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We hear frequently how Latinos are not a monolithic community. In other words, we are not all the same. We come from different countries, have a variety of political views, and even eat different foods. I get all of that, but I also think focusing constantly on our differences versus our similarities undermines our political and economic power as a community. I believe that for the Latino community to flourish both economically and politically we need to focus more on the things that bind us together instead of our differences. In previous blogs, I have made comparisons to the Jewish community. In this context, I am referring to Jews as a culture, not a religion. The fact is there are Jewish people who are politically conservative, think Ben Shapiro, and there are Jewish people who are politically liberal, think Bernie Sanders. There are orthodox Jews, those who strictly follow Jewish religious doctrine, and there are secular Jews who aren’t very religious at all. However, you rarely hear about how Jews are not monolithic. Instead, we hear more about the uniformity of the Jewish community on issues like antisemitism, the State of Israel, and economic prosperity. Believe it or not, a focus on uniformity versus differences is one of the reasons the Jewish community has thrived in America.
So, are there issues that galvanize the Latino community? I believe so, you just don’t hear about them as much. At the top of the list is family. Family is at the center of Latino culture. Nothing inspires and motivates Latinos more than our commitment to family. Also near the top is economic prosperity. Let’s face it, Latino immigrants come to this country for one reason, economic opportunity. NAHREP is a terrific case study in this regard. NAHREP has successfully attracted Latinos from every country, culture, and political persuasion. Why? Because it is an organization that is all about uplifting the economic well-being of the Latino community, and that gets us energized like nothing else. Latinos want to be homeowners and business owners, and they want to build generational wealth. I have joked many times that Latinos don’t come to this country because they like the food, music, or culture, they come to prosper and make a better life for themselves and their families. Latinos don’t want a hand-out, they want a hand-up, plain and simple. We also care about our portrayal in the media, at least I think we should. The Jewish community is fiercely protective of how they are portrayed in the media. The Jewish Defense League and the Anti-Defamation League may be on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but they don’t screw around when it comes to how Jews are portrayed in the media. Latinos need to be just as vigilant because the impact of the media touches everything. Data shows that Latinos are the most underrepresented demographic in the media, and when we are represented, we are usually portrayed as criminals, lazy, and uneducated. I am a partner in a venture capital firm and have learned that Latino-founded businesses receive less than two percent of the investment capital deployed each year. What? We are 20% of the population but get less than 2% of the capital. You might ask, why? I am sure there are a lot of reasons, but if you were an investor, would you want to invest in a community that is rampant with problems?
I believe these issues transcend politics and national origin. I agree that Latinos don’t like to be thought of as a monolithic community, but the next time you hear someone talking about how different we are, trust me, they are not doing us a favor. Unity matters.