More Latino presence is crucial during these elections

I would like to address the importance of the Latino presence on this year’s election. While Latino presence in politics does not affect everyone in the community, it carries a lot of weight as far as decision-making goes. More and more Latinos are able to vote but choose not to because of the common misbelief that their votes do not count towards making a change. If one person thinks this is true, he or she will create a virus-like mindset — there will be a shift amongst people who surround that individual.

I think otherwise: Now more than ever, the Latino vote will determine the direction America takes with this year’s election.

I am honored to call myself a Latino because of the values I was taught from an early age — to respect one another, to work hard, to bring honor to my family and the community.

As an immigrant to the United States, I know what it’s like to be voiceless and to feel the need for stronger community leaders for the new generation of young Chicanos and Latinos. As a student activist, I find strength and inspiration from leaders like Cesar Chavez, who left a legacy and an impact not only on the Chicano community, but on the nation. New generations must continue to advocate and take action on the social justice issues of today — educational barriers, immigration reforms, poverty and reaching out to disenfranchised communities.

According to the Latino Community Foundation (LCF) “Latinos constitute about 21 percent of all registered voters in California -— but only 34 percent are likely to vote compared to 44 percent of Asians, 57 percent of blacks, and 73 percent of whites.”

Now, whom is this really affecting? You guessed it! Latinos. There is not a strong representation nor presence in politics from this ethnic group. As a Latino, I might complain about the decisions some politicians are making, but my voice is not taken into account if I don’t show up to the ballot to fight against current issues.

Latinos are big in the state of California, but are Latinos only big in California? According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States increased by 43.7 percent to 2.3 million, more than twice the national rate of 18 percent between 2002 and 2007. People of Mexican origin owned 45.8 percent of all Hispanic-owned businesses.


The USCB also reports Hispanic-owned businesses generated $345.2 billion in sales in 2007, up 55.5 percent compared with 2002. The number of Hispanic-owned businesses with receipts of $1 million or more increased 51.6 percent — from 29,168 to 44,206 businesses between 2002 and 2007. How can the government dismiss such data?

If the Latino community were better informed, they would take a stand for themselves and go out and vote. Why are Latinos not more informed? Many Latinos did not go further than their associates degree. According to the LCF, 32 percent of Latino youths don’t graduate from high school and only 14 percent have a bachelor’s degree. This means that their college experience is very minimal — a lot of important information is missed.

Disenfranchised communities deserve more attention and help from local leaders to overcome the common obstacles of poverty and lack of secondary education.

A way to achieve this change is through the election of more Latinos to political offices — trustees, delegates, senators, state governors and, one day, president. The first step is to make sure they know the power of their opinions and the value of their votes. With this knowledge, registering Latino voters — and actually having them turn out and vote — will come easily.