing? Doesn’t the media know about them? Are these just an oversight? Or is it that the successful Latino is not commercially appealing for their glossy pages, or for the cheerful marketing videos?
We are missing at most corporate decision making tables; without a doubt, we should be at all of them. Why? Our voice, insightfulness, and our passion will reshape the future. Connecticut, the State with the eighth oldest population in the nation, needs to ensure that Latinos who are the youngest cohort, have access to opportunities that guarantee Connecticut’s future.
Our potential is unequivocally demonstrated in dollars and cents. In the 2019 Report: The State of Latino Entrepreneurship, by Stamford Graduate School of Business: “Over the past 10 years, the number of Latino business owners grew 34%, compared to 1% for all business owners in the United States.” “Over the last year, Latino-owned businesses reported average revenue growth of 14%, outpacing the growth of the U.S. economy.” We generate millions of dollars in industries and inject more millions as consumers. We need to unlock and harness this power by securing meaningful, sustainable engagement and representation at all levels of society and businesses.
In conclusion, the inclusion of the Latino community must be intentional and not taken for granted. When a community is left behind, it is disfranchised, it is misunderstood, it creates alienation, and it reduces opportunities, social-economic-health-educational sectors. When the Latino community thrives, the State prospers.
Yanil Teron is Executive Director for the Center for Latino Progress (CPRF). Under her leadership, The Center has expanded its workforce contextualized programming and presented its models at national conferences. The Center has also increased its comprehensive support services (youth, college, career and civics programs) and its adult civic and educational activities while maintaining the organization’s competent services and cultural enrichment programs that foster individual and community growth.
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