How Latino diversity can promote racial reconciliation

The work to recognize and reckon with this country’s systemic racism is ongoing. As Latinos we stand in solidarity with Black Americans in the fight for racial justice. At the same time, Hispanic Americans should reflect on how our diverse racial backgrounds —including indigenous, Afro-Latino, European, mestizo, and other identities – can help position us to strengthen our multi-racial, multi-cultural society.
On November 18, we held a virtual town hall that featured a candid conversation about how  our values, culture, identity, and histories of struggle are vital resources as we strive to achieve racial justice within our community and for all Americans.

The town hall featured introductory remarks by Dr. Nancy Lopez, Professor of Sociology at the University of New Mexico and Director and Co-Founder of the Institute for the Study of “Race” & Social Justice, and a panel discussion with Dr. Lopez, Odilia Romero, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Comunidades Indigenas en Liderazgo (CIELO); Cid Wilson, President and CEO of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR); and Clarissa Martínez-de-Castro, Deputy Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, UnidosUS. The conversation was moderated by Mariela Rosario, editor-in-chief of HipLatina.

Dr. Lopez’s remarks set the stage for the discussion, laying out the concept of “street race”—the race that someone perceives you to be if you are walking down the street—and explaining to the audience why having data that accurately reflects the diversity of our communities is so important for our well-being.

Wilson discussed his experience as an Afro-Latino CEO and solidarity between minority groups, while Romero outlined how people can make spaces more inclusive for indigenous Latinos.

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UnidosUS’s Martínez-de-Castro talked about how the diversity of the Hispanic community is evocative of the broader diversity of the country. There is work to be done, however, to educate the broader country about how that diversity is a strength.

“To those who are not Hispanic, there’s a great deal of ambivalence or indifference about our community” and its experiences, she said. “That’s a deficit but also an opportunity to try and educated people about who we are and the role we can play in the America we aspire to be.”

The panelists also shared their own personal stories, giving a wider perspective into the diversity that makes up the Latino community and how we can leverage this diversity to be agents of change.

You can view the conversation below:

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