In the early 1990’s the U.S. Census Bureau projected the Hispanic-origin population would be the largest growing group. These projections also revealed that by the year 2000, the Hispanic-origin population might increase to 31 million (The official 2000 Census count was 35.3 million/12.5% of U.S. population), to double its 1990 (22.4 million) size by 2015 (that would be 44.8 million), and quadruple its 1990 size by the middle of the next century (89.6 million).
In fact, the Hispanic-origin population would contribute 32 percent of the Nation’s population growth from 1990 to 2000, 39 percent from 2000 to 2010, 45 percent from 2010 to 2030, and 60 percent from 2030 to 2050. Today this group is the largest minority group in the United States.
Latinos are becoming a social, political and economic force to be reckoned with. My question to readers is – What kind of “Latino” will emerge? Will the next generation have its own identity distinct from the current mindset? My hope is that this community will be transformed into a new type of Latino; the Neo-Latino of the 21st century:
1. Latinos who remember who they are, where they come from, and most assuredly, know where they are going.
2. A Latino who remembers the sacrifice of their parents, and is willing to the same for their own family and others.
3. A Latino who is well educated and affluent but not spoiled.
4. A Latino who is influential in their local community but not conceited.
5. A Latino who understands that the flame of liberty is fragile, and in danger of being extinguished by an obese and unaccountable government.
6. A type of Latino who can lead the next generation with integrity and dignity.
In December 2009, the Hispanic Pew Research Center released a study with the following summary:
“Never before has a minority group made up so large a share of the nation’s youth. A new national survey finds that Latinos ages 16 to 25 are satisfied with their lives and optimistic about their futures. They value education, hard work and career success. But they are more likely than other youths to drop out of school, live in poverty and become teen parents. They also have high levels of exposure to gangs. And when it comes to self-identity, most straddle two worlds.”
Statistics from research tell a story, and these facts paint a picture of the dichotomy of the emerging generation. If you and I remain idle, can you foresee the state of our community by the year 2020? According to the Hispanic Pew Research Center the Latino will either become the business entrepreneurs and community leaders of tomorrow; or will this emerging generation reflect an undereducated class, impoverished socially, intellectually, and financially, and perhaps confined to a prison cell as a result of their involvement with gang related activities? We cannot afford to squander the next generation’s promise; it is up to you and I to intervene and redirect their path. The clarion call to action is now; we cannot afford to wait. But how will we reach them? Latino Townhall purposes three objectives.
One of the reasons schools fail to meet the needs of students today is the lack of illumination in education. You can’t separate intellect from faith and expect great academic results. The two actually go together (Read: Luke 2:52, Acts 4:13). Stephen R. Covey’s bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People lists The Four Dimensions of Renewal, which include giving attention to one’s physical, social and emotional, spiritual, and mental nature (Italics mine). Therefore, the whole person’s nature must be addressed in education. If public schools remain tentative about teaching spirituality in the classroom, then it’s time for Latinos to start their own private schools to address each component.
Second, a concerted effort from community leaders, clergy and others, within and outside the Latino community, to mentor student’s with time tested values that shape a sustainable character that can overcome temptation in private, and maintain one’s integrity in the public square.
Third, to provide learning opportunities by exposing students to after school and summer apprenticeship programs where they can experience various workplace environments for the purpose of assessing whether a student’s gifts, talents, and passions align with their current career choice. A proactive, hands-on approach to learning will be key in the future when developing the next generation of Latinos.
What will your role be in shaping the next generation of Latinos? From previous experience, people generally fall into three categories: (1) People can become passive participants, who think “others” will do the job; (2) People can become engaged but only with a minimal commitment; or (3) People become passionately committed to making a difference long term. Latino Townhall recommends the latter. Where do you see yourself fitting in?
President & Founder